The National Agricultural Statistics Service (NASS) is modernizing and building for the future by focusing on three strategic initiatives during the next three to five years.

The initiatives include creating a data collection dashboard, reimagining NASS’ operating model and improving agricultural data users’ experience.

In order to meet its goals, NASS expects to devote $10 million to $15 million per year during the next few years.

“Most of all, this will ensure NASS will continue to provide relevant data to address key topics to agriculture, such as climate change, sustainability and conservation, along with supporting research access and the business needs of our data providers and data users,” Bryan Combs, chief of staff at NASS, said during the USDA Data Users’ Meeting.

The first strategic initiative focuses on respondents and involves creating an online data collection dashboard. This would provide a single point of entry for producers to work on and submit surveys. The dashboard would also allow producers to interact with survey results.

The second initiative focuses on NASS employees and entails streamlining operations, improving data quality, equipping staff with the best tools and recruiting top talent.

The last initiative focuses on data users and will transform NASS’ data interfaces by simplifying access, increasing usability, creating modern analysis tools and integrating web content.

NASS also has other new tools it’s experimenting with, such as USDA cloud computing, Google Earth Engine, Amazon Web Services, machine learning and predictive modeling.

In addition, building partnerships with other USDA agencies continues to be important.

“As you all know, there’s a vast amount of data out there, and NASS is doing everything it can to make use of all the data by all the various USDA agencies and ease the burden on the producer,” assured Dan Kerestes, NASS employee.

Overall, NASS looks to replace its aging information technology systems, ease survey burden, provide timelier information and integrate new insights.

“We always welcome your feedback,” concluded Combs. “So, as data users and any of our producers out there, if you have comments on what you would like to see in data products, how we can improve, things like the dashboard, feel free to share that with us.”