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United States Department of Agriculture

Agricultural Research Service

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2004 Annual Performance Report
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1 - Introduction
2 - Table of Contents
3 - Goals 1 and 2
4 - Goal 3
5 - Goal 4
6 - Goal 5
7 - Goal 6
Goal 6



OBJECTIVE 6.0:  Provide Mechanisms To Ensure the Relevance, Quality, and Performance of the ARS Research Program.


Performance Measure 6.0.1:  Relevance—ARS’ basic, applied, and developmental research programs are well conceived, have specific programmatic goals, and address high priority national needs.




During FY 2004, ARS will track and report for the number of National Program Workshops, meetings, other workshops, and conferences that were designed, in whole or in part, to review the research focus of each National Program or to establish the research focus for the next 5-year program cycle.


ACCOMPLISHMENTS:  ARS conducted or participated in eleven National Program Workshops or other major meetings, workshops, or conferences that helped to confirm, refine, or direct the research focus of a specific National Program or Programs.


IMPACT/OUTCOME:  ARS’ continuing interaction with its customers, stakeholders, and partners ensures the relevancy of the Agency’s research in meeting the needs of American agriculture.  Meetings during the 5-year program cycle either confirm the direction of the research or allow the Agency to refine the direction.  National Program Workshops with customers, stakeholders, and partners, at the beginning of the 5-year cycle, help ARS establish that National Program’s research agenda.  These processes help enable ARS to fulfill its mission statement to:  “conduct research to develop and transfer solutions to agricultural problems of high national priority and provide information access and dissemination to ensure high quality, safe food, and other agricultural products, assess the nutritional needs of Americans, sustain a competitive agricultural economy, enhance the natural resource base and the environment, and provide economic opportunities for rural citizens, communities, and society as a whole.”


Performance Measure 6.0.2:  Quality—ARS research projects are reviewed by National Program external peer review panels at the beginning of the 5-year program cycle.




During FY 2004, ARS will report summary information on the number and percentage of projects reviewed for prospective quality, and the number in each Office of Scientific Quality Review (OSQR) category; summary data from the Research Position Evaluation System (RPES) peer reviews of Agency scientists; and the number of on-site expert reviews (location reviews) conducted to ensure the ongoing quality and performance of the research program. 


ACCOMPLISHMENTS:  OSQR conducted prospective peer reviews on 240 Project Plans with the follow results:


No Revision                     25       10.42%

Minor Revision                 98       40.83%

Moderate Revision            61       25.42% 

Subtotal             184       76.67%


Major Revision                 44       18.33%

Not Feasible                    12         5.00%

Subtotal               56       23.33%


IMPACT/OUTCOME:  ARS’ OSQR external independent peer review process has strengthened the overall ARS research program.  ARS, as part of its PART analysis, has set a goal of gradually increasing the number of projects that receive a rating of No Revision, Minor Revision, or Moderate Revision to 80 percent by 2010.


Performance Measure 6.0.3:  Performance—ARS will monitor and measure the performance of each research unit and National Program.




During FY 2004, ARS will report summary information that measures specific activities that indicate, to some extent, how well the overall ARS research program is performing.  These activities include the number of papers published, number of CRADAs executed, number of patents issued, number of licenses granted, and the number of new plant varieties and breeding lines released.  Beginning in FY 2004, ARS asked each research leader to assess his/her project’s progress against the milestones in their Project Plan, and indicate whether the each milestone was fully met, substantially met, or not met.  An explanation of why a milestone was not met was also requested.


ACCOMPLISHMENTS:  ARS scientists published 3,587 peer reviewed journal articles and book chapters.


IMPACT/OUTCOME:  Scientific publications are one of the principal mechanisms for transferring research products/findings to potential users of the information.  This is especially true of research knowledge generated by basic or fundamental research where the principal customers are other scientists who carry the work forward through applied and developmental research.


ACCOMPLISHMENTS:  ARS established 44 new CRADAs, received 50 new patents, and granted 29 new licenses.


IMPACT/OUTCOME:  These formal mechanisms enable ARS to more promptly and more effectively transfer new or improved research derived technologies to entities that can use the information to produce new or improved goods and services that benefit American agriculture and the economy.


ACCOMPLISHMENTS:  ARS released 57 new plant varieties and breeding lines.


IMPACT/OUTCOME:  ARS develops and releases new and improved plant varieties and breeding lines that have a wide range of desirable characteristics, such as greater productivity, resistance to diseases and/or pests, or greater tolerance to stresses, such as drought, salinity, etc.  These releases enable public and private sector scientists and breeders to develop new plants and market them to producers.


