USDA ran like Amazon, is it possible? That is the exact vision of Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue. It is a common sense and refreshing approach to running a government agency. “I’d like USDA to have the power of Amazon,” says Secretary Perdue speaking in Illinois during his ‘Back to our roots’ R.V. tour.
The Trump administration is about getting back to business including the USDA. As a farmer, Perdue knows firsthand how essential it is to let farmers and ranchers do what they do best — farm and ranch rather than drowning in forms and red tape.
So why aspire to be the Amazon of government agencies? Why not? Amazon is growing rapidly from a company that only sold books in 1995 to one of the largest online retailers globally today. The secret to Amazon’s success is based on sound, economic and data-driven decisions. These are the same principles that governed Perdue in business ownership and as governor of Georgia.
Here are three ways Perdue can model USDA after Amazon.
1. Strong leaders. Amazon’s achievements start with Jeff Bezos, chief executive officer, and his management team. Strong leaders assemble a good team and empower them to do outstanding work. Only a few months on the job and Perdue is making it a point to listen to USDA employees in Washington, D.C., and more importantly on the state level. He wants to understand their strengths and frustrations to build a better agency.
2. Customer first. The USDA farm program is cumbersome. The amount of paperwork leaves farmers and no doubt the agency’s employees frustrated. Perdue says it is time to put the people before the paperwork by streamlining the process.
3. Online signup. From a book store to an online company, innovation is the heart of Amazon’s success. While Perdue is not looking to invent anything new at USDA, he wants to give the agency the tools to do its job better. “Congress was shy about I.T. enhancement,” says Perdue.
Perdue and his team want to cut back the paperwork from eliminating unnecessary paperwork to an online process for farm program sign-up and participation. For those not fond of online registration, no fear, it would not be mandatory but a tool for the farmer and agency. Perdue recognizes the first step starts with accessible, strong broadband for all of rural America. Like families in a rural setting, a failed internet connection is inhibiting many county agencies to serve its customers.
As an observer, it may seem that Perdue is doing a lot of talking right now. However, watching him interact one-on-one with people, you can see he is actually listening first before taking action.