Gwinn pushing to understand Farm Service Agency's business needs

Wednesday - 10/6/2010, 1:57pm EDT

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October 7, 2010 -- Jim Gwinn grew up on a small family farm in West Virginia. He spent most of his career working in the private sector on telecommunications issues. Gwinn is now bringing both of his backgrounds together as the chief information officer for the Agriculture Department's Farm Service Agency (FSA).

Gwinn has been CIO for about 18 months and is enjoying his first foray into government service.

He said he is taking a mission-first approach to upgrading FSA's technology. In fact, Gwinn is sending teams of software developers to county offices to understand the field's requirements and to get a better understanding of the environments they work in.

He said it's a part of a bureau-wide listening tour to better serve county offices, farmers and producers.

FSA, which had an IT budget of about $377 million in 2010, has several ongoing technology projects.

Gwinn said an effort to modernize FSA's geospatial systems is close to completion, while the agency and its contractor could begin work on the MIDAS financial modernization system effort in 2011.