NB_300_22_49 - NB 300-22-49 LTP – Workload Prioritization Tool
NB 300-22-49 LTP – Workload Prioritization Tool
National Bulletin: 300-22-49  
Date: July 21, 2022 
Subject: LTP – Workload Prioritization Tool 


Action Required By:   September 1, 2022  
 
Purpose.   To provide State Conservationists and Directors of the Caribbean and Pacific Islands guidance on the development and use of the Workload Prioritization Tool (WPT) in the Conservation Assessment Ranking Tool (CART) and Conservation Desktop (CD).     
 
Expiration Date.   September 30, 2023  
 
Background.   The WPT is designed to, prior to completing assessments in the CART, prioritize requests for assistance in CD into High/Medium/Low categories and help field offices and planners manage workload.        
 
Explanation.   The WPT is designed to assist in managing workload associated with requests for assistance and applications for highly competitive programs or targeted funding pools within a program. The WPT also gives NRCS the ability to share effective workload prioritization criteria between States for consistency and increase transparency in the workload prioritization process.

The WPT is developed using a Workload Prioritization Display Group (WPDG) in CART, which is published and visible on the CD Conservation Assistance Requests page. For States that have published WPDGs in CART, planners answer those questions within the Conservation Assistance Request page in CD to set a priority level of high/medium/low for the request.

Starting in FY2022 and continuing in FY2023, States have the option to configure a single Workload Prioritization Display Group in CART. The Workload Prioritization questions will appear in CD on the Conservation Assistance Request Page for the following request types:

       •  Site Visit
       •  New Conservation Plan
       •  Apply for Conservation Programs (Apply for Financial Assistance (FA) Programs)

The WPT will document in CD the criteria being used to determine which requests should be prioritized for planning, assessment, and ranking. Refer to 440-CPM, Part 530 – Working Lands Conservation Programs Manual, Subpart D, Section 530.32 for policy on screening as it is applicable to the WPT.

States that do not publish WPDG’s in CART will continue to see a high/medium/low priority selection drop-down on the Conservation Assistance Request page in CD for State prioritization/screening tools used outside of the CD/CART system. If a State screening questionnaire is used to determine a priority level outside of CD/CART, the corresponding priority level must be associated to the Conservation Assistance Request page.

 

Note:   Starting in FY2024, all assistance requests or application prioritization or screening must use the WPT in CD via a published WPDG in CART. Prioritization or screening criteria outside the WPT in the CD/CART system will no longer be allowed.

States that do not use any workload prioritization or screening process must address all requests for assistance and process applications for program participation in accordance with applicable planning and program guidance.

 

Resources.

Resources including example workload prioritization questions and lesson plans for how to configure a WPDG in CART and answer the prioritization questions in CD are available on the NRCS field, State, and Technical CART SharePoint page at https://usdagcc.sharepoint.com/sites/nrcs/intranet/SitePages/Workload-Prioritization-Tool.aspx.

 

Required Actions.

States that will prioritize assessment, planning, and ranking workload associated with requests for assistance or applications for NRCS conservation programs must determine for FY 2023 whether they will use the WPT in CD/CART (Option 1 below) or will use screening criteria outside of the CD/CART system (Option 2 below).

 

Option 1: States that develop and use the configurable WPT must take the following actions:

A.   Identify Agency or State objectives and priorities that may be used as criteria to prioritize workload (e.g. priority watershed, high priority practices, etc.).

B.   Create State Ranking Pools and identify the State Ranking Pools within a program for which the WPT criteria should or should not apply (e.g., High Tunnel, Socially Disadvantaged Farmer or Rancher, Beginning Farmer, or Rancher).

C.   Create a WPDG in CART for publication in CD. If certain programs or ranking pools are excluded from the WPT, these can be identified in Step B above and captured in the WPT by using a multi-select question and assigning 0 points to each selection. Starting with question 2, the user will enter specific workload prioritization criteria to be used to determine requests that will be planned, assessed, and as applicable, ranked for the applicable program ranking pools.

