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United States Department of Agriculture

Agricultural Research Service

Agreement Descriptions
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Cooperative Agreements

The term cooperative agreement refers only to agreements with non-Federal entities. ARS authority to enter into mutually beneficial relationships to pursue common research in food and agricultural sciences was established under The Food Security Act of 1985. This authority is unique to ARS. In ARS, cooperative agreements document relationships between the ARS and eligible organizations or individuals when all parties have a mutual interest in the agreement’s objectives, all parties agree to contribute resources to accomplish the research objectives, and all parties participate in the cooperative work to be accomplished. Under this authority, relationships established for joint pursuit of common objectives are considered to be neither primarily acquisition nor assistance because all parties involved contribute resources to a joint effort and all parties benefit. Cooperative agreements have a maximum duration of 5 years.

Specific Cooperative Agreements (SCA)

Agreements between ARS and another party that describe in detail a jointly planned, executed, and funded research program or project. ARS is the provider of funds.

Research Support Agreements (RSA)

Legal documents reflecting a relationship between ARS and a cooperative institution only for the acquisition of goods and/or services, including limited personal services (short-term requirements only). This agreement is used to carry out agricultural research activities of documented mutual interest, and may cover multiple projects. ARS pays the cooperative institution for the goods and services.

Trust Fund Cooperative Agreements (TFCA)

Involve cooperative research between ARS and another party where ARS is paid in advance to conduct research, or for the other party to share in the cost of a research project conducted by ARS or for ARS to allow the use of any facility (notwithstanding lease requirements) or service. A Trust Fund Cooperative Agreement is similar to a CRADA, but lacks the provision for exclusive licensing of ARS inventions.

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Reimbursable Cooperative Agreements (RCA)

This type of agreement is similar to the Trust Fund Cooperative Agreement, except the other party pays when billed by ARS for work completed. A Reimbursable Cooperative Agreement is similar to a CRADA, but lacks the provision for exclusive licensing of ARS inventions.

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Non-funded Cooperative Agreement (NFCA) - An agreement between ARS and another party(s) that describes in detail a jointly planned and executed project of mutual interest. All parties contribute resources and benefit independently in the outcome of the project. There is no direct transfer of funding from one party to the other. This type of agreement can not be used to avoid established Federal procurement, property or personnel regulations.

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Grants

ARS is authorized to formally cooperate with and award noncompetitive Grants with any institution, including public and private organizations and individuals, as long at the following three conditions exist a) the work is consistent with the ARS mission, b) the objectives of the Grant will serve as a mutual interest of the parties, and c) all parties will contribute resources to the accomplishment of those objectives. A Grant transfers ARS money, property instead of money, services, or anything of value to a recipient to accomplish a public purpose of support or stimulation authorized by Federal statute, rather than acquisition by purchase, lease, or barter of property or services for the direct benefit or use of ARS; and where at the time the transfer is made, no substantial involvement is anticipated between ARS and the recipient during the performance of the contemplated activity.

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Assistance-Type Cooperative Agreements (ATCA)

A transfer by ARS of money, property instead of money, or anything of value to a recipient to accomplish a public purpose of support or stimulation authorized by Federal statute, rather than acquisition by purchase, lease, or barter of property or services for the direct benefit or use of ARS; and where substantial involvement is anticipated between ARS and the recipient during the performance of the contemplated activity.

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Memorandum of Understanding (MOU)

An agreement between a Federal agency and a Non-federal party that sets out, in very broad, general terms, a plan for the parties to coordinate their efforts with respect to a cooperative relationship(s) of mutual interest. No specific duties and responsibilities are defined. There is no direct transfer of funding from one party to the other. ARS must have statutory (programmatic) authority to participate in the project.

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CRADA

This is the most formal agreement available for cooperative research. It is authorized by the Federal Technology Transfer Act of 1986. Two aspects of a CRADA make it unique. First, it gives the cooperator the right to negotiate an exclusive license in at least one field of use to any ARS solely owned invention(s) or jointly-owned invention(s) conceived or reduced to practice under the scope of work of the CRADA. Second, it permits ARS, at its option, to keep information developed under the CRADA confidential for up to five (5) years if such information would have been proprietary had it been generated solely by the cooperator.

ARS is required to keep confidential, indefinitely, any proprietary information given to ARS directly by the Cooperator, unless the information becomes publicly available from a source other than ARS. CRADAs are appropriate vehicles for: a) Transfer and/or further development of ARS technology, b) Research combining ARS's and a Cooperator's intellectual property or technology, and c) Discovery and development of new and/or improved products and or services.

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Material Transfer Agreements

This agreement is used when a scientist desires to provide material to someone outside of ARS, but wants to maintain control over the material and also avoid public disclosure (use). It is also used to bring in material from parties outside ARS. This agreement states specifically what the material is, what it can be used for, restricts giving it to a third party without permission, and prohibits commercial use.

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Confidentiality Agreements

This agreement is used when a scientist wants to discuss unpublished information or data with someone outside of the Agency that other wise might disclose information that has patent potential, or if ARS wishes to share a patent application with an outside entity before the patent issues.

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Agreements with Other Federal Agencies (Interagency Agreements)

ARS can enter into a reimbursable agreement with another agency of the U. S. Department of Agriculture or an agency of another Department of the Federal government to provide services, supplies, and equipment requested by the ordering/requisitioning agency. The legal authority for entering into this type of agreement is normally 31 USC 1535, as amended by Public Law 97-332. This statute is commonly referred to as 'The Economy Act'. When the ordering agency has broader authority, e.g. multi-year spending authority, it overrides the fund availability time limits in The Economy Act and becomes the operative authority for both parties.

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Last Modified: 1/28/2005
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