Montana Rural Development Employee Helps Bring Award Winning Innovation to the Field

Michael Dann
Release Date
Jul 22, 2015

   USDA Rural Development is always looking for innovative ways to improve their customer service and to streamline their processes to benefit both the customers and employees in every program.

   Lea McGiboney, Area Director, Rural Development in Great Falls, took part in the iPad Task Force that was successful in improving the Multi-Family Housing (MFH) Program process using iPads.

   “It was a wonderful experience and it will benefit the MFH field staff immensely,” according to Lea.

   The MFH Program has been an area of focus for improvement because it requires numerous on-site inspections and reviews of the tenants and management by Rural Development staff at the housing complexes.

   The iPad Task Force, made up of MFH Specialists from around the country, explored the use of iPads to improve the way data is recorded to enhance and streamline the reports. The iPads allow the staff to process reports and have access to past data on the spot rather than back at the office. The data is then uploaded to the Multi-Family Information System or MFIS, decreasing the need for “hard copies” of the reports to be kept in the servicing files, reducing file sizes and storage necessity.

   Lea and others on the task force also identified tools and applications like MapQuest to see if they could and should be used by Rural Development field representatives for the reports.

   Once certain applications, tools and any other needs were identified, the task force worked closely with IT staff to overcome security, compatibility, and site access issues while in the test mode before being rolled out to the field staff.

   Lea’s hard and successful work on the task force was rewarded with her receiving the Rural Housing Service Innovation Award.

   USDA’s investments in rural communities support the rural way of life that stands as the backbone of our American values. President Obama and Agriculture Secretary Vilsack are committed to a smarter use of federal resources to foster sustainable economic prosperity and ensure the government is a strong partner for business, entrepreneurs and working families in rural communities.