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USDA establishes regional agricultural statistics centers.

USDA plans to set up nine regional centers for its National Agricultural Statistics Service where analysts who currently work in state offices would be housed to analyze data gathered by the agency. Speaking recently to a gathering of the National Association of State Departments of Agriculture, Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack said the effort would provide an opportunity for NASS statisticians to "dive more deeply into data." The goal is to have the nine centers up and operational by next year.

Even though a number of NASS employees will be shifted to the new regional offices, the agency will continue to have a presence in each state, but at a reduced level. Following the realignment, each state would still have a state statistician and would have an official responsible for coordinating the field enumerators who gather the on-the-ground data for the agency.

And, in some cases, those remaining NASS staff members may not necessarily be assigned to a central work location, but will be able to telecommute. The state statistician would still be the "public face" for the agency in each state.

Under the current NASS system, the agency brings statisticians from individual states to Washington, D.C., where they help produce for crop production or other key reports under highly secure "lockup" conditions. Under the new alignment, regional, rather than state statisticians would be tapped for duty on major NASS reports.

The nine regional offices will be located in Sacramento, Calif.; Denver, Colo.; Austin, Texas; Lincoln, Neb.; St. Louis, Mo.; Des Moines, Iowa; Louisville, Ky.; Athens, Ga.; and Harrisburg, Pa.
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Title Annotation:United States. Department of Agriculture
Publication:The Food & Fiber Letter
Article Type:Brief article
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:Feb 13, 2012
Words:260
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