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Frequently Asked Questions

What is Controlled Correspondence?
Any document for the signature of the Associate Chief and above. These documents are assigned a unique number for tracking purposes. All Controlled Correspondence (letters to be signed by the Associate Chief and above) must come through NRCS' Executive Correspondence Management Team (ECMT). ECMT is part of the Public Affairs Division under the Office of the Chief.

Why is it necessary to control correspondence?
Documents are controlled so they can easily be tracked. This assures accountability so that inquiries are responded to in an accurate, efficient, and timely manner. In addition, correspondence for the Department has a quick turn-around time, and ECMT is responsible for ensuring deadlines are met.

What is the best way to submit an inquiry to NRCS?
The public may write to NRCS at any time with questions regarding specific programs or to obtain general information. In addition, the public may wish to contact their NRCS State office or local Service Center to obtain help or inquire about specific programs. See the list of contacts on the “How to Submit a Letter” page.

How long does it take to process an inquiry?
This depends on the complexity of the inquiry. Basic inquiries can be answered very quickly, and complex inquiries take more time to research and gather information. ECMT strives to provide responses to all inquiries within 8 working days.

How is correspondence processed in NRCS?
When a letter is submitted to the Secretary requesting specific information on an NRCS-related issue, the USDA Office of Executive Secretariat (OES) sends the request for information to ECMT. These requests are referred to as controlled correspondence. ECMT works with subject matter experts to provide the correct information for the Secretary’s review of the response.

Inquiries submitted to the NRCS Chief are directed to the agency's subject matter experts who ensure that responses provide accurate and up-to-date information. ECMT finalizes the correspondence for the Chief’s signature.

Who sets the timeframe to respond to inquiries?
The Department sets the guidelines and NRCS follows these guidelines.

What happens if we cannot meet the deadline?
An interim response must be prepared and signed by the Chief if response cannot be answered within 10 working days.