ACCOMPLISHMENTS:  ARS identified a total of 5,407 milestones across its 1,000+ research projects.  Of these, 3,169 milestones were fully met (59 percent) and 1,419 were substantially met (26 percent) for a total of 4,588 (85 percent) being fully or substantially met.  Eight hundred and nineteen milestones were not met (15 percent). The principle reasons why a milestone was not met were: a vacancy in the lead scientist position (through retirement, death, or delays in recruitment), redirection of the work into areas of higher national priority, failure of a collaborator to provide material in a timely manner, a research methodology did not perform as expected, aberrant weather conditions prevented the research from moving forward (e.g., continuing drought on Western rangeland), and changes in experimental design.  It should be noted that first year data is often open to question.  The Agency expects to refine the guidance governing this data before collecting FY 2005 data.




Analysis of Results:  Under Goal 6, Management Initiative 1, 3 Indicators are aligned under 3 Performance Measures.  While it is not possible to report all accomplishments numerically, the progress projected in these Indicators was completed or substantially completed during FY 2004.  Twenty-six significant accomplishments are reported below.


OBJECTIVE 6.1:  Provide Rapid, Comprehensive, and Long-Term Access to the Full Range of Agricultural Information Resources Through a Variety of National Agricultural Library (NAL) Delivery Systems, with Particular Emphasis on Digital Technologies.


Performance Measure 6.1.1:  Develop and deliver content for the NAL National Digital Library for Agriculture (NDLA).




During FY 2004, NAL will continue to expand and improve services based on customer usage and satisfaction data.


ACCOMPLISHMENTS:  NAL built a database to capture statistics about the management and delivery of digital information services, including electronic journals, reference materials, books, web sites, reference responses, and digitized collections.  The work was performed in conjunction with the Association of Research Libraries’ E-Metrics project.


IMPACT/OUTCOME:  NAL used the database to collect FY 2004 data and anticipates that the system will enable NAL to collect and compare cost and usage data consistently over time.  NAL plans to share the database with other research libraries.


ACCOMPLISHMENTS:  NAL increased the total volume of direct customer services by more than 30 percent, to nearly 67 million transactions.


IMPACT/OUTCOME:  More NAL customers were supplied with more services and more information on a 24/7 basis than ever before.


ACCOMPLISHMENTS:  NAL established a pilot small grants program for the Agriculture Network Information Center (AgNIC) members.  Grants were provided to members for digitization projects that would add important agriculture-related content to the web and the AgNIC portal.  An example of a project funding by a grant was the digitization of Farm Bill texts not previously publicly available on the web.


IMPACT/OUTCOME:  More important agriculture information has been available on the web by collaborations between NAL and AgNIC partners.


ACCOMPLISHMENTS:  The AgNIC - - portal architecture was completed in early 2004.  The distributed database interface has allowed one Spanish language partner in Mexico to enter records into the shared AgNIC database.  Most of these will be entered during 2005.


IMPACT/OUTCOME:  These new technologies will support far greater participation in AgNIC by HBCUs and Tribal institutions, as well as the Hispanic Serving Institutions and those institutions located in Spanish speaking countries.  The underlying architecture will also allow distributed web site development, easy content management, and other-than-English language interfaces (i.e., Spanish).


ACCOMPLISHMENTS:  The AgNIC Alliance began working with twelve potential partners ranging from tribal colleges to HBCUs to international organizations and U.S. Federal agencies.


IMPACT/OUTCOME:  The new USDA AgNIC membership encourages broader participation by USDA agencies and programs and establishes a model for partnering between USDA and an academic institution for AgNIC membership.   A small grant for travel expenses will further engage three additional HBCU institutions in a partnership to prepare a subject site on “goals” during 2005.  The distributed system will allow fuller participation by Spanish language communities throughout Latin America.


ACCOMPLISHMENTS:  Penn State University joined the AgNIC partnership to offer information on the History of 4-H.  The site will feature two new electronic finding aids jointly produced by Penn State and NAL -- one describes the earliest 4-H projects and the other provides citations and abstracts to 4-H intern reports.


IMPACT/OUTCOME:  For Penn State, the benefits of becoming an AgNIC partner stem from working with NAL and the 4-H materials.  The information regarding these historical materials is not presently available electronically.


