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Title 7Subtitle BChapter VISubchapter FPart 652 → Subpart B


Title 7: Agriculture
PART 652—TECHNICAL SERVICE PROVIDER ASSISTANCE


Subpart B—Certification


Contents
§652.21   Certification criteria and requirements.
§652.22   Certification process for individuals.
§652.23   Certification process for private-sector entities.
§652.24   Certification process for public agencies.
§652.25   Alternative application process for individual certification.
§652.26   Certification renewal.

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§652.21   Certification criteria and requirements.

(a) To qualify for certification an individual must:

(1) Have the required technical training, education, and experience to perform the level of technical assistance for which certification is sought;

(2) Meet any applicable professional or business licensing or similar qualification standards established by State or Tribal law;

(3) Demonstrate, through documentation of training or experience, familiarity with NRCS guidelines, criteria, standards, and specifications as set forth in the applicable NRCS manuals, handbooks, field office technical guides, and supplements thereto for the planning and applying of specific conservation practices and management systems for which certification is sought; and

(4) Not be decertified in any State under subpart C of this part at the time of application for certification.

(b) To qualify for certification an entity or public agency must be authorized to provide such services in the jurisdiction and have a certified individual providing, in accordance with this part, technical services on its behalf.

(c) A technical service provider, as part of the certification by NRCS, must enter into a Certification Agreement with NRCS specifying the terms and conditions of the certification, including adherence to the requirements of this part, and acknowledging that failure to meet these requirements may result in ineligibility to receive payments from the Department, either directly or through the participant, for the technical services provided or may result in decertification.

(d) NRCS will certify Technical Service Providers for a time period specified by NRCS in the Certification Agreement, not to exceed 3 years. Decertification and Renewal of Certification is administered in accordance with §652.26.

(e) NRCS may, pursuant to 31 U.S.C. 9701, establish and collect fees for the certification of technical service providers.

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§652.22   Certification process for individuals.

(a) In order to be considered for certification as a technical service provider, an individual must:

(1) Submit an Application for Certification to NRCS in accordance with this section;

(2) Request certification through a recommending organization pursuant to §652.25; or

(3) Request certification through an application submitted by a private-sector entity or public agency pursuant to §652.23 or §652.24, as appropriate.

(b) The application must contain the documentation demonstrating that the individual meets all requirements of paragraph (a) of §652.21.

(c) NRCS will, within 60 days of receipt of an application, make a determination on the application submitted by an individual under paragraph (a)(1) of this section and in accordance with paragraph (a) of §652.21. If all requirements are met, NRCS will:

(1) Enter into a Certification Agreement and certify the applicant as qualified to provide technical services for a specific practice, category, or categories of technical service;

(2) Place the applicant on the list of approved technical service providers when certified; and

(3) Make available to the public the list of approved technical service providers by practice or category of technical services.

(d) NRCS may decertify an individual in accordance with the decertification process set forth in subpart C of this part.

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§652.23   Certification process for private-sector entities.

(a) A private sector entity that applies for certification must identify, and provide supporting documentation, that it has the requisite professional and business licensure within the jurisdiction for which it seek certification, and that it employs at least one individual, authorized to act on its behalf that:

(1) Has received certification on an individual basis in accordance with §652.22; or

(2) Seeks certification on an individual basis as part of the private-sector entity's certification and ensures that the requirements set forth in §652.21(a) are contained within the private-sector entity's application to support such certification.

(b) NRCS will determine pursuant to §652.22 whether the individual(s) identified in the private-sector entity's application meets the certification standards set forth in §652.21 for the specific services the entity wishes to provide.

(c) NRCS will, within 60 days of receipt of an application, make a determination on the application submitted by an entity. If NRCS determines that all requirements for the private-sector entity and the identified individual(s) are met, NRCS will complete the actions described in paragraphs (c)(1) through (c)(3) of §652.22.

(d) The Certification Agreement entered into with the private-sector entity shall:

(1) Identify the certified individuals who are authorized to perform technical services on behalf of and under the auspices of the entity's certification;

(2) Require that the entity has, at all times, an individual who is a certified technical service provider authorized to act on the entity's behalf;

(3) Require that the entity promptly provide an amended Certification Agreement to NRCS for approval when the list of certified individuals performing technical services under its auspices changes;

(4) Require that responsibility for any work performed by non-certified individuals be assumed by a certified individual who is authorized to act on the entity's behalf; and

(5) Require that the entity be legally responsible for the work performed by any individual working under the auspices of its certification.

(e) NRCS may, in accordance with the decertification process set forth in this part, decertify the private sector entity, the certified individual(s) acting under the auspices of its certification, or both the private sector entity and the certified individual(s) acting under the auspices of its certification.

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§652.24   Certification process for public agencies.

