Share Facebook Twitter Google + LinkedIn Pinterest The Technology Modernization Fund Board (Board) recently awarded funding to support the development of USDA’s Farmers.gov customer experience portal, which helps better connect America’s farmers, ranchers, conservationists, and private foresters with vital USDA resources and programs. The Board is chaired by the Federal Chief Information Officer for the Office of Management and Budget (OMB).Following the funding announcement from OMB, USDA Under Secretary for Farm Production and Conservation Bill Northey said, “Farmers.gov will provide a user-friendly portal for connecting agricultural producers to the USDA services and programs they need. This new resource also will reduce the time farmers need to take away from their fields to fill out paperwork. We are very pleased that Farmers.gov is receiving funding to continue its development so USDA can improve the way we deliver services to our customers.”Farmers.gov is mobile device-friendly and can identify for farmers the most convenient USDA office locations. Additional functions will be added to the site, including an interactive calendar, an online appointment feature, digital forms, and a business data dashboard. Additionally, when the 2018 Farm Bill is signed into law, there will be plain language program descriptions and a tool to determine eligibility.To learn about the Farmers.gov vision, USDA’s farmer-centered design principles, and roadmap for the website, visit the Farmers.gov playbook at www.farmers.gov/playbook.
Since Sarbanes-Oxley (SOX) regulations were passed after the Enron scandal, businesses, particularly those small and medium sized, have complained about Section 404 which they have viewed as being onerous to comply with. The problem has been with the language of the ruling. The vagueness of the SOX language has made many accountants and auditors interpret the law very conservatively. Accountants and auditors are often worried that they could be sued by the SEC or investors if fraud is discovered at a later date.The result has been that companies fees for auditing and accounting have soared. An AMR report shows that costs related to SOX have increased from $2.5 billion in 2002 to $6.1 billion in 2005.For companies targeting SOX with products, services and consulting, this has been good news. Many software vendors have targeted the problem with specialized software. Companies addressing the problem include IBM, Oracle, SAP AG and Microsoft. The Big Four accounting firms have also benefited.Proposed guidance for SOX compliance from the SEC is expected in December. The Wall Street Journal this weekend reported that the new language will relax requirements of Section 404 compliance. In the long-term that is likely to save companies money and provide them with confidence that their procedures are compliant. But in the short-term it may mean that recently implemented processes for achieving compliance will again need to be reviewed, changed and updated.
The Additional CEO of Akola Zila Parishad has opted for voluntary retirement citing “threats and pressure” from the Minister of State for Home Ranjeet Patil, who is also the guardian minister of the district.“On February 12, the guardian minister had organised a ‘Janata Darbar’ in Akola. During this programme, the guardian minister spoke to me in unparliamentary and abusive language publicly. He also pressurised me to accept some tenders. I told him that accepting tenders, without following proper procedure, will be illegal but he got angry on me,” Subhash Pawar has said in his letter to Principal Secretary, Rural Development and Water Resources Department of Maharashtra government.Mr. Pawar has also alleged in his letter that the minister also threatened him during the programme.“The guardian minister threatened that he would see how to implicate me in some scandals since he is the minister of state for home. He also asked me as to why do I work as a government servant. I never experienced such treatment from anyone during my 25 years long service. My tenure as a government servant is spotless. This entire episode has increased my mental stress which is why I don’t intend to continue in the service anymore,” Mr. Pawar has said in his letter seeking voluntary retirement. Mr. Patil did not respond to calls from The Hindu.