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USDA National Finance Center Reopens In Eastern New Orleans


WASHINGTON, Nov. 15, 2005--The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s National Finance Center (NFC) reopened its doors in eastern New Orleans this month to more than 300 returning staff. For many, this was the first time to see many of their colleagues since August 27, 2005, before the onslaught of Hurricane Katrina.

“Our return to the National Finance Center’s worksite in eastern New Orleans is part of USDA’s commitment to the region,” said Agriculture Secretary Mike Johanns. “We will continue returning NFC’s employees to New Orleans, just as we will continue our efforts to provide food and rural housing while also assisting farmers and ranchers in the region.”

Full reconstitution in New Orleans is dependent upon stabilization of its information technology infrastructure and the ability to find alternative housing for 462 employees whose homes became uninhabitable due to Katrina.

NFC provides payroll and personnel services supporting more than 565,000 Federal employees. NFC disburses more than $50 billion annually. It also maintains records of federal health benefits and retirement accounts for more than 3 million federal employees.

On August 27, in response to the approaching Hurricanes Katrina, NFC relocated employees to six alternative worksites and shutdown the facility. Within three days, the NFC staff successfully executed its disaster recovery and continuity of operations plans - resuming essential services for its customers.

Despite the relocation, NFC successfully accomplished the next payroll process, setting records for the number of employees paid in a single pay period (more than 565,000) and the amount of funds disbursed (more than $2.7 billion).

“The incredible accomplishments of the NFC staff were made in spite of one of the largest and most devastating natural disasters to ever affect the United States,” said USDA’s Acting Chief Financial Officer Patricia Healy. “The loss of the use of our facilities and equipment, a quick evacuation of employees, seriously degraded telecommunications and transportation infrastructures, limited availability to gasoline, and widespread power outages all contributed to the crisis situation. It was amazing to observe how our employees diverted from their personal concerns to focus on the mission, keeping the customer’s interest foremost in their mind.”

NFC opened in New Orleans in 1973, combining several USDA organizations in the process. Since that time, NFC has grown from a USDA administrative payments center to a shared service center supporting more than 130 Federal organizations.


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