Policies and Links
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USDA.gov maintains the Accessibility Statement page which can be accessed at:
Freedom of Information Act
The Freedom of Information Act (FOIA), which can be found in Title 5 of the United States Code, section 552, was enacted in 1966 and provides that any person has the right to request access to federal agency records or information. All agencies of the United States government are required to disclose records upon receiving a written request for them, except for those records that are protected from disclosure by the nine exemptions and three exclusions of the FOIA. This right of access is enforceable in court. The federal FOIA does not, however, provide access to records held by state or local government agencies, or by private businesses or individuals. All states have their own statutes governing public access to state and local records; state agencies should be consulted for further information about them.
USDA maintains a FOIA home page which can be accessed at:
USDA's Significant Guidance Documents
On January 18, 2007, the President issued Executive Order 13422, "Amendment to Executive Order 12866 for Regulatory Planning and Review." On that same day, the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) issued a final Bulletin entitled, "Agency Good Guidance Practices." The primary focus of the Executive Order and Bulletin is to increase the quality and transparency of agency guidance practices and the significant documents produced through them.
Digital Rights and Copyright
Most information presented on the USDA Web site is considered public domain information. Public domain information may be freely distributed or copied, but use of appropriate byline/photo/image credits is requested. Attribution may be cited as follows: "U. S. Department of Agriculture."
Some materials on the USDA Web site are protected by copyright, trademark, or patent, and/or are provided for personal use only. Such materials are used by USDA with permission, and USDA has made every attempt to identify and clearly label them. You may need to obtain permission from the copyright, trademark, or patent holder to acquire, use, reproduce, or distribute these materials.
Congress has not granted the Department a trademark. Use of the USDA symbol is stated below:
"USDA Symbols or logos are intended for the official use of the United States Department of Agriculture only. They are expressly excluded from use to imply endorsement of a commercial product or service. The symbol or logo may not be used by anyone outside of USDA without permission."
Links to Other Sites
The U.S. Department of Agriculture's (USDA) official web site is www.usda.gov. The USDA website provides links to other websites to provide additional information that may be useful or interesting, and is being provided in a manner consistent with the intended purpose of the content you are viewing on the USDA website. USDA is providing these links for your reference. Once you access another site through a link that we provide, you are subject to the copyright and licensing restrictions of the new site.
It is the sole responsibility of you, the user of this site, to carefully examine the content of the site and all linked pages for privacy, copyright and licensing restrictions and to secure all necessary permissions if applicable.
The image denotes you are leaving the USDA website and entering an external link or a third-party site.
USDA observes laws governing patents, and provides information about patented items via the website www.ars.usda.gov.
You may need permission from the patent holder to use or duplicate provisions in the patent.
No Fear Act
On May 15, 2002, President Bush signed legislation called the No FEAR Act (Notification and Federal Anti-Discrimination and Retaliation Act of 2002). This law became effective on October 1, 2003. The primary purpose of the Act is to improve agency accountability for antidiscrimination and whistleblower laws.
USDA No Fear Act can be accessed at:
Non-Disclosure Agreements Notice
As a United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) employee, you may have been required to sign a non-disclosure policy, form, or agreement (NDA) to access classified or other information. You should read the following statement as if it were incorporated into any NDA you have signed:
"These provisions are consistent with and do not supersede, conflict with, or otherwise alter the employee obligations, rights, or liabilities created by existing statute or Executive order relating to (1) classified information, (2) communications to Congress, (3) the reporting to an Inspector General of a violation of any law, rule, or regulation, or mismanagement, a gross waste of funds, an abuse of authority, or a substantial and specific danger to public health or safety, or (4) any other whistleblower protection. The definitions, requirements, obligations, rights, sanctions, and liabilities created by controlling Executive orders and statutory provisions are incorporated into this agreement and are controlling."
The provisions in the following list of Executive orders and statutory provisions are controlling in the case of any conflict with an USDA NDA.
- Executive Order No. 13526;
- Section 7211 of Title 5, United States Code (governing disclosures to Congress);
- Section 1034 of Title 10, United States Code, as amended by the Military Whistleblower Protection Act (governing disclosure to Congress by members of the military);
- Section 2302(b)(8) of Title 5, United States Code, as amended by the Whistleblower Protection Act of 1989 (governing disclosures of illegality, waste, fraud, abuse or public health or safety threats);
- Intelligence Identities Protection Act of 1982 (50 U.S.C. § 421, et seq.) (governing disclosures that could expose confidential Government agents);
- The statutes which protect against disclosure that may compromise the national security, including sections 641, 793, 794, 798, and 952 of Title 18, United States Code; and
- Section 4(b) of the Subversive Activities Act of 1950 (50 U.S.C. § 783(b)).
Quality of Information
USDA will strive to ensure and maximize the quality, objectivity, utility, and integrity of the information that its agencies and offices disseminate to the public.
Information presented on the USDA website is considered public information and may be distributed or copied. Use of appropriate byline/photo/image credits is requested.
1. For site security purposes and to ensure that this service remains available to all users, this government computer system employs software programs to monitor network traffic to identify unauthorized attempts to upload or change information, or otherwise cause damage.
2. Except for authorized law enforcement investigations, no other attempts are made to identify individual users or their usage habits. Raw data logs are used for no other purposes and are scheduled for regular destruction in accordance with National Archives and Records Administration General Schedule 20.
3. Unauthorized attempts to upload information or change information on this service are strictly prohibited and may be punishable under the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act of 1986 and the National Information Infrastructure Protection Act.
Web Content Publishing Schedule
Section 207(f)(2) of the E-Government Act of 2002 requires federal agencies to develop an inventory of information to be published on their Web sites, establish a schedule for publishing information, make those schedules available for public comment, and post the schedules and priorities on the Web site.
Comments or Questions
If you have any comments or questions about the information presented here, please forward them to firstname.lastname@example.org.
The Whistleblower Protection Enhancement Act
The Whistleblower Protection Enhancement Act of 2012 was signed into law on November 27, 2012. The Act strengthens protection for federal employees who blow the whistle on waste, fraud, and abuse in government operations.
Whistleblower disclosures can save lives as well as billions of taxpayer dollars. They play a critical role in keeping our Government honest, efficient, and accountable. Recognizing that whistleblowers root out waste, fraud, and abuse, and protect public health and safety, federal laws strongly encourage employees to disclose wrongdoing. Federal laws also protect whistleblowers from retaliation.
The Whistleblower Protection Enhancement Act of 2012 directs Inspectors General to designate a Whistleblower Protection Ombudsman. The Ombudsman's role is to educate agency employees about prohibitions on retaliation for protected disclosures, and educate agency employees who have made or are contemplating making a protected disclosure about the rights and remedies against retaliation for protected disclosures. The Ombudsman is prohibited from acting as an employee's or former employee's legal representative, agent, or advocate.
OIG has designated a Whistleblower Protection Ombudsman. U.S. Department of Agriculture employees may contact the Ombudsman at OIGombudsman@oig.usda.gov. For more information on the Whistleblower Protection Enhancement Act of 2012, please view the Whistleblower Protection Enhancement Act of 2012 (PDF, 219KB). In addition, you can visit the OIG Ombudsman page. You also may visit the United States Office of Special Counsel (OSC) website.
The following items are educational materials created by the United States OSC in order to assist Federal Government employees in knowing their rights and responsibilities in reporting wrongdoing.