OneUSDA Makes Sense for People
President Lincoln set "the people's Department" in the DNA of USDA when he asked Congress to create it more than 150 years ago. It's what Gifford Pinchot put first of his 11 maxims in his Guide to the Behavior of Foresters in Public Office: "A public official is there to serve the public and not run them." It is the humanity our bureaucracy seeks when "Caring for the Land and Serving People."
The USDA, the Forest Service within it, and each of us in our careers have a long, unbroken run of working for the benefit of others. OneUSDA is both Secretary Perdue's assurance he believes in why we're here and his expectation for how we'll operate.
The fact we're here for people first isn't news to me, but being able to use the full potential of OneUSDA as an operating model means new ground to explore, experience, and grow on. I see great opportunity for creativity, service improvements, partnerships, and cooperation in the OneUSDA vision. It means a change of norms, but not of values.
State and Private Forestry is my most concrete and visible connection to OneUSDA at this early stage of implementation. It gives me tangible ground for understanding customer service that isn't delivered from a land base, but to a base of landowners. The operating model of the Area already matches that of many Department agencies.
The values and norms the Area holds itself to reveal a preexisting, imbedded OneUSDA "plus" approach to public service. For more than 50 years we've helped landowners, communities, and States get their work done. The team you rely on already includes
many USDA agencies-such as NRCS (Natural Resources Conservation Service), FSA (Farm Service Agency) and Rural Development
--- plus other agencies including the Department of Defense and National Park Service.
Personal messages and videos from the Secretary show me his vision, intent, and earnestness for OneUSDA. I'm struck by his smart, reassuring approach to its priority of treating and serving all people equally. He truly means all people
--- internal and external, the public servants we work with and the public we serve. I believe Area employees are already living the OneUSDA vision in their customer service ethic.
Agriculture Secretary Perdue on OneUSDA, Phase II
Secretary Purdue has announced the second phase of his strategy to make USDA the most effective, the most efficient, the most customer-focused, and the best managed Federal department. I highly encourage everyone to
watch his video
I want to share with you a few developments at the Department level related to this announcement.
Earlier this year, Secretary Perdue shared his OneUSDA vision for the department. Put simply, we must be one team, working together to serve the American people. Every single person, internal or external, no matter their rank or background, is treated the same way and has the same great experience and interaction with each and every employee. We should always remain aware of how our actions impact others across the Forest Service and Department, our customers, and the American taxpayer. You will continue to see this theme throughout OneUSDA initiatives.
Departmental Administration Realignment
The USDA Departmental Management office has changed its name to Departmental Administration to better align with core functions, funding allocation nomenclature, and placement under the Office of the Assistant Secretary for Administration. The Departmental Administration's work in human resources, information technology, procurement, property management, operations, homeland security, Secretary's correspondence, and small business advocacy, makes them the only mission area that touches every employee within USDA.
Secretary's Office of Customer Experience
To support the Secretary's emphasis on customer service, the Department has created the Secretary's Office of Customer Experience. The name of the office captures its focus on the end-to-end, customer-employee interface with the Department, not just on how the employee is providing service. This office will be located within Departmental Administration, where Joe Doyle will serve as lead for this office. Mr. Doyle led the Office of Customer Service for the State of Georgia when Secretary Perdue was governor.
Using an enterprise approach to customer service, Mr. Doyle will be recruiting champions for customer service across the Department, coordinating his efforts through ongoing customer service initiatives in the mission areas, and leveraging the customer touch points we already have in place through call centers and our internal and external web sites. He will be working with employee teams to build a culture of customer service within USDA through shared values built and celebrated by employees, uncovering opportunities for process improvements, and streamlining approaches for enhancing access to our services.
Labor Relations Foundational Principles
Secretary Perdue has issued a memo that sets out basic guidelines for how we will approach labor negotiations moving forward. Under the guidance of this memo, USDA will view labor relations more like covenants that we hold between us, rather than contracts of things we must do or must not do.
As members of Team OneUSDA, agencies and staff offices are expected to collaborate fully with the Department by seeking labor relations subject matter expertise, technical guidance, assistance, and training from the Office of Human Resources Management and legal advice and support from the Office of the General Counsel. The opportunity to review all collective bargaining agreements with OHRM and OGC will ensure an enterprise-based approach and shared awareness that supports the Secretary's belief that, under OneUSDA, every participant in the negotiation process can rest assured they are being treated fairly and in a manner consistent across the Department.
USDA Honor Awards
The USDA Honor Awards program is a tradition going back to 1947 that gives us the opportunity to publicly celebrate those individuals and groups who have made the greatest contribution to the achievement of our mission. The awards are based around each of our seven priorities in the USDA Strategic Plan.
This year, USDA is restructuring the Honor Awards into a three-tiered program where there will be opportunities at the agency, mission area, and Secretary's levels. We will accomplish this through a competitive nomination process that will lead up to awards ceremonies where we can gather together as a OneUSDA family to cheer the champions for our mission and celebrate those among you who truly exemplify the USDA motto of "Do right and feed everyone."
Director, Northeastern Area State and Private Forestry
Regional Forester, Eastern Region