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Overview of TSP Certification Process

Overview of Technical Service Provider Certification Process

Certification (valid for a three year period)

1. Determine if you want to be certified

  • Access the NRCS national TechReg web site at: http://www.nrcs.usda.gov/wps/portal/nrcs/main/national/programs/technical/tsp
    Click on the “Practice Categories and Eligibility Criteria Options” link from the section titled Conservation Practice Design, Installation, and Checkout. Review the categories that you have an interest in for certification and the criteria that you must meet to receive certification.
  • Click on “TSP Certification Agreement” link located in the TSP Resources box and review.
  • Continue if you meet all the required criteria and wish to apply for certification.

2. Request certification.

  • “Getting the appropriate accounts and passwords needed to request certification”
  1. Access the NRCS national TechReg web site at: http://www.nrcs.usda.gov/wps/portal/nrcs/main/national/programs/technical/tsp 
  2. Click on the “Become A TSP” link located in the TechReg – TSP Registry box on the right side of the page. Your web browser will be directed to a step-by-step guide for registering as a TSP.
  3. Click on “Obtain an eAuthentication Level 2 Account” link located in Step 1 of the Step-by-Step Guide for Registering as a TSP if you do not have an eAuthentication (eAuth) account. You will be taken to the eAuth registration site. Complete all of the required fields as part of requesting an account. The security questions are used in the case of a forgotten password and a password re-set is needed.
    Selected passwords must meet strict requirements. Help for completing your user information is available by clicking the link located below the password field.
  4. Once the necessary information is submitted, an email will be generated providing instructions in how to activate your eAuth account. The eAuth account must be activated within 7 days. Click on the “ACTIVATE MY ACCOUNT” link in the email. Responding to the account activation email by clicking on the link is a critical step in the account registration and activation process and cannot be bypassed.
  5. After you click on the email link, visit a local USDA Service Center in person. Notify the USDA personnel that you need a Local Registration Authority to validate your Level 2 account request. The USDA employee at the Service Center will verify your identity and activate your account on the USDA side. You can find the location and contact information for a Service Center near you at http://offices.sc.egov.usda.gov/locator/app. It’s a good idea to call ahead to verify whether or not a Local Registration Authority is available to verify your identity and activate your account. (Generally there are only one or two individuals in a local USDA Service Center available to process a Level 2 account activation). It’s also a good idea to print the email message and bring it with you to the local USDA Service Center as contact information included in the message will assist our personnel in locating the right record in the national eAuth database. TechReg will not allow you to login and start building your TSP profile until you have had your identity verified and your eAuth Level 2 account activated on the USDA side.
  6. Once your account is activated by the USDA employee, you should receive an email stating that your account is ready for use to access USDA applications (i.e., TechReg). Note: Neither an activated level 2 eAuth account nor an assigned TSP application number means you are certified.
  • “Requesting certification”
  1. Detailed instructions for the Application Process are available under Step 2 of the “Become a TSP” link for printing or viewing.
  2. Return to the main TSP site and click the “Log into TechReg Website” button. Use your activated userID and password to log into the TechReg site and follow the instructions referenced above to build your profile and request certification.
  • “Registering for an AgLearn account”
  1. NRCS provides TSPs access to The Agriculture Learning (AgLearn) Service educational services for USDA federal employees, contractors, partners and customers. NRCS provides http://www.aglearn.usda.gov to TSPs so that they may take online courses needed for certification or recertification.
  2. Please note that Conservation Planning Modules 1 – 5 and the TSP Orientation Course are basic requirements for certification in all categories and conservation activity plans. Some categories and conservation activity plans require that additional training be completed through AgLearn.
  3. Go to http://aglearn.usda.gov
  4. DO NOT click Login. Click the link for “Sign Up Now” that is located below the Login button.
  5. On the following page, click Register. At this point, you will be asked to Login using your eAuth userID and password)
  6. Complete the registration page.
  1. Agency: Select Natural Resources Conservation Service, or NRCS
  2. USDA Organizational Unit: Select Illinois TSP
  3. Name of USDA Official to Sponsor Access to AgLearn: Select David Walling
  4. Are you a USDA Contractor, Partner, or Student?: Select Partner
  5. You may see two other blanks to complete concerning who is your point of contact. Enter the name and email address of the person who activated your eAuth account. The email address format is firstname.lastname@il.usda.gov.  If you are unsure of the address of the individual activating your account, use glen.franke@il.usda.gov.
  1. An email should be auto generated by AgLearn and sent to the email address of record in your eAuth profile if you have successfully registered for an AgLearn account. If you do not receive an email from AgLearn indicating that your request is being reviewed, then your request did not get submitted successfully.
  2. Wait until the designated USDA State Training Officer activates your account. Account activation may take up to 3 working days. The training officer will contact you upon activation of your AgLearn account.
     

