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USDA Rural Development Simplifies Application Process
South Dakota Ag Connection - 02/22/2018

USDA's Rural Development announced the latest innovation in the simplified application process for affordable rural water and waste infrastructure improvements.

Applicants for loans and grants in USDA's Water and Environmental Program (WEP) are now able to submit preliminary engineering reports electronically. A new software tool, known as e-PER, is built around a multiagency format that uses a series of automated features, such as population projections and a life cycle cost analysis, that greatly reduce the amount of time required to submit applications. Prior to the implementation of this new tool, customers had to do cumbersome manual calculations, such as those for population projections of a service area. The e-PER tool makes these projections automatically based on industry standard methods and the latest Census Bureau data. This modernization will standardize the level of engineering information needed and will save the customers time and money. It also performs automated life cycle cost analysis using the latest real interest rates from the Office of Management and Budget.

The e-PER tool analyzes various cost alternatives, such as building a new system versus rehabilitating one, and provides customers a recommended option based on the lowest cost. It also allows users to upload various types of files -- jpeg, PDF, Excel, Word -- to accommodate multi-agency and state requirements.

Collectively, these enhancements result in a quicker review of applications, a faster response time for funding decisions, and allow for applications to be submitted to various partner agencies.

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Byron Seeds
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