Text: S.777 — 106th Congress (1999-2000)All Information (Except Text)
Public Law No: 106-222 (06/21/2000)
[106th Congress Public Law 222]
[From the U.S. Government Printing Office]
[[Page 114 STAT. 353]]
Public Law 106-222
To require the Secretary of Agriculture to establish an electronic
filing and retrieval system to enable farmers and other persons to file
paperwork electronically with selected agencies of the Department of
Agriculture and to access public information regarding the programs
administered by these agencies. <<NOTE: June 20, 2000 - [S. 777]>>
Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives of the
United States of America in Congress <<NOTE: Freedom to E-File
SECTION 1. <<NOTE: 7 USC 6901 note.>> SHORT TITLE.
This Act may be cited as the ``Freedom to E-File Act''.
SEC. 2. <<NOTE: 7 USC 7031.>> ELECTRONIC FILING AND RETRIEVAL.
(a) In <<NOTE: Deadline.>> General.--Not later than 180 days after
the date of enactment of this Act, in accordance with subsection (c),
the Secretary of Agriculture (referred to in this Act as the
``Secretary'') shall, to the maximum extent practicable, establish an
Internet-based system that enables agricultural producers to access all
forms of the agencies of the Department of Agriculture (referred to in
this Act as the ``Department'') specified in subsection (b).
(b) Applicability.--The agencies referred to in subsection (a) are
(1) The Farm Service Agency.
(2) The Natural Resources Conservation Service.
(3) The rural development components of the Department
included in the Secretary's service center initiative regarding
State and field office collocation implemented pursuant to
section 215 of the Department of Agriculture Reorganization Act
of 1994 (7 U.S.C. 6915).
(4) The agricultural producer programs component of the
Commodity Credit Corporation administered by the Farm Service
Agency and the Natural Resources Conservation Service.
(c) Implementation.--In carrying out subsection (a), the Secretary
(1) provide a method by which agricultural producers may--
(A) download from the Internet the forms of the
agencies specified in subsection (b); and
(B) submit completed forms via electronic facsimile,
mail, or similar means;
(2) redesign the forms by incorporating into the forms user-
friendly formats and self-help guidance materials; and
(3) ensure that the agencies specified in subsection (b)--
(A) use computer hardware and software that is
compatible among the agencies and will operate in a
common computing environment; and
[[Page 114 STAT. 354]]
(B) develop common Internet user-interface locations
and applications to consolidate the agencies' news,
information, and program materials.
(d) Progress <<NOTE: Deadline.>> Reports.--Not later than 180 days
after the date of enactment of this Act, the Secretary shall submit to
Congress a report that describes the progress made toward implementing
the Internet-based system required under this section.
SEC. 3. <<NOTE: 7 USC 7032.>> ACCESSING INFORMATION AND FILING OVER THE
(a) In <<NOTE: Deadline.>> General.--Not later than 2 years after
the date of enactment of this Act, in accordance with subsection (b),
the Secretary shall expand implementation of the Internet-based system
established under section 2 by enabling agricultural producers to access
and file all forms and, at the option of the Secretary, selected records
and information of the agencies of the Department specified in section
(b) Implementation.--In carrying out subsection (a), the Secretary
shall ensure that an agricultural producer is able--
(1) to file electronically or in paper form, at the option
of the agricultural producer, all forms required by agencies of
the Department specified in section 2(b);
(2) to file electronically or in paper form, at the option
of the agricultural producer, all documentation required by
agencies of the Department specified in section 2(b) and
determined appropriate by the Secretary; and
(3) to access information of the Department concerning farm
programs, quarterly trade, economic, and production reports, and
other similar production agriculture information that is readily
available to the public in paper form.
SEC. 4. AVAILABILITY <<NOTE: 7 USC 7033.>> OF AGENCY INFORMATION
(a) Reservation of Funds.--From funds made available for agencies of
the Department specified in section 2(b) for information technology or
information resource management, the Secretary shall reserve from those
agencies' applicable accounts a total amount equal to not more than the
(1) For fiscal year 2001, $3,000,000.
(2) For each subsequent fiscal year, $2,000,000.
(b) Time <<NOTE: Notification.>> for Reservation.--The Secretary
shall notify Congress of the amount to be reserved under subsection (a)
for a fiscal year not later than December 1 of that fiscal year.
(c) Use of Funds.--
(1) Establishment.--Funds reserved under subsection (a)
shall be used to establish the Internet-based system required
under section 2 and to expand the system as required by section
(2) Maintenance.--Once the system is established and
operational, reserved amounts shall be used for maintenance and
improvement of the system.
(d) Return of Funds.--Funds reserved under subsection (a) and
unobligated at the end of the fiscal year shall be returned to the
agency from which the funds were reserved, to remain available until
[[Page 114 STAT. 355]]
SEC. 5. FEDERAL <<NOTE: 7 USC 7034.>> CROP INSURANCE CORPORATION
AND RISK MANAGEMENT AGENCY.
(a) In <<NOTE: Deadline.>> General.--Not later than December 1,
2000, the Federal Crop Insurance Corporation and the Risk Management
Agency shall submit to the Committee on Agriculture of the House of
Representatives and the Committee on Agriculture, Nutrition, and
Forestry of the Senate a plan, that is consistent with this Act, to
allow agricultural producers to--
(1) obtain, over the Internet, from approved insurance
providers all forms and other information concerning the program
under the jurisdiction of the Corporation and Agency in which
the agricultural producer is a participant; and
(2) file electronically all paperwork required for
participation in the program.
(b) Administration.--The plan shall--
(1) conform to sections 2(c) and 3(b); and
(A) the location and type of data to be made
available to agricultural producers;
(B) the location where agricultural producers can
electronically file their paperwork; and
(C) the responsibilities of the applicable parties,
including agricultural producers, the Risk Management
Agency, the Federal Crop Insurance Corporation, approved
insurance providers, crop insurance agents, and brokers.
(c) Implementation.--Not <<NOTE: Deadline.>> later than December 1,
2001, the Federal Crop Insurance Corporation and the Risk Management
Agency shall complete implementation of the plan submitted under
SEC. 6. <<NOTE: 7 USC 7035.>> CONFIDENTIALITY.
In carrying out this Act, the Secretary--
(1) may not make available any information over the Internet
that would otherwise not be available for release under section
552 or 552a of title 5, United States Code; and
(2) shall ensure, to the maximum extent practicable, that
the confidentiality of persons is maintained.
Approved June 20, 2000.
LEGISLATIVE HISTORY--S. 777 (H.R. 852):
HOUSE REPORTS: No. 106-565 accompanying H.R. 852 (Comm. on Agriculture).
Vol. 145 (1999):
Nov. 4, considered and passed
Vol. 146 (2000):
Apr. 10, considered and passed
May 18, Senate concurred in House
amendments with an amendment.
June 6, House concurred in Senate