by Gerald Bramstedt, Farm Services Agency
On February 22, 2007, Tom Hofeller, Associate Administrator for Operations and Management, visited Kansas City to recognize FSA employees and contractors in the development of what has become known as the “Section 1614 database.” Congress directed USDA to track the benefits under Titles I and II of the 2002 Farm Bill. To the extent that records allow, the database contains information about benefits provided to producers by FSA, the Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS), and cooperatives from October 1, 2002, through June 30, 2006. While the language in the legislation was only four sentences long, the effort to implement was enormous.
This required the compilation of more than 350 million financial transactions, contained in multiple databases, into one database that tracks attribution of payments to individuals. The 1614 database contains 64 million records for more than 2.3 million entities or individuals. It provides information about $56 billion worth of benefits.
What started out with a handful of employees over 3 years ago grew into a project that involved almost every organization in FSA. The complexity of the project grew significantly with the numerous Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requests for the data. This not only raised the ante of the project to “get it right”, but the visibility of the project was raised to the highest levels of government.
The challenge FSA faced in developing the 1614 database was assigning the correct amount of benefit to an individual. While FSA maintains records of payees that actually receive a check or direct deposit, we do not maintain records on how that payment was distributed to the members of an entity such as a partnership or corporation. Add the complexity of the accounting and numerous systems to collect the data; one can appreciate the challenges the 1614 database team had to overcome. Through dedication and hard work, the 1614 database was released to the public in December 2006. The 1614 database project reflects the pride of FSA employees and contractors working together to achieve a common goal.
Advanced DataTools Corporation has been providing design, development and support consulting services to Farm Service Agency in the development of the Section 1614 Database.
Emily Der, Advanced DataTools Consultant receives appreciation award from Tom Hofeller, Associate Administrator for Operations and Management, Farm Services Agency.
James Edmiston, Advanced DataTools Consultant receives appreciation award from Tom Hofeller, Associate Administrator for Operations and Management, Farm Services Agency.
"Thanks so much for making the 1614 data easy to understand and easy to use while retaining about as much of the detail that you could. It's rare that both can be accomplished at the same time. The combination of smart database design and good documentation allowed us to analyze [it] in a matter of hours..."
~quote from a 1614 database user