This week marks one year since the World Health Organization declared COVID-19 a pandemic, which has impacted the lives of every American. Even in the midst of the pandemic, RMA has accomplished a tremendous amount for America’s farmers and ranchers. Today, I will highlight one major accomplishment – the Program Performance Assessment, or PPA.

We are a small agency, which I think is a good thing. I’ve always prized the close-knit atmosphere and camaraderie we enjoy. But we also have a big workload, overseeing a national multi-billion-dollar program. Given that dynamic, we always look to improve processes and work efficiently. It is more than satisfying when we find solutions.

For many years, we’ve sought to make the large claims process run smoother. Underwriting issues account for most of the errors during large claims, which certainly cause headaches for policy holders, insurance providers, and RMA. So, in late 2018, we began a major review to make recommendations and improvements to the large claims process. The result of that review, and input from employees across RMA, is a new process we call PPA. We will begin to implement it in the next few months.

PPA incorporates elements of the previous large claims process, underwriting scorecards, and monitoring activities. RMA Regional Offices will participate in reviewing files of policies to ensure that they are underwritten correctly and better address challenges we’ve faced in the past.

RMA will also work with our stakeholders to review policy performance, measuring things such as participation, coverage levels, and losses. From this data, we will determine further improvements we can make. The results of the reviews will be scored to track and trend policy, procedure, regional issues, and performance of insurance providers.

One of the leaders in this initiative, Ben Marcy, Special Assistant to the Deputy Administrator, pointed out specifics of how PPA allows us to better serve our customers.

“One thing I find most exciting is it removes the rule that we can only review claims in excess of $500K for large claims. In many areas of the country, this limits the producers and crops available for RMA to review,” he explains. “With PPA we can look at all crops RMA insures. This will both broaden our net of review and give our staff the opportunity to work with stakeholders on the crops they cover.”

PPA has gone through roughly two years of review. There were process shadows completed in three regional offices, 89 interviews from office staff, and 10 client working sessions to help target areas for process improvement. RMA completed this task on schedule.

I think we have a lot to be proud of in developing PPA. The process has a specific focus on collaboration, which facilitates discussion across all of RMA’s divisions. PPA is a much better fit for our agency, and we now have some very helpful tools to review the program.

I want to recognize our RMA teammates in our Regional Offices who have gone through a very rigorous training schedule as part of this new process. The training plan included over 100 hours of videos and quizzes to help build knowledge with an examination at the end. This training material has been great for new employees, especially when spinning up a major new project in the middle of the pandemic.

As PPA rolls out in the next couple of months, I’m confident that all the prep work and training that we put in will pay off. The rubber should start hitting the road in early summer with preliminary results likely this coming fall.

Thank you again to Insurance Services and our amazing Regional Office teams. Keep up the great work!

– Richard