7 CFR § 2.17 - Assistant to the Secretary for Rural Development.
(1) Provide leadership and coordination within the executive branch of a Nationwide Rural Development Program utilizing the services of executive branch departments and agencies and the agencies, bureaus, offices, and services of the Department of Agriculture in coordination with rural development programs of State and local governments (7 U.S.C. 2204).
(2) Coordinate activities relative to rural development among agencies reporting to the Assistant to the Secretary for Rural Development and, through appropriate channels, serve as the coordinating official for other departmental agencies having primary responsibilities for specific titles of the Rural Development Act of 1972, and allied legislation.
(3) Administer a national program of economic, social, and environmental research and analysis, statistical programs, and associated service work related to rural people and the communities in which they live including rural industrialization; rural population and manpower; local government finance; income development strategies; housing; social services and utilization; adjustments to changing economic and technical forces; and other related matters.
(7) Advise other Federal agencies of the need for particular Federal programs.
(9) Assist other Federal agencies and national organizations in developing means for extending their services effectively to rural areas.
(10) Assist other Federal agencies in designating pilot projects in rural areas.
(11) Conduct studies to determine how programs of the Department can be brought to bear on the economic development problems of the country and assure that local groups are receiving adequate technical assistance from Federal agencies or from local and State governments in formulating development programs and in carrying out planned development activities.
(12) Assist other Federal agencies in formulating manpower development and training policies.
(13) Related to committee management. Establish and reestablish regional, state, and local advisory committees for activities under his or her authority. This authority may not be re-delegated.
(14) Related to defense and emergency preparedness. Administer responsibilities and functions assigned under the Defense Production Act of 1950, as amended (50 U.S.C. App. 2061 et seq.), and title VI of the Robert T. Stafford Disaster Relief and Emergency Assistance Act (42 U.S.C. 5195 et seq.), concerning rural development credit and financial assistance.
(15) Related to energy.
(i) Provide Department-wide operational support and coordination for loan and grant programs to foster and encourage the production of fuels from agricultural and forestry products or by-products.
(ii) Participate as a Department representative at conferences, meetings and other contacts including liaison with the Department of Energy and other government agencies and departments with respect to implementation of established Department energy policy.
(iii) Serve as Co-Chairperson of the Energy Coordinating Committee of the Department.
(16) Collect, service, and liquidate loans made, insured, or guaranteed by the Rural Utilities Service, the Rural Housing Service, the Rural Business-Cooperative Service, or their predecessor agencies.
(18) With respect to land and facilities under his or her authority, exercise the functions delegated to the Secretary by Executive Order 12580, 3 CFR, 1987 Comp., p. 193, under the following provisions of the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act of 1980 (“the Act”), as amended:
(i) Sections 104(a), (b), and (c)(4) of the Act (42 U.S.C. 9604(a), (b), and (c)(4)), with respect to removal and remedial actions in the event of release or threatened release of a hazardous substance, pollutant, or contaminant into the environment;
(ii) Sections 104(e)-(h) of the Act (42 U.S.C. 9604(e)-(h)), with respect to information gathering and access requests and orders; compliance with Federal health and safety standards and wage and labor standards applicable to covered work; and emergency procurement powers;
(vi) Section 105(f) of the Act (42 U.S.C. 9605(f)), with respect to consideration of the availability of qualified minority firms in awarding contracts, but excluding that portion of section 105(f) pertaining to the annual report to Congress;
(vii) Section 109 of the Act (42 U.S.C. 9609), with respect to the assessment of civil penalties for violations of section 122 of the Act (42 U.S.C. 9622), and the granting of awards to individuals providing information;
(ix) Section 113(k) of the Act (42 U.S.C. 9613(k)), with respect to establishing an administrative record upon which to base the selection of a response action and identifying and notifying potentially responsible parties;
(xi) Sections 117(a) and (c) of the Act (42 U.S.C. 9617(a) and (c)), with respect to public participation in the preparation of any plan for remedial action and explanation of variances from the final remedial action plan for any remedial action or enforcement action, including any settlement or consent decree entered into;
(19) With respect to facilities and activities under his or her authority, to exercise the authority of the Secretary of Agriculture pursuant to section 1-102 related to compliance with applicable pollution control standards and section 1-601 of Executive Order 12088, 3 CFR, 1978 Comp., p. 243, to enter into an inter-agency agreement with the United States Environmental Protection Agency, or an administrative consent order or a consent judgment in an appropriate State, interstate, or local agency, containing a plan and schedule to achieve and maintain compliance with applicable pollution control standards established pursuant to the following:
(i) Solid Waste Disposal Act, as amended by the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act, as further amended by the Hazardous and Solid Waste Amendments, and the Federal Facility Compliance Act (42 U.S.C. 6901 et seq.);
(vii) Federal Insecticide, Fungicide, and Rodenticide Act, as amended (7 U.S.C. 136 et seq.); and
(viii) Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act of 1980, as amended by the Superfund Amendments and Reauthorization Act of 1986 (42 U.S.C. 9601 et seq.).
(20) Related to rural utilities service.