ACCOMPLISHMENTS:  Maintaining the lowest possible turnaround time remained the highest priority for improving services to NAL document delivery customers.  Throughout FY 2004, NAL consistently maintained its goal of completing 98 percent of filled requests in two days.


IMPACT/OUTCOME:  Fast turnaround times and expanded electronic delivery options have been positively received by NAL customers.


ACCOMPLISHMENTS:  The Relais Enterprise document delivery system was installed and preparations were made for a spring 2005 launch.


IMPACT/OUTCOME:  The system will bring significant improvements in services by allowing USDA staff to submit requests for documents electronically from the AGRICOLA database without having to re-key or enter redundant information.  Documents will be delivered to users via the web.


ACCOMPLISHMENTS:  NAL completed the conversion of data from its legacy electronic library management system to the new library management system, Voyager.  The system was fully implemented.


IMPACT/OUTCOME:  Voyager’s search interface and better searching capabilities improves access to the Library’s online catalog, AGRICOLA.  The new system improves customer access to print and electronic materials in the Library’s collection.  The system will support a faster more efficient process for requesting copies of printed materials ensuring speedier delivery of content to NAL customers.


ACCOMPLISHMENTS:  The second year of the NAL-led Digital Desktop Library for USDA (DigiTop) showed continued success.  In addition to the establishment of ongoing funding from ARS, substantial funding was received from other USDA agencies, including the Forest Service.  In addition to providing continuous online access for USDA staff to the full text of electronic journals and newspapers, and to research databases, DigiTop added the provision of an end-user searchable Table of Contents service and an automated Selective Dissemination of Information or article citation alert service.


IMPACT/OUTCOME:  DigiTop provides 24-hour-a-day access to high demand databases, journals, newspapers, and other important digital information resources to USDA’s more than 100,000 staff members, who can search current citations and abstracts for more than 8,000 scholarly academic journals and the tables of contents for over 23,000 journals.  For periodic alerts of new publications of interest, DigiTop customers can have individualized search strategies developed, where appropriate databases are selected to meet specific needs, and duplicate records from overlapping databases are removed.  DigiTop services enable direct access to much needed information immediately, thereby providing a much stronger support to policymaking, research, and operations than was possible before DigiTop.


ACCOMPLISHMENTS:  The Food Safety Information Center (, which has two major emphases, saw significant increases in web site usage; more than 25 percent on the Food Safety Research Information Office web site and 111 percent on the Foodborne Illness Education Information Center (FSRIO) web site.  The center also began work on a trust fund agreement with the National Food Service Management Institute to provide information management and technical assistance on food service projects related to HACCP.  FSRIO hosted an ARS researcher for eight weeks who learned how to develop information products and provided a researcher’s perspective to the FSRIO products.  Significant progress in the migration to a database-driven web site was made in the FSRIO program as well as the ability to share the same database to display links, such as the Foodborne Illness program.


IMPACT/OUTCOME:  The FSRIO web sites’ growing usage has increased the ability to support information sharing for researchers and educators in food safety.  Sharing technology reduces duplication of work effort and saves time and cost of producing online resources.


ACCOMPLISHMENTS:  In collaboration with the ARS National Program Leader for Animal Health, NAL produced a major publication in support of the 2003 ARS Immunology Research Workshop, held in December 2003.  An electronic version of the publication will be available in 2005 on the web via the NAL Animal Welfare Information Center (AWIC) web site -


IMPACT/OUTCOME:  The workshop proceedings publication showcases the depth and breadth of the USDA immunology research and details results of four working groups tasked with identifying future research needs.  It also serves as an example of how NAL information centers can provide important support to the operational programs of USDA agencies.


ACCOMPLISHMENTS:  The Water Quality Information Center produced a comprehensive four volume bibliography covering environmental effects of USDA conservation programs, reviews of state-of-the-art conservation practices, environmental credit trading, and barriers and incentives to implementing conservation practices.  The volumes are available in print and online.


IMPACT/OUTCOME:  The four volume bibliography was produced to support the goals of USDA's multi-agency Conservation Effects Assessment Project (CEAP).  The bibliography was the first major accomplishment of the project and was distributed at the 12th National Non-point Source Monitoring Conference and to various stakeholders with interests in agricultural and environmental issues, including authors of a USDA-led literature synthesis of conservation practices used in cropping systems.


ACCOMPLISHMENTS:  NAL began working with the Economic Research Service (ERS) on a new Food Stamp Nutrition Connection recipe database scheduled to premier in June 2005 that will integrate data from the Infoscan database containing food price information from over 11,000 vendors in the United States.