D.   While each State can configure one WPDG in CART, publishing is restricted to the National Headquarters (NHQ) level. States and NHQ will follow the steps below for publication of the WPDG:

Step 1: State configures the draft WPDG in the CART Production Environment, and names the WPDG using the following naming convention: “[State Name] Workload Prioritization_FY23”.


Step 2: Prior to submission for publishing, State should export the draft WPDG to the CART Training Environment (https://carttrain.sc.egov.usda.gov/) and test the WPDG questions and configuration. Email Breanna Barlow (Breanna.Barlow@usda.gov) once the WPDG has been exported to the CART Training Environment to request her to publish it. Publishing in the CART Training Environment allows the State to confirm the WPDG is functioning how intended. If edits need to be made to the WPDG, those should be made by the State to the WPDG in the CART Production Environment, which can then be exported back down to CART Training Environment and republished to confirm.


Step 3: When the State WPDG is ready to be submitted to NHQ for publication in the CART Production Environment, States must complete tracker information on the Deputy Chief for Programs SharePoint (https://usdagcc.sharepoint.com/sites/nrcs_programs/Lists/WPT%20Tracker)


Step 4: Prior to publishing to WPDG in the CART Production Environment, the appropriate NHQ Programs Policy team will review the State’s WPDG for policy compliance and will follow-up with the State to answer any questions or provide clarifications.

 

Step 5: After the NHQ Programs Policy team approves the draft WPDG, it will be published in the CART Production Environment. Once the WPDG has been published, the Workload Prioritization questions will be available in CD for users to view and answer on the Conservation Assistance Requests page.

 

E.   Requests that are high priority based on the WPT must be planned, assessed, and ranked. State may than proceed to planning and assessing requests that are Medium to Low priority based on the WPT screening criteria as staff resources and programs funding allows.

F.   For requests that include an application for program participation, the results from the WPT must be manually entered into ProTracts for documentation of the application priority. For applications managed in the National Easement Staging Tool (NEST) the user will upload screen-prints of the prioritization to the NEST documents page.
 

Note for RCPP18 Applications managed in CD: CD applications carry the priority level over from the associated CD Request. If screening of an application would result in different prioritizations based on variations between ranking pools or RCPP projects, then field staff will need to input additional ‘requests’ to associate with an application when the priority/screening level will vary.

 
Option 2: For FY 2023, States that do not use the WPT in CD/CART
may use the screening/workload prioritization process outside of CART/CD as set forth in 440-CPM-530.32. Any program-specific workload prioritization/screening criteria developed should be used to prioritize requests that will be planned, assessed, and as applicable, ranked for the applicable program and ranking pools. The screening/workload prioritization criteria and the programs and ranking pools to which they apply must be identified in the State’s annual program guidance. States that do not configure a WPDG in CART will see no change on the CD Conservation Assistance Request page (the high/medium/low priority level drop-down will still be visible).
 
Timeline.
A minimum of 30 days is required for NHQ review of a State’s WPDG in CART prior to publication in the CART Production Environment to ensure there are no discrepancies with policy. States that request to have WPDG published and ready for use by October 1, 2022, must submit their WPDG to the SharePoint site by September 1, 2022.
 
WPDGs may be submitted after September 1, 2022, but may not be published until after the fiscal year rollover. If a State plans to use the WPT for FY 2023, but the WPDG is not published by October 1, 2022, the State should hold off ranking any applications in CART until after the requests can be prioritized/screened using the Workload Prioritization questions on the Conservation Assistance Request page in CD.
 
Contact.  

Direct questions about this bulletin through the appropriate State contact using the FAPD SharePoint site Financial Assistance Programs Division (FAPD) - Program Questions - State View (sharepoint.com). Direct questions related to easement programs to EasementSupport@usda.gov. For questions or assistance configuring State Workload Prioritization Display Groups in CART, email Breanna Barlow, Conservation Planning Branch, at Breanna.Barlow@usda.gov.

 
 

 /s/

  CLINT EVANS  
  Acting Deputy Chief for Programs  

 
 
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