NRCS provides conservation planning and technical assistance to agricultural producers and others who make natural resource management decisions.
What is a Technical Service Provider or TSP?
Technical Service Providers, or TSPs, offer services to agricultural producers such as farmers, ranchers, and private forest landowners on behalf of the Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS). TSPs help these producers plan, design, and implement conservation practices. They also develop conservation planning activities (CPA) to improve agricultural operations.
TSPs include individuals, private businesses, American Indian Tribes, nonprofit organizations, and public agencies. TSPs broaden the scope of conservation technical assistance being provided and offer customized, one-on-one conservation advice to agricultural producers.
What are the expectations of a TSP?
The Technical Service Provider Certification Agreement states what is required of a TSP. The agreement indirectly states expectations. The expectations are the at a certified TSP will know NRCS conservation practice standards, specifications, and statements of work located within the Field Office Technical Guide (FOTG). When a TSP signs off on a conservation plan or certification of a practice, they are stating that plan or practice meets NRCS standards and specifications, and all required documents outlined on the statement of work and/or conservation planning activity for each practice has been provided.
A link to additional information for active TSPs can be found at the bottom of this page.
How to become a TSP?
There are six steps you need to complete to become a TSP. Scroll down for more information on each step. Please complete all steps entirely so your application can be processed:
- Make a plan that meets NRCS requirements. Requirements for each activity can be found below.
- Create an eAuthentication account.
- Verify your identity.
- Log into NRCS Registry.
- Request an AgLearn account (online training system) and complete required trainings.
- Obtain TSP certification.
Create an eAuthentication account
To get started becoming a TSP, individuals will need to sign up for a verified USDA eAuthentication account.
- Fill out the online registration form by selecting 'Create an Account' using the 'Customer' user type and entering your email address. The email address must be unique and cannot be shared with any other account in the system (active or inactive) as it will be the User ID for login.
- It is important to maintain and keep secure your eAuth User ID and password. Passwords do not expire and can be reset provided you have access to the email address associated with the account.
- After submitting the form, you should receive an activation email within a few minutes. When you receive the activation email from USDA eAuthentication, use the link to “Activate My Account.” This step is a security measure designed to confirm you created the account and must be completed before you can proceed.
eAuth Helpful Hint: The email address used to create your eAuth Account should be an account that you plan to retain access long-term. Should you lose access to the email account BEFORE you have a chance to update it in your eAuth account, you will be forced to create a new eAuth. If you are forced to create a new eAuth, then you must submit a ticket to NRCS Registry Helpdesk to have your new eAuth linked to your TSP account in NRCS Registry.
If you need eAuth assistance you can reach the eAuth Helpdesk by calling 970-372-4200, by email at firstname.lastname@example.org, or at https://www.eauth.usda.gov/eauth/b/usda/helpdesk.
Verify your identity
After you have created your eAuth account you’ll need to verify your identity. There are two options to validate your identity:
Option #1 (Recommended) – Verify Online (Self-Service) (Recommended) using the USDA Online Identity Verification Application.
After you have used the “Activate My Account” link in the first USDA eAuthentication email, click the link on the web page, or the link in the subsequent email for Option 1, the Online Self Service Verification Application. This will take you to a webpage where you will be prompted to agree to terms of service, verify your profile data, enter your Social Security Number, and answer five quiz questions to validate your identity.
eAuth Helpful Hint: Identify verification using the self-service process uses credit corporation data. The questions you need to answer will be associated with information held by the credit corporation, so you may be asked about mortgage payments or other banking information. If you do not pass the quiz on the first try you can request a different set of questions, but there are limits on how many requests you can submit, and you will be directed to the second option described below.
- If you encounter issues with the online identity verification process, visit a Local Registration Authority in person to verify your identity. See Option #2 below.
- You cannot complete the online identity verification if you do not have a U.S. home address. If you have a non-U.S. home, you will be notified that you must visit a Local Registration Authority (LRA), for in-person identity verification. (see Option 2)
Option #2: Verify in Person – Visit a Local Registration Authority
Schedule an appointment to visit a Local Registration Authority (LRA) at a USDA Service Center office to validate your identity and upgrade your account. Call ahead to make an appointment to make sure a LRA will be in the office when you plan to visit.
Take the same current government-issued picture ID you used for creating your account in step 1 (e.g. state-issued driver’s license) and present it in person to validate your identity and upgrade your account. Most LRAs are located at a USDA Service Center. Click on Find a Local Registration Authority to locate one closest to you.
Log into NRCS Registry
After you have verified your identity, you will need to set up a Registry account. NRCS uses an online system called NRCS Registry to accept, approve and manage TSP applications and certifications. This system will track a TSPs Licenses, trainings, work experience, and all other items required for certification.
