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United States Department of Agriculture

Agricultural Research Service



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Quick Reference Guide


Chapter 7
Electronic Resources and Information Systems

With the help of personal computers, a wealth of electronic resources and information systems may be accessed through the Internet or via E-Mail. These electronic resources and information systems are "For Official Use Only." The REE Bulletin referenced below outlines the policy for use of the Internet and E-mail. It includes specifics on acceptable uses, rules of on-line behavior, and responsibilities of management and users.

Acronyms:  See Chapter 2 for a comprehensive list of commonly used acronyms.


  • DR 3140-1 - USDA Information Systems Security Policy 
  • P&P 253.4 – Use of Information Technology Resources
  • FY15 Email - Use of Non-Official Electronic Messaging Accounts for Official Business

Web Sites:

Points of Contact:

Hank Davis
Information Technology Specialist
Natural Resources Research Center
2150 Centre Avenue, Building D, Suite 310
Fort Collins, CO 80526-8119
Telephone: (970) 492-7012
Fax: (970) 492-7049

Nadene Grow
Information Technology Specialist
Natural Resources Research Center
2150 Centre Avenue, Building D, Suite 310
Fort Collins, CO 80526-8119
Telephone: (970) 492-7019
Fax: (970) 492-7049

Heather Gossel
Information Technology Specialist
Natural Resources Research Center
2150 Centre Avenue, Building D, Suite 310
Fort Collins, CO 80526-8119
Telephone: (970) 492-7047
Fax: (970) 492-7049

NPA Helpdesk
USDA-ARS-NPA Natural Resources Research Center
2150 Centre Avenue, Building D, Suite 310
Fort Collins, CO 80526-8119
Telephone: (970) 492-7111
Fax: (970) 492-7049

Three most frequently used policy statements include:  

USDA Nondiscrimination

The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) prohibits discrimination in all its programs and activities on the basis of race, color, national origin, age, disability, and where applicable, sex, marital status, familial status, parental status, religion, sexual orientation, genetic information, political beliefs, reprisal, or because all or part of an individual's income is derived from any public assistance program. (Not all prohibited bases apply to all programs.) Persons with disabilities who require alternative means for communication of program information (Braille, large print, audiotape, etc.) should contact USDA's TARGETCenterat (202) 720-2600 (voice and TDD).

To file a complaint of discrimination, write to USDA, Director, Office of Civil Rights, 1400 Independence Avenue, S.W., Washington, D.C.20250-9410, or call (800) 795-3272 (voice) or (202) 720-6382 (TDD). USDA is an equal opportunity provider and employer.

Government System Usage Policy

This information service operates on a U.S. Government computer system. This system is monitored to ensure proper operation, to verify the functioning of applicable security features, and for other like purposes. Anyone using this system expressly consents to such monitoring and is advised that if such monitoring reveals evidence of possible criminal activity, system personnel may provide the evidence of such activity to law enforcement officials. Unauthorized attempts to upload or change information; to defeat or circumvent security features; or to utilize this system for other than its intended purposes are prohibited.

Commercial Endorsement Disclaimer

The use of trade, firm, or corporation names in this publication (or page) is for the information and convenience of the reader. Such use does not constitute an official endorsement or approval by the United States Department of Agriculture or the Agricultural Research Service of any product or service to the exclusion of others that may be suitable.

e-Forms (Informs Replacement):

The replacement for Informs is FormFinder for the Web from FormSoft Group, called FormFinder. The web address is: and uses the same username and password as E-mail, SharePoint, and the REE Directory.

FormFinder for the Web is a Web form and data repository solution that provides easy end-user access to forms and records and powerful centralized data storage, as well as basic routing of forms. The end user will complete forms using Adobe Acrobat Reader software.

Features of the FormFinder for the Web product include:

  • FormFinder for the Web is licensed by server and not per seat. All employees will have the ability to use these forms.
  • A centralized forms catalogue and database are provided.
  • The user has the ability to fill-in and save completed forms to the ORACLE database for future retrieval.
  • FormFinder for the Web meets Section 508 accessibility standards.
  • FormFinder for the Web has the capacity to route PDF forms to other users via E-mail. When a form is routed, an E-mail is sent to the receiving user. This E-mail contains a link to the completed form located in FormFinder and not the actual form.
  • Signature capability: Adobe Document Server for Reader Extension (ADSRE) is needed to enable Adobe Acrobat Reader to support digital signature. Third party software is also needed to establish secure signature: Verisign, Entrust, or Silanis.
  • FormFinder for the Web can pre-populate the form with basic information about the end user based on information stored from a user profile. This saves significant re-keying time and insures accurate data.
  • Forms currently saved in Informs will not be moved to e-Forms. Currently your data is saved locally, either on your hard drive or on the network. We have no way of capturing that data to be moved to the new central database. Secondly, the format of FormSoft database is not compatible with the way data was saved for InForms.

Other Forms:

Standard Form SF-182 Guidance

The Department issued a memo mandating the use of the online Standard Form (SF) 182 for external training requests and approvals in AgLearn, effective October 1, 2007. To support this mandate, all offices must begin using the electronic version in AgLearn immediately. The form can be found by accessing the AgLearn website.

  1. Login under the student link.
  2. From the welcome page, select the blue "Learning" tab.
  3. Under the Learning tab, select the "SF-182 Requests" link.
  4. From the Request, Authorization, Agreement & Certification of Training screen, scroll to the bottom of the page and select the blue "New Request" button.
  5. The fillable SF-182 form will appear.

Instructions can be found by going to the website section of this chapter and under web sites, you will find a link for SF-182 instructions. These instructions supplement those provided by OPM with the new form. The supplemental instructions provide agency-specific guidance on completing various parts of the form.

Electronic Mail & Area Calendar:

Exchange is the Agency enterprise E-mail system. Outlook is the primary client used in accessing your official ARS E-mail and provides several features including spam and anti-virus filtering as well as offline archival storage and retrieval. Currently there is a 100 MB limitation on the size of your mailbox. If you require a larger mailbox, you will need to provide a business case to your supervisor who then will forward it to the NPA Helpdesk for approval.

The Area Office has a calendar in Microsoft Outlook that shows the availability of Area personnel on a daily/hourly basis. To add this calendar to your viewed calendars in Outlook, you can obtain instructions on the Area SharePoint site by clicking on the following link and going to the Outlook Calendar Instructions folder (ARSNet login required).


SharePoint is the Agency vehicle for sharing information in real time, including surveys, discussion boards, version controlled document libraries, etc. It also serves as the foundation for the upcoming ARS Intranet, ARSNet. In short, SharePoint is a powerful collaboration tool which we believe will be a great resource in assisting you in your job. Future uses of the tool include OSQR collaborations and other projects which are expected to start soon. Username and password are required to access the team sites to which you have access. All employees have access to the main ARS site located here:  

USDA eAuthentication:

USDA eAuthentication is the system used by USDA agencies to enable customers to obtain accounts that will allow them access to USDA Web applications and services via the Internet. This includes things such as submitting forms electronically, completing surveys online, and checking the status of your USDA accounts. Within a couple of pay periods upon hire, you will receive an E-mail message asking you to eAuthenticate which will allow you to register your account and password.


AgLearn is USDA's Learning Management System (LMS) and it has over 3,000 free online courses availabe to all USDA employees. New courses and books are frequently added to AgLearn and Books 24x7. To access the system you must first have eAuthenticated.


Last Modified: 5/8/2015
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