Rural Utilities Service

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The Rural Utilities Service (RUS) is an agency of the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), one of the federal executive departments of the United States government charged with providing public utilities (electricity, telephone, water, sewer) to rural areas in the United States via public-private partnerships. The agency's acronym is an allusion to the Latin word rus ("countryside"), the etymological source of the word rural[citation needed].


History, structure, and programs

The RUS is one of three agencies (the other two are Rural Business-Cooperative Service and the Rural Housing Service) that are part of the USDA's Rural Development Bureau. The three agencies are headed by administrators, who each report to the Under Secretary of Agriculture for Rural Development. (The RUS administrator is the only one of the three who is Senate-confirmed.)

The RUS administrator makes the primary policy and program decisions for the agency and is assisted by a borrower and program support staff that includes a financial services staff, an administrative liaison staff, and a program accounting services division. Because of the financial nature of the agency's work, the administrator and associated staff work closely with two other agencies that are not part of the USDA, the Federal Financing Bank (FFB) and the Rural Telephone Bank (RTB). These banks provide the funds for many of the loan programs administered by the RUS.

The program functions of the RUS are divided into three operating units: water and waste, electric, and telecommunications, each led by an assistant administrator. The administrator and staff concentrate on the financial details of individual RUS projects, and these three operating units provide the engineering and technical personnel to plan and execute projects.


RUS traces its roots to the Rural Electrification Administration (REA), one of the New Deal agencies created under President Franklin Delano Roosevelt. The REA was created on May 11, 1935, with the primary goal of promoting rural electrification.[1] In the 1930s, the U.S. lagged significantly behind Europe in providing electricity to rural areas due to the unwillingness of power companies to serve farmsteads.

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