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RWC Questions & Answers February 14, 2008

 

Plan of Work/Annual Report

1)

How do you want us to report multistate and integrated activities? For the 2007 Annual Report, will we report on multistate and integrated? You mentioned a spreadsheet that states should fill out with fiscal data related to multistate and integrated activities. Does this mean that we do not need to include any narrative explanation of our multi-state and integrated activities? To whom do we submit the completed form for 2007? Is it also due April 1, 2008?

Response: The multistate and integrated section of the 2007 Annual Report will be reported using the same Excel spreadsheet as in the past year. The spreadsheet can be found on the Plan of Work information website at http://www.nifa.usda.gov/business/reporting/pdf/rept_revised.xls. A brief narrative for each activity is still required.  A short paragraph describing the activity will suffice.  It is due by April 1, 2008, to Brenda Barnett of the Office of Extramural Programs.  Her email address is bbarnett@nifa.usda.gov.  Alternately, you can send it to Bart Hewitt at bhewitt@nifa.usda.gov, and it will be forwarded to Brenda Barnett.

2)

Must states have an 'audit trail' for all information and data submitted in the Annual Report, with particular reference to 'Stakeholder Input', fiscal data, and program accomplishments?

Response: It is always a good idea to be able to prove what you entered in your Plan of Work or Annual Report.  We may be audited again in the future and we don’t know what the auditors may require when they do an audit.

3)

Coming from a small state, our outcomes may be for relatively smaller numbers like 20 farmers, or youth, etc., are those outcomes still of value to you?

Response:  Outcomes are always relative. Smaller states tend to have smaller numbers.  And that is OK. All outcomes are important to us. Occasionally we get outcome requests from Congress or our Budget Office for outcomes for specific states.

4)

What is the preferred method to report outputs?  Would it be satisfactory to report number of workshops, conferences, etc. per planned program verses for example reporting the number of SOUL workshops and number of Take-Charge workshops, etc.?

Response: This really depends on what is important to your state. If it is important to you to delineate between the types of workshops, then it is important to your Plan and Report.

5)

For publications will we continue to give aggregate numbers or will we be required to provide full citations? Also, for some states, because our faculty have joint appointments it is difficult to separate research pubs from Extension. Any thoughts on this? 

Response: The Annual Report does not currently ask you to provide full citations, only aggregate numbers. The Annual Report also allows you to both enter numbers as separate research and extension publications, or enter them in the total column when they are indistinguishable from each other.

6)

Is there a place in the on-line Annual Reporting, reporting system where we can make overall/general comments? For instance in standardized Planned Program Outputs, if we don't have a mechanism in place to differentiate our Contacts as Adult vs. Youth, where should OR should we denote that? 

Response: The place in the reporting system for overall/general comments is in the Overview text section of the Annual Report. When explaining sections such as outputs, you can note this in the section where you explain external factors that affected outcomes.

7)

Did I understand that we can edit last year's plan or do we input changes only for the 09-14 POW?

Response: You cannot edit last year’s plan. You can, however, edit your numbers for all future years in the 2009 – 2013 Plan of Work update. For example, the number entered for 2009 as part of last year’s Plan may be edited in this year’s Plan.

8)

What is the definition of a "Peer Reviewed Publication"? How will this information be used by USDA?

Response: Peer review is the evaluation of creative work or performance by other people in the same field in order to maintain or enhance the quality of the work or performance in that field.  It is based on the concept that a larger and more diverse group of people will usually find more weaknesses and errors in a work or performance and will be able to make a more impartial evaluation of it than will just the person or group responsible for creating the work or performance. In the case of peer reviewed journals, which are usually academic and scientific periodicals, peer review generally refers to the evaluation of articles prior to publication.

9)

About reporting indirect contact numbers for planned programs under outputs. We have decided to be conservative when figuring this number but suspect states will be coming up with this number in various ways. Do you have guidelines? Are you looking for the number of unique contacts or for the number of contacts made? How are you going to use this information?

Response: States vary on how they report indirect contacts. These are numbers which show how many contacts are made through the media, websites, newsletters, and the like.  These are usually estimated numbers based on the circulation of the media, hits on a website page, etc.  These can be valuable numbers for a state when showing how many contacts are made a year on these indirect activities. These are not to be used to show how many individuals are participating in a program. Admittedly, NIFA finds it difficult to use this data since it is open to misinterpretation. However, when NIFA set up the Plan of Work and Annual Report software we were asked by states to include the option to include indirect contacts data as it is very important for many states to get credit for massive media campaigns.

10)

Your reference (in the first presentation) to an ability in the future to "enter outcomes after a grant is completed" implies that the outcomes reported in a single annual report may not be directly  linked to accomplishments reported in the same year.  Is that the case?

Response:  Yes, that is the case.  However, we really have a need to know if formula grant dollars spent in the past have had an impact even if the impact does come to fruition until many years from termination.  When research has a great impact, it is usually not until many years have past since the research grant was terminated.  Impacts from this research can have a great affect on future budget requests, and is thus important.

11)

In reporting, do the report financials you ask for include federal dollars ONLY, or federal and match dollars.

Response:  They include federal formula grant dollars, as well as matching dollars, and other dollars.  AREERA does ask “The manner in which research and extension, including research extension activities funded other than through formula funds, will cooperate to address the critical issues in the State, including the activities to be carried out separately, the activities to be carried out sequentially, and the activities to be carried out jointly.”

How NIFA Uses Your Reporting

1)

Your example of an agency receiving reduced funding due to poor OMB evaluations (PART) and the fact that NIFA has done "very well" on these evaluations makes one wonder why OMB continues to attack the formula funded model under which these good evaluations have been achieved.  Comments?

Response: Competitive funding for research a priority for the Bush administration and the Clinton administration before it.  This is how they believe research should be funded.  In my position, I work to defend these funds, regardless of the funding mechanism.  The information you provide in your reports is what we use to defend our funds in our budget requests and in the assessments I have described.

General Questions

1)

What is the status of the policy dialogue of coordinating USDA-NIFA OneSolution CRIS and POW reporting with the NSF proposal to have a one web portal reporting of research?

Response: The National Science Foundation (NSF) and the National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA) are partnering on Research.gov.  This work is part of the Office of Management and Budget’s (OMB) Grants Line of Business.  Research.gov is taking a phased approach to offer services that align with the needs of its community stakeholders and federal agency partners.  NSF solicited input in the Federal Register on November 9, 2007 on the format of the Research Performance Progress Report (RPPR) for the Grants.gov Executive Board.  No comments on how this information would be collected were solicited and no decisions have been made in regards how this information would be reported.

2)

Where can we go to print out your power point presentation today?

Response: The recorded web conference and the PowerPoint can be found at www.nifa.usda.gov/rwc.

3)

For the future conferences (each even month), are we automatically signed up, or do we have to sign up for each one?

Response: We ask you to register for each conference to ensure that we reserve an adequate number of slots in the web-conferencing software. However, you do not need to re-subscribe to the Lyris conference listserver.