(i) Administer the Rural Electrification Act of 1936, as amended (7 U.S.C. 901 et seq.) except for rural economic development loan and grant programs; (7 U.S.C. 940c and 950aa et seq.): Provided, however, that the Under Secretary may utilize consultants and attorneys for the provision of legal services pursuant to 7 U.S.C. 918, with the concurrence of the General Counsel.
(iii) Designate the chief executive officer of the Rural Telephone Bank.
(A) Section 306 (7 U.S.C. 1926), related to water and waste facilities.
(B) Section 306A (7 U.S.C. 1926a).
(C) Section 306B (7 U.S.C. 1926b).
(D) Section 306C (7 U.S.C. 1926c).
(E) Section 306D (7 U.S.C. 1926d).
(F) Section 306E (7 U.S.C. 1926e).
(H) Section 310A (7 U.S.C. 1931), relating to watershed and resource conservation and development
(I) Section 310B(b) (7 U.S.C. 1932(b)).
(K) Administrative Provisions of subtitle D of the consolidated Farm and Rural Development act relating to rural utility activities.
(L) Section 379B (7 U.S.C. 2008p).
(v) Administer section 8, and those functions with respect to repayment of obligations under section 4 of the Watershed Protection and Flood Prevention Act (16 U.S.C. 1006a, 1004) and administer the Resource Conservation and Development Program to assist in carrying out resource conservation and development projects in rural areas under section 32(e) of the Bankhead-Jones Farm Tenant Act (7 U.S.C. 1011(e)).
(xi) In coordination with the Director, Office of Partnerships and Public Engagement, issue receipts under section 2501A(e) of the Food, Agriculture, Conservation, and Trade Act of 1990 (7 U.S.C. 2279-1(e)).
(xiv) Administer the authority under section 746 of Division A of the Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2018 (Pub. L. 115-141), and any successor provisions in subsequent appropriations acts, to issue waivers to the U.S. iron and steel requirements for the construction, alteration, maintenance, or repair of a public water or wastewater system.
(21) Related to rural business-cooperative.
(A) Section 306(a)(110(A) (7 U.S.C. 1926(a)(11)(A)), relating to grants for business technical assistance and planning.
(D) Section 310B (7 U.S.C. 1932), relating to various Rural Development programs, except for subsection (b) of that section.
(F) Administrative Provisions of subtitle D of the Consolidated Farm and Rural Development Act relating to rural business-cooperative activities.
(G) Section 378 (7 U.S.C. 2008m) relating to the National Rural Development Partnership;
(J) Section 379G (7 U.S.C. 2008u) relating to Health Care Services.
(K) Section 382A et seq. (7 U.S.C. 2009aa et seq.) relating to the Delta Regional Authority.
(L) Section 383A et seq. (7 U.S.C. 2009bb et seq.) relating to the Northern Great Plains Regional Authority.
(xi) Administer the assets of the Alternative Agricultural Research and Commercialization Corporation and the funds in the Alternative Agricultural Research and Commercialization Fund in accordance with section 6201 of the Farm Security and Rural Investment Act of 2000 (note to 7 U.S.C. 5901 (repealed)).
(xiii) Carry out the responsibilities of the Secretary of Agriculture relating to the marketing aspects of cooperatives, including economic research and analysis, the application of economic research findings, technical assistance to existing and developing cooperatives, education on cooperatives, and statistical information pertaining to cooperatives as authorized by the Agricultural Marketing Act of 1946 (7 U.S.C. 1621-1627).
(xiv) Work with institutions and international organizations throughout the world on subjects related to the development and operation of agricultural cooperatives. Such work may be carried out by:
(A) Exchanging materials and results with such institutions or organizations;
(B) Engaging in joint or coordinated activities; or
(C) Stationing representatives at such institutions or organizations in foreign countries (7 U.S.C. 3291).
(xv) Administer in rural areas the process of designation, provision of monitoring and oversight, and provision of technical assistance for Empowerment Zones and Enterprise Communities pursuant to section 13301 of Public Law 103-66, Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act of 1993 (26 U.S.C. 1391 et seq.)
(xvi) Work with Federal agencies in encouraging the creation of local rural community development organizations. Within a State, assist other Federal agencies in developing means for extending their services effectively to rural areas and in designating pilot projects in rural areas (7 U.S.C. 2204).
(xvii) Conduct assessments to determine how programs of the Department can be brought to bear on the economic development problems of a State or local area and assure that local groups are receiving adequate and effective technical assistance from Federal agencies or from local and State governments in formulating development programs and in carrying out planned development activities (7 U.S.C. 2204b).
(xviii) Develop a process through which State, sub-state and local rural development needs, goals, objectives, plans, and recommendations can be received and assessed on a continuing basis (7 U.S.C. 2204b).
(xix) Prepare local or area-wide rural development strategies based on the needs, goals, objectives, plans and recommendations of local communities, sub-state areas and States (7 U.S.C. 2204b).
(xx) Develop a system of outreach in the State or local area to promote rural development and provide for the publication and dissemination of information, through multi-media methods, relating to rural development. Advise local rural development organizations of availability of Federal programs and the type of assistance available, and assist in making contact with Federal program (7 U.S.C. 2204; 7 U.S.C. 2204b).
