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Department of Agriculture

USDA

The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) develops and executes policy on farming, agriculture, and food. Its aims include meeting the needs of farmers and ranchers, promoting agricultural trade and production, assuring food safety, protecting natural resources, fostering rural communities, and ending hunger in America and abroad.

The USDA employs more than 100,000 employees and has an annual budget of approximately $95 billion. It consists of 17 agencies, including the Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service, the Food and Nutrition Service, and the Forest Service. The bulk of the department’s budget goes towards mandatory programs that provide services required by law, such as programs designed to provide nutrition assistance, promote agricultural exports, and conserve our environment. The USDA also plays an important role in overseas aid programs by providing surplus foods to developing countries.

Strategic Goals for 2010-15

  1. Enhance International Competitiveness of American Agriculture
  2. Enhance the Competitiveness and Sustainability of Rural and Farm Economics
  3. Support Increased Economic Opportunities and Improved Quality of Life in Rural America
  4. Enhance Protection and Safety of the Nation’s Agriculture and Food Supply
  5. Improve the Nation’s Nutrition and Health
  6. Protect and Enhance the Nation’s Natural Resource Base and Environment

Cyber/Information Technology Movements

  • Key initiatives are in getting aid to rural areas – $1.3B in funding for broadband to rural communities is being spent through the department.
  • Use the ATT Networx contract for $350M for IT + Cyber
  • Most of the IT work they do is dedicated to FISMA compliance
  • Also have a great deal of personally identifiable information to protect

Assessments

An agency with a mission of this importance and a scope/size of this one will have significant information security needs and a serious security program. However, the bias of most in the department and many peer agencies and perhaps US Citizens will be to assume this is a mission of less importance at USDA. Many will assume the information is not of national security importance and therefore mentally assign USDA protection efforts to lower priorities. Countering this bias will be an important need of the agency CIO and CISO. The contract teams that can help counter this bias and economically contribute to enhancing security will have an edge.

USDA will migrate the following services to the cloud

  • Email
  • Collaboration Services
  • Document Management and Correspondence Tracking