IMPACT/OUTCOME:  The database will be used by Food Stamp educators nationwide to help program beneficiaries better manage family food dollars while preparing nutritious meals.


ACCOMPLISHMENTS:  Other publications and web-based information services developed by NAL covered various topic areas and emerging issues including:  Soybean Rust; Alternative Farming - Organic Marketing; Technology Transfer - Bioenergy and Biofuels; Water Quality - Conservation Programs and Practices; Food Safety - Risk Assessment, Biosensors, Predictive Microbiology; and Animal Welfare - Care and Use of Insects, Beef Housing and Welfare, Spaying and Neutering, Care of Selected Birds, Giant Panda Care, Traveling with Animals, BSE, and Other Animal Related Transmissible Spongiform Encephalopathies.


IMPACT/OUTCOME:  The development of these publications, often published quite rapidly, is one example of NAL’s response to customer information needs.  NAL’s web sites are linked to tens of thousands of institutions around the world and Web-site evaluation organizations continuously direct customers to NAL and make awards to NAL sites.


ACCOMPLISHMENTS:  Working under a formal agreement with the Technology Transfer Information Center, Artifex Equipment, Inc., was awarded a $75,875 SBIR grant from USDA to test the feasibility of using a corn-based, ARS-developed super absorbent polymer to dry wet materials.  A potential product called Dri-Gel emerged.  Nineteen additional agreements were signed to allow other libraries and organizations to test the product, and a provisional patent application was filed.  Additional testing by USDA chemists confirmed that the product does not harm paper.  Artifex received orders for the early stage product and is beginning to move into manufacturing. 


IMPACT/OUTCOME:  The funding received from SBIR/USDA allowed the testing, design, and early development of a new biobased product, Dri-Gel, for drying wet books and other materials, and the product is moving toward commercialization.  Artifex signed an agreement with another SBIR company and will begin marketing two products, Dri-Gel and an environmentally friendly de-acidification product.  This could result in the adoption of two new technologies by NAL and the archive community, and the prosperity of two very small companies.  This work illustrates how the Technology Transfer Information Center and other information centers use NAL’s electronic information sources to serve as an information support system to connect customers to research, market and manufacturing information, and to promote economic development.


ACCOMPLISHMENTS:  Content enhancements to the web site in FY 2004 include: Western Rangelands Invasive Plants; seventeen new species profiles; images added to nearly all species profile pages; a species of the month feature; enhanced coverage for legislation; international meetings; educational resources, etc.  The program continues to plan for change; input was gathered at a stakeholder workshop and through the ForeSee Customer Satisfaction Survey.


IMPACT/OUTCOME:  Impact of the web site continues to grow.  October 2004 saw nearly twice as many hits compared to the same month in 2003; altogether in the last year the web site was accessed more than two million times.  The stakeholder workshops and the ForeSee survey results are yielding information to guide development of the web site to better meet customer needs.


Performance Measure 6.1.2:  Integrate the NAL AGRICOLA database into the NDLA.




During FY 2004, NAL will continue to increase the amount and types of agricultural information covered by AGRICOLA, particularly online full text publications, reduce the time required for indexing top priority journal articles, and improve ways of finding information in AGRICOLA.


ACCOMPLISHMENTS:  NAL’s Technical Services Division continually monitors USDA and GPO web sites to identify new titles that should be added to NAL’s collection, including those available in electronic format.  In addition, numerous titles formerly received as gifts or on exchange are now available only via the web.  URLs for these types of publications are continually added to AGRICOLA, ensuring that access is continued and increasing the titles for which full text is available via AGRICOLA.


IMPACT/OUTCOME:  Materials that are shifting to e-only format are routinely identified, captured, and updated in the AGRICOLA catalog ensuring continued access to content and increasing the proportion of materials that are available electronically.  This will transition the NAL collection, as access becomes available, to electronic format and ultimately serve as the backbone for the National Digital Library for Agriculture.


ACCOMPLISHMENTS:  NAL catalogers and indexers added 9,533 links to online digital publications into the AGRICOLA database.  This represents a 19 percent increase over 2003 levels bringing the total to over 52,000 links.


IMPACT/OUTCOME:  AGRICOLA provides full text at the desktop for an additional 9,533 full text electronic publications.