(xxiii) Administer the renewable energy programs authorized in sections 9003, 9004, 9005, 9007, and 9009 of the Farm Security and Rural Investment Act of 2002 (7 U.S.C. 8103, 8104, 8105, 8107, and 8109).
(xxv) In coordination with the Director, Office of Partnerships and Public Engagement, issue receipts under section 2501A(e) of the Food, Agriculture, Conservation, and Trade Act of 1990 (7 U.S.C. 2279-1(e)).
(xxvi) Administer the Healthy Food Financing Initiative under section 243 of the Department of Agriculture Reorganization Act of 1994 (7 U.S.C. 6953).
(22) Related to rural housing.
(A) Section 306 (7 U.S.C. 1926), except with respect to financing for water and waste disposal facilities; or loans for rural electrification or telephone systems or facilities other than hydroelectric generating and related distribution systems and supplemental and supporting structures if they are eligible for Rural Utilities Service financing; and financing for grazing facilities and irrigation and drainage facilities; and subsection 306(a)(11).
(C) Administrative Provisions of subtitle D of the Consolidated Farm and Rural Development Act relating to rural housing activities.
(v) Exercise all authority and discretion vested in the Secretary by section 510(d) of the Housing Act of 1949, as amended by section 1045 of the Stewart B. McKinney Homeless Assistance Amendments Act of 1988, Pub. L. 100-628 (42 U.S.C. 1480(d)), including the following:
(A) Determine, with the concurrence of the General Counsel, which actions are to be referred to the Department of Justice for the conduct of litigation, and refer such actions to the Department of Justice through the General Counsel;
(B) Determine, with the concurrence of the General Counsel, which actions are to be referred to the General Counsel for the conduct of litigation and refer such actions; and
(C) Enter into contracts with private sector attorneys for the conduct of litigation, with the concurrence of the General Counsel, after determining that the attorneys will provide competent and cost effective representation for the Rural Housing Service and representation by the attorney will either accelerate the process by which a family or person eligible for assistance under section 502 of the Housing Act of 1949 will be able to purchase and occupy the housing involved, or preserve the quality of the housing involved.
(viii) In coordination with the Director, Office of Partnerships and Public Engagement, issue receipts under section 2501A(e) of the Food, Agriculture, Conservation, and Trade Act of 1990 (7 U.S.C. 2279-1(e)).
(23) Related to hazardous materials management.
(i) Serve on the USDA Hazardous Materials Policy Council.
(ii) Recommend actions and policies that enable USDA agencies under his or her authority to comply with the intent, purposes, and standards of environmental laws for pollution prevention, control, and abatement.
(iii) Consult with the United States Environmental Protection Agency and other appropriate Federal agencies in developing pollution prevention, control, and abatement policies and programs relating to agencies under his or her authority.
(iv) Recommend actions and policies of the loan and grant programs under his or her authority concerning compliance with the Asset Conservation, Lender Liability, and Deposit Insurance Protection Act of 1996, Subtitle E of Public Law No. 104-208.
(26) Related cooperative agreements. Enter into cooperative agreements with other Federal agencies, State and local governments, and any other organizations or individuals to improve the coordination and effectiveness of Federal programs, services, and actions affecting rural areas, including the establishment and financing of interagency groups, as long as the objectives of the agreement will serve the mutual interest of the parties in rural development activities (7 U.S.C. 2204b(b)(4)).
(27) Exercise the authority in section 10101 of the Disaster Relief and Recovery Supplemental Appropriations Act, 2008, Public Law 110-329, div. B., regarding the Rural Development Disaster Assistance Fund.
(30) Related to biomass research and development.
Administer section 9008 of FSRIA (7 U.S.C. 8108) with respect to biomass research and development, including administration of the Biomass Research and Development Board and Biomass Research and Development Technical Advisory Committee, and submission of reports to Congress, except for the authority delegated to the Under Secretary for REE in § 2.21(a)(1)(cci) to carry out the Biomass Research and Development Initiative; consult and coordinate, as appropriate, with the Under Secretary for REE and other mission areas within the Department as deemed necessary in carrying out the authorities delegated herein; and serve as the designated point of contact referenced in 7 U.S.C. 8108 for the Department, except for purposes of administering the Biomass Research and Development Initiative as provided in § 2.21(a)(1)(cci).
(31) Carry out prize competition authorities in section 24 of the Stevenson-Wydler Technology Innovation Act of 1980 (15 U.S.C. 3719) related to functions otherwise delegated to the Assistant to the Secretary for Rural Development, except for authorities delegated to the Chief Financial Officer in § 2.28(a)(29) and authorities reserved to the Secretary in paragraph (b)(2) of this section.
(b) The following authority is reserved to the Secretary of Agriculture:
(1) Related to rural business-cooperative. Submission to the Congress of the report required pursuant to section 1469 of Pub. L. No. 101-624.
(2) Approval of prize competitions that may result in the award of more than $1,000,000 in cash prizes under section 24(m)(4)(B) of the Stevenson-Wydler Technology Innovation Act of 1980 (15 U.S.C. 3719(m)(4)(B)).