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S. 777 (eas) [Engrossed Amendment Senate] ...


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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.

Pages: 1

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