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Duties of NPL State Liaisons

The primary role of the national program leader (NPL) State Liaisons is to create an informed partnership dialogue to better represent the National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA) and serve as a resource and information conduit for the Land-Grant University (LGU) system. Liaisons gather information from their assigned state(s) about issues and concerns that may require institute-level attention and respond to or direct inquiries about institute administrative and program oversight issues to the appropriate person(s). (Note: Liaisons will not serve as advocates for their unit, program, or discipline, nor will they be expected to serve as experts on all institute issues.) The liaison role will be handled by regular telephone conference calls, participation in meetings, site visits, and other venues that serve the role of NIFA and institutions.

Liaison responsibilities will be exercised as needed and travel to campus could be typically less than 1 week per year. Exceptions are those states with multiple land-grant colleges and universities that will require more time or an alternative structure for contacts. These situations will be discussed with NIFA Deputy Administrator Regional Liaisons in order to plan appropriately for the regional needs. Where travel is not possible, NPL State Liaisons will use other venues to learn about the institution(s) and share pertinent information about NIFA.

Specific NPL State Liaison duties include:

  • Meet with your NIFA NPL State Liaison assignment partner to gain an understanding of each other's expertise, perspectives, and experience.

  • Send an introductory letter providing background information on the NPLs (including email and phone contact information) to key personnel at that state�s land-grant institutions.

  • Review the state Web site(s), including the organizational chart(s) for the LGU institution(s), state strategic plans and advisory committee reports, etc., and reports of NIFA site reviews at the institution(s) to develop a clear understanding of the reporting and structural relationships for the academic programs, the agricultural experiment stations, and the cooperative extension system. Important information to gather includes:

    • Who controls budget?
    • Who reports to whom?
    • How visible are these structures in the entire university or state system?
    • What are the categories and proportions of different sources of funding?
    • How is overhead controlled on the campus?
    • What are motivators for faculty partnerships with NIFA?
  • Serve as reviewers of the integrated (AES and CES) annual plan of work and annual report for the state and recommend appropriate NIFA and institutional action. Liaisons will also develop a broad understanding of the profile of the state's research, education, and extension portfolios to be an agency resource.

  • Meet at least twice per year (summer and winter), or as needed, with appropriate NIFA Deputy Administrator Regional Liaisons and with regional executive directors of experiment stations and Cooperative Extension to discuss regional issues and to share perspectives that enhance the partnership between NIFA and partner institutions.

  • Serve in a rotational cycle (e.g., 3-5 year rotation) that will best utilize the knowledge gained about the institution.

  • Identify partnership opportunities within NIFA and other federal agencies that will strengthen programs or take advantage of competitive grants and other opportunities.

Positive Outcomes to University Partners will include:

  • Establishment of a trusted point of contact and support for doing business with NIFA.

  • More rapid, informed, and responsive reviews of Plans of Work.

  • Enhanced, informed dialogue regarding the impact of NIFA policies on the partnership.

  • More effective identification of emerging state issues that may need the attention of the entire system.

  • More appropriate examples of current program impacts for reporting to Congress and other stakeholders.

Positive Outcomes of the NPL State Liaisons for NIFA will include:

  • Enhanced effectiveness of NPLs, and the institute, due to their increased knowledge base regarding the partnership.

  • Information exchange between NIFA and the partner institutions, resulting in more informed dialogue within NIFA, enhanced understanding of each partner�s programs and goals, and the context in which each partner operates.

  • Broader involvement of states in institute programs.

  • Increasing trust between the institute and the partnership.

  • Increasing understanding by the institute of the multi-faceted issues and concerns of the states.

  • Improved customer service, as reflected in customer service surveys.

  • Increased participation of under-represented groups in institute programs.

  • Increased visibility of NIFA programs to the states and the public.

  • Improved accountability and responsiveness to the administration and Congress.