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S. 777 (eas) [Engrossed Amendment Senate] ...
106th CONGRESS 2d Session S. 777 _______________________________________________________________________ AMENDMENTS In the House of Representatives, U. S., April 10, 2000. Resolved, That the bill from the Senate (S. 777) entitled ``An Act to require the Department of Agriculture to establish an electronic filing and retrieval system to enable the public to file all required paperwork electronically with the Department and to have access to public information on farm programs, quarterly trade, economic, and production reports, and other similar information'', do pass with the following AMENDMENTS: Strike out all after the enacting clause and insert: SECTION 1. SHORT TITLE. This Act may be cited as the ``Freedom to E-File Act''. SEC. 2. ELECTRONIC FILING AND RETRIEVAL. (a) Establishment of Internet-Based System.--The Secretary of Agriculture shall establish an electronic filing and retrieval system that uses the telecommunications medium known as the Internet to enable farmers and other persons-- (1) to file electronically all paperwork required by the agencies of the Department of Agriculture specified in subsection (b); and (2) to have access electronically to information, readily available to the public in published form, regarding farm programs, quarterly trade, economic, and production reports, price and supply information, and other similar information related to production agriculture. (b) Covered Agencies.--Subsection (a) shall apply to the following agencies of the Department of Agriculture: (1) The Farm Service Agency. (2) The Risk Management Agency. (3) The Natural Resources Conservation Service. (4) 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). (c) Time-Table for Implementation.--Not later than 180 days after the date of the enactment of this Act, the Secretary shall-- (1) to the maximum extent practicable, complete the establishment of the electronic filing and retrieval system required by subsection (a) to the extent necessary to permit the electronic information access required by paragraph (2) of such subsection; (2) initiate implementation of the electronic filing required by paragraph (1) of such subsection by allowing farmers and other persons to download forms from the Internet and submit completed forms via facsimile, mail, or related means; and (3) modify forms used by the agencies specified in subsection (b) into a more user-friendly format, with self-help guidance materials. (d) Interoperability.--In carrying out this section, the Secretary shall ensure that the agencies specified in subsection (b)-- (1) use computer hardware and software that is compatible among the agencies and will operate in a common computing environment; and (2) develop common Internet user-interface locations and applications to consolidate the agencies' news, information, and program materials. (e) Completion of Implementation.--Not later than 2 years after the date of the enactment of this Act, the Secretary shall complete the establishment of the electronic filing and retrieval system required by subsection (a) to permit the electronic filing required by paragraph (1) of such subsection. (f) Progress Report.--Not later than 180 days after the date of the enactment of this Act, the Secretary shall submit to Congress a report describing the progress made toward establishing the electronic filing and retrieval system required by subsection (a). SEC. 3. AVAILABILITY OF AGENCY INFORMATION TECHNOLOGY FUNDS. (a) Reservation of Funds.--From funds made available for each agency of the Department of Agriculture specified in section 2(b) for information technology or information resource management, the Secretary of Agriculture shall reserve an amount equal to not more than the following: (1) For fiscal year 2001, $3,000,000. (2) For each subsequent fiscal year, $2,000,000. (b) Time 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.--Funds reserved under subsection (a) shall be used to establish the electronic filing and retrieval system required by section 2(a). 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, and such funds shall remain available until expended. SEC. 4. CONFIDENTIALITY. In carrying out this Act, the Secretary of Agriculture-- (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. Amend the title so as to read ``An Act 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.''. Attest: Clerk.
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