Follow these steps:
- Click the link "NRCS Registry" (Log into NRCS Registry) and enter your eAuth User ID and password.
- Complete the NRCS Registry Profile Tabs
- Contact Information, Licenses/Certifications, Education, Training, Work Experience, Samples of Work, Knowledge*, Planning Tools Proficiency*, References, Familiarity*, and Languages/Specialty Areas. NOTE: *This information in not required to meet the certification criteria, but may be of interest to a potential client.
- Complete/Start the NRCS Registry TSP Application for the following:
- Identify the practices (technical services) and locations you wish to be certified.in.
- Select a Certification Option
- Certification, Education and Experience,
- Provide qualifications that demonstrate you are meeting the criteria within the option you selected. Qualifications may include Education, Work Experience, Training, Licenses/Certifications, and Sample Plans or Designs.
NOTE: ONLY select the Qualifications to Satisfy the Criterion for the certification option you have chosen. There may be more listed, but only select the ones listed in the Select section. Refer to the User Guide listed in Additional Documents for more detailed instructions.
- Review your application and profile information before you begin the steps to sign your certification agreement
- Signing your certification agreement has multiple steps. To review the TSP Certification Agreement terms and condition, click on the TSP Certification Agreement
- Once you sign the certification agreement you must submit your application for NRCS review.
Note: To become a certified TSP eligible to provide technical services, an applicant must meet all certification criteria for the option chosen. The three links above under Step 1 “Make a Plan”, provide access to look up certification options and criteria for practices, conservation activities and areas of technical service. The applicant also must abide by all state, local and tribal laws and must possess the required licenses or certifications outlined in criteria.
For additional information on how to complete your NRCS Registry, visit the User Guides for TSP Certification or review the training videos found under Additional Documents.
Contact the NRCS Registry Help Desk if you have problems accessing the NRCS Registry.
Request an AgLearn Account
Training is a critical component of the TSP certification process. NRCS offers an expansive list of training opportunities for new TSP applicants and certified TSPs. NRCS offers courses through the Agricultural Learning Service (AgLearn) and the USDA Science and Technology Library.
To register for an AgLearn account:
- Obtain a Verified eAuth account
- Log into NRCS Registry and start an application
- Contact your state TSP point of contact to request an AgLearn account
- Complete the required Safeguarding PII Fact Sheet provided by the state TSP coordinator.
- Once you have been notified your AgLearn account has been created, you may log into AgLearn and enroll in courses required for certification.
All TSP applicants seeking TSP certification to provide technical services to eligible NRCS program participants must also complete the TSP Orientation and Conservation Planning Course (Course ID#NRCS-NEDC-000191) and the Introduction to Field Office Technical Guide (Course ID# NRCS-NEDC-000149).
Obtain TSP Certification
Upon submission of your application NRCS has 60 days to review the information provided, verify your credentials and samples of work and make a decision on your application. Upon approval you will be certified for a period of three years and your information will be added to the NRCS Registry Find a TSP look up.
If your application is deferred, you will receive a notice detailing the issues that caused the deferment and the steps needed to address the issues. You will have the option to resubmit the application for review after you address the issues.
Business Registrations for Technical Service Providers
Businesses are defined as private businesses, American Indian tribes, non-profit organizations, and public agencies. A business profile and application must be created and maintained by an Official Business Representative (OBR) or the individual authorized by the business to make decisions on its behalf. The OBR must apply for and maintain a USDA Verified eAuth account, but the OBR does not need to be a certified TSP. In order for the business to apply and become certified, the business must have at least one certified TSP always associated with the business. The OBR must be able to legally sign the Certification Agreement on behalf of the business. Certified businesses must maintain a current certification agreement and are posted on the NRCS Registry Find a TSP look up.
Note: A business entity cannot register for a USDA eAuth account. Only individuals known as the Official Business Representative can register for a Verified eAuth account.
For Official Business Representatives Who Do Not Plan to Work as a TSP:
- Log into NRCS Registry
- Click the New Business Profile Tab to create a business profile
- Follow the business application instructions in the Business/Agency Profile. You can submit the application from the Business/Agency Profile screen by clicking the Sign Agreement button only once.
For Official Business Representatives Who Plan to Work as TSPs:
- Log into NRCS Registry
- Follow the process above to become a TSP first
- Complete the business registration
- Navigate to the TSP Associations sub tab and click Add TSP following the rest of the directions
Note: For detailed directions, visit the User Guide for Business Certification found under "Additional Documents"
Locate a Technical Service Provider
NRCS Registry of Technical Service Providers
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Technical Service Providers
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