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Portfolio Assessment

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Portfolio Assessment

Pages with this graphic describe the NIFA budget-performance cycle. Navigating through this cycle can be accomplished by following the links in the text or by clicking on the various components of the graphic above.

NIFA is committed to assessing the results of its programs, program leadership, and funded activities. NIFA programs cover a very broad spectrum, ranging from fundamental research on genomics to youth at risk extension programs to education grants that build the agricultural workforce. The agency also has a large number of legal authorities and appropriation lines for these programs, many of which support multiple agency strategic goals. Therefore, NIFA recently created portfolios of programs for planning and assessment at a level of manageable scope and meaningful size.

NIFA defines a portfolio as a set of continuing, NIFA-funded activities broadly focused on a current and/or emerging issue of societal importance that serves as the foundation for agency planning and assessment. The current portfolios, their reports, and scores are listed below. The activities funded within a portfolio may be supported by multiple programs. Likewise, many NIFA programs span multiple portfolios. See portfolio structure and linkages for more detail on how portfolios form the connection between programs and the goals and objectives of the agency.

Portfolios are self-assessed annually by National Program Leaders (NPLs) associated with the portfolio and every five years by external, expert panels against a scorecard based on OMB's Research and Development Investment Criteria of relevance, quality, and performance (for more information, see OMB Assessment. The portfolio review process was initiated in 2004 and is still a maturing process within the agency. Assessments are made based on information gathered into a portfolio report, which documents the portfolio and its inputs, activities, outputs, and outcomes. Logic models are included to demonstrate the strategic thinking and expected results from the portfolio and its components.

NIFA is absolutely dependent on its partners for information about outputs and outcomes. NIFA does not do research, education, and extension itself - it funds it through grants to universities, other organizations, and individuals. Therefore, reports by these grant recipients on the results of their work using NIFA funds is the key source of information about outputs and outcomes. NIFA has been revising its reporting requirements, processes, and guidance (see the One Solution Initiative) to improve its ability to gather quality information from its grantees, particularly regarding outcomes.

The table below lists NIFA's current portfolios and their associated reports. The portfolio reports are the initial reports prepared for each portfolio at its inception. The external panel reports are the reports written by these panels when they assessed the portfolio. The self-assessment reports are the most recent reports written by the internal portfolio teams documenting recent results and progress on external panel recommendations. Note that, as documented in the self-assessment reports, some portfolios have been reconfigured somewhat since last reviewed by an external panel.

The panel list shows a list of external panelists that have assessed NIFA's portfolios.

For more information and to review the self-study documents, and scores, see the tables and links below. Note that in 2008, NIFA is revising its portfolio documentation, combining the portfolio report and the self-assessment report into a single, enhanced, portfolio annual report.  As the agency transitions its portfolios, you may retrieve either the old or the new documents depending on the portfolio of interest.


[click on portfolio name to read portfolio report]

External Panel Assessment - Score (Year)

[click on score to read external panel report]

Most Recent Self- Assessment - Score (Year)

[click on score to read self-assessment report]

Animal Systems

85 (2009)

Agency Response


Community Sustainability and Quality of Life

81 (2006)

90 (2009)


72 (2009)
Agency Response


Environment and Natural Resources1

     Forests and Rangelands

     Soil, Air, and Water


77 (2005)

81 (2005)


Food Safety

83 (2005)

97 (2009)

Markets, Trade, Policy, and International Development2

   Agricultural Markets and Trade

   International Economic Development

75 (2004)

69 (2004)

78 (2008)

Nutrition and Healthier Food Choices


86 (2009)

Plant Systems3

   Plant Protection

   Plant Production

80 (2005)

81 (2004)

89 (2009)


Processing, Engineering, and Technology for Food and Bioproducts
80 (2004)
93 (2008)

Sustainable Farm Enterprises

65 (2009)
Agency Response



1 The Environment and Natural Resources portfolio was formed by the merger of the Forests and Rangelands and the Soil, Air, and Water portfolios in 2007.

2The Markets, Trade, Policy, and International Development portfolio was formed by the merger of the Agricultural Markets and Trade and the International Economic Development portfolios in 2008.

3The Plant Systems portfolio was formed by the merger of the Plant Protection and the Plant Production portfolios in 2008.