3. Common issues and problems in requesting certification:

  • Profile Part 1 Section A. Contact Information. You are responsible for keeping your contact information up to date. Use the “Add/Update Contact Info” button to make necessary changes.
  • Profile Part 1 Section B. Associated Companies/Agencies. This section is normally left blank and only used when you wish to have an affiliated business or agency appear on TechReg.
  • Profile Part 1 Section C. Accreditations/Licenses. Certification criteria for some categories require licenses or accreditations. Your application will not be processed if required licenses or accreditations are not shown in this section or if your license has expired.
  • Profile Part 1 Section E1- Professional References. Always fill this section out and try to provide references from clients. Certification criteria for some categories require references specific to the category or practice for which you are requesting certification (indicated by the red “Required” text as part of the qualifications necessary for the certification category found in Section G1 or G2). In such cases, your application will not be processed if Section E1 is not completed. Additionally, NRCS staff will be looking at this section carefully for all categories. 
  • Profile Part I Section F-Familiarity with NRCS Guidelines, Criteria, Standards, and Specifications. Section F is often left blank or is lacking in specifics. The NRCS will not certify you until you have familiarized yourself with NRCS conservation practice technical guidance for planning and implementation of conservation practices.
  • Profile Part 1 Section F1 NRCS Conservation Planning Training Requirements. Not indicating that you have taken Modules 1-5 of the Conservation Planning course or have equivalent knowledge leaves your application in a “pending” or “incomplete” status.
  • Profile Part 1 Section F2- TSP Orientation. (Does not apply to renewal requests.) Not indicating that you have taken the TSP Orientation course leaves your application in a “pending” or “incomplete” status.
  • Profile Part 2 Section G1-Certification Categories. Select and add the category (ies) for which you are requesting certification. Then indicate how you are qualified to be certified in each requested category by clicking on the “Confirm Qualifications” button. To confirm your qualifications, select the option within each requested category which lists the criteria that best describes your situation. Toggle your preferred option by clicking the radio button in the far left column). Then indicate “how the criteria was met” (Check the appropriate boxes, such as education, work experience, references, &/or NRCS familiarity). “Save” your entries. This section should show a “ready to sign” status (as in ready for signing your certification agreement) if you have completed and saved everything correctly. Repeat the process for the other requested categories if you are requesting certification in multiple categories. After signing the agreement in section J this section should show a “submitted” status (as in submitted for review). If you miss something, your application will show “pending” or “incomplete” and you won’t be allowed to sign your certification agreement and your certification will not be reviewed. The only status you ultimately want to see is “submitted”, indicating your application has been submitted for review.
  • Profile Part 2 Section G2-Conservation Activity Plans. Select and add the Conservation Activity Plans (CAP) for which you are requesting certification. Landusers who enter into contracts with NRCS for financial assistance in the development of various types of management plans such as nutrient management, forest management, comprehensive nutrient management, etc. must have those plans developed by a qualified TSP who has been certified for development of the CAP for the landuser. Indicate how you are qualified to be certified in each requested CAP by clicking on the “Confirm Qualifications” button. To confirm your qualifications, select the option within each requested CAP which lists the criteria that best describes your situation. Toggle your preferred option by clicking the radio button in the far left column). Then indicate “how the criteria was met” (Check the appropriate boxes, such as education, work experience, references, &/or NRCS familiarity). “Save” your entries. This section should show a “ready to sign” status (as in ready for signing your certification agreement) if you have completed and saved everything correctly. Repeat the process for the other requested CAPs if you are requesting certification in multiple CAPs. After signing the agreement in section J this section should show a “submitted” status (as in submitted for review). If you miss something, your application will show “pending” or “incomplete” and you won’t be allowed to sign your certification agreement and your certification will not be reviewed. The only status you ultimately want to see is “submitted” indicating your application has been submitted for review.

Mistakes are often made in sections G1 and G2. Some candidates fail to select or toggle an “option.” Others fail to check one or more “how criteria were met” boxes making the application “pending” or “incomplete.” Others fail to provide references in Section E1 when references are mandatory.

  • Profile Part 2 Section H-Services. Many applicants select all the conservation practices (services) available through the category (ies) selected in Section G1 rather than limiting services to those for which they have experience.
  • Profile Part 2 Section I – Servicing Areas. If you wish to limit your service to a specific county or counties within the state, the service area can be specified in Section I.
  • Profile Part 2 Section J-Certification Agreement. Applicants sometimes do not complete this section even though everything else has been correctly completed. TSP candidates must review and electronically sign the certification agreement. Certification agreements that have not been signed will show a “Ready to Sign” status for all requested certification categories (or possibly an “incomplete” status) and will not be “Submitted” to NRCS for review. Anytime you “update” Section G1 or G2 you will have to re-sign the Part J certification agreement. However your original certification renewal date remains the same. Successfully completing your application puts it into a “Submitted” status in Section G. If it says “Submitted” you know that state TSP Coordinators have been sent your application for review. Additionally, you will receive an E-mail telling you that you have successfully requested certification.

4. Review of requested certification.

  • NRCS employees in each state you are requesting certification in will review and verify your application by:
  1. Checking required licenses
  2. Checking completion of required courses
  3. Checking references when these are a required criteria
  4. Occasionally asking for work examples on certain practices such as “prescribed burning ”
  5. Often asking you how you became familiar with NRCS standards and policies
  6. Occasionally asking you about your experience with specific conservation practices (services) that you are requesting certification for within a category
  7. Some states will interview you

Certification renewal

Your certification is valid for three years. You will be notified by NRCS via e-mail or letter at least 60 days
in advance that it is time to request renewal.

For More Information

Glen Franke
TSP Coordinator
NRCS in Illinois
glen.franke@il.usda.gov