(a) A public agency that applies for certification must identify, and provide supporting documentation, that it has the authority within the jurisdiction within which it seeks to provide technical services and an individual or individuals authorized to act on its behalf:

(1) Has been certified as an individual in accordance with §652.22; or

(2) Seeks certification as an individual as part of the public agency's certification and sufficient information as set forth in §652.21(a) is contained within the public agency's application to support such certification.

(b) NRCS shall determine whether the individual identified in the public agency's application meets the certification standards set forth in §652.22.

(c) NRCS will, within 60 days of receipt of an application, make a determination on the application submitted by a public agency. If NRCS determines that all requirements for the public agency and the identified individual(s) are met, NRCS will perform the actions described in paragraph (c)(1) through (c)(3) of §652.22. The Certification Agreement entered into with the public agency shall:

(1) Identify the certified individuals that are authorized to perform technical services on behalf of and under the auspices of the public agency's certification;

(2) Require that the public agency have, at all times, an individual that is a certified technical service provider and is an authorized official of the public agency;

(3) Require that the public agency promptly provide to NRCS for NRCS approval an amended Certification Agreement when the list of certified individuals performing technical services under its auspices changes;

(4) Require that responsibility for any work performed by non-certified individuals be assumed by a certified individual that is authorized to act on the public agency's behalf; and

(5) Require that the public agency be legally responsible for the work performed by any individual working under the auspices of its certification.

(d) NRCS may, in accordance with the decertification process set forth in subpart C of this part, decertify the public agency, the certified individual(s) acting under its auspices, or both the public agency and the certified individual(s) acting under its auspices.

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§652.25   Alternative application process for individual certification.

(a) NRCS may enter into an agreement, including a memorandum of understanding or other appropriate instrument, with a recommending organization that NRCS determines has an adequate accreditation program in place to train, test, and evaluate candidates for competency in a particular area or areas of technical service delivery and whose accreditation program NRCS determines meets the certification criteria as set forth for the technical services to be provided.

(b) Recommending organizations will, pursuant to an agreement entered into with NRCS:

(1) Train, test, and evaluate candidates for competency in the area of technical service delivery;

(2) Recommend to NRCS individuals who it determines meet the NRCS certification requirements of §652.21(a) for providing specific practices or categories of technical services;

(3) Inform the recommended individuals that they must meet the requirements of this part, including entering into a Certification Agreement with NRCS, in order to provide technical services under this part;

(4) Reassess individuals that request renewal of their certification pursuant to §652.26 through the recommendation of the organization; and

(5) Notify NRCS of any concerns or problems that may affect the organization's recommendation concerning the individual's certification, recertification, certification renewal, or technical service delivery.

(c) Pursuant to an agreement with NRCS, a recommending organization may provide to the appropriate NRCS official a current list of individuals identified by the recommending organization as meeting NRCS criteria as set forth in §652.21(a) for specific practices or categories of technical service and recommend that the NRCS official certify these individuals as technical service providers in accordance with this part.

(d) NRCS will, within 60 days, make a determination on the recommendation for certification issued by the recommending organization. If NRCS determines that all requirements for certification are met by the recommended individual(s), NRCS will perform the actions described in paragraphs (c)(1) through (c)(3) of §652.22.

(e) NRCS may terminate an agreement with a recommending organization if concerns or problems with its accreditation program, its recommendations for certification, or other requirements under the agreement arise.

(f) NRCS may also enter into an agreement with a recommending organization that NRCS determines has an adequate accreditation program to certify individuals as technical service providers for specific practices or categories of technical service in accordance with this part.

(g) After submission of an Application for Certification under §652.21, NRCS may certify an individual that has an appropriate specialty certification, including a sustainability specialty certification, as qualified to provide technical services for a specific practice, category, or categories of technical service.

(h) NRCS will identify, on its website, which recommending organizations or specialty certifications are recognized by NRCS as meeting NRCS quality criteria for certification of individuals under this part.

[75 FR 6845, Feb. 12, 2010, as amended at 84 FR 19703, May 6, 2019]

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§652.26   Certification renewal.

(a) NRCS certifications are in effect for a time period specified by NRCS in the Certification Agreement, not to exceed 3 years and automatically expire unless they are renewed for an additional time period in accordance with this section.

(b) A technical service provider may request renewal of an NRCS certification by:

(1) Submitting a complete certification renewal application to NRCS or through a private sector entity, a public agency, or a recommending organization to NRCS at least 60 days prior to expiration of the current certification;

(2) Providing verification on the renewal form that the requirements of this part are met; and

(3) Agreeing to abide by the terms and conditions of a Certification Agreement.

(c) All certification renewals are in effect for a time period specified by NRCS in the Certification Agreement, not to exceed three years and before expiration, may be renewed for subsequent time period in accordance with this section.

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