ACCOMPLISHMENTS:  NAL implemented the use of the Voyager indexing module.  Enhancements to the indexing module remain to be implemented in order to maximize production, but the indexing of journal articles has recommenced and streamlined production was implemented.  This is part of an overall restructuring of the indexing workflow and the introduction of automated bibliographic systems that will speed up the creation of indexing records for AGRICOLA.  


IMPACT/OUTCOME:  NAL has established the environment and technology for new procedures and programs that will streamline the creation of citations for AGRICOLA in FY 2005 - 2006.


ACCOMPLISHMENTS:  In January, NAL published an updated 2004 version of the National Agricultural Library Thesaurus (NALT), which is used for indexing journal articles in AGRICOLA.  AGRICOLA bibliographic records were updated with the new terminology.


IMPACT/OUTCOME:  Updates in terminology which is alignment with agricultural trends and innovations simplifies finding relevant information in AGRICOLA.


ACCOMPLISHMENTS:  In August, a duplicate (mirror) web site for the NALT was established at the College of Agriculture and Natural Resources (CANR), Michigan State University.


IMPACT/OUTCOME:  A duplicate (mirror) web site ensures the availability of the thesaurus web pages and search functionality to customers in the case of unforeseen circumstances at either location and distributes system load among and between the two IT systems so that performance and reliability are optimal for customers.


Performance Measure 6.1.3:  Ensure long-term access to the resources of the NAL NDLA.




During FY 2004, NAL will continue to preserve, protect, and secure its national collection of agricultural information.


ACCOMPLISHMENTS:  NAL maintained currency with the latest versions of the software for Lots of Copies Keeps Stuff Safe (LOCKSS), a collaborative digital preservation demonstration project led by Stanford University.  NAL also began participation in the LOCKSS program as part of the LOCKSS/DOCS program working collaboratively with the Government Printing Office, Stanford University, and other universities in an effort to provide long-term access to government documents.  To that end, GPO visited NAL and did a system security scan of the LOCKSS hardware/software system.


IMPACT/OUTCOME:  NAL’s participation in the LOCKSS demonstration program is important in exploring options for providing citizens access to digital government information over time.  This effort marks pioneering efforts to address the issues of long-term storage, authenticity, and access for digital information.


ACCOMPLISHMENTS:  NAL’s digitizing efforts included completion of an effort to digitize the heavily used USDA Home and Garden series publications, improving access to the Journal of Agriculture and the Yearbook of Agriculture, increasing availability of digitized historical photographs, and other small collections which meet the needs of users.  The subject emphasis for digital conversion in 2004 was rural information.  Planning for links from the AGRICOLA database to NAL-digitized texts is underway.


IMPACT/OUTCOME:  Digitizing important library materials is key to meeting the needs of a varied customer base.  Digitization of the Home and Garden series publications was a model collaborative digital content building project among NAL, AgNIC, and Michigan State University.  This project not only provides customers with online access to a highly desirable and historic collection of USDA publications, but also provides a model for resource sharing to complete such a project.  Additional projects in 2005 will build on resource sharing and address the challenges encountered in digital projects.


ACCOMPLISHMENTS:  Cybersecurity activities included upgrading NAL’s firewall, instituting new user password change procedures in conjunction with migrating to Windows XP, responding to USDA security mandates, providing ARS online training in computer security, implementing a proxy server for USDA access to licensed databases through NAL, and launching a Virtual Private Network (VPN).


IMPACT/OUTCOME:  NAL’s improved security posture provides an even higher level of assurance for data integrity, mitigation of computer and network vulnerabilities, and at the same time, improved functionality for users.


ACCOMPLISHMENTS:  ARS designated the Abraham Lincoln Building as one of its mission critical sites due to NAL’s collection of materials that could be researched and utilized in the event of a national disaster.  As a result, approximately $1 million was provided to NAL for facility security upgrades in FY 2003.  Most of the upgrades were completed by the end of FY 2004.


IMPACT/OUTCOME:  Security upgrades are 95 percent complete and all of the systems are operational.  The contractor still has to complete minor corrections to the different security systems.  The security upgrades will provide better oversight of access to the building.  A state-of-the-art camera system provides a visual overview of activities at several critical locations at both internal and external areas around the building.  Guard service was also increased to ensure better coverage throughout the building, especially the entrances, loading dock, and the parking areas.




Analysis of Results:  Under Goal 6, Management Initiative 2, 1 Indicator is aligned under 1 Performance Measure.  While it is not possible to report all accomplishments numerically, the progress projected in this Indicator was completed or substantially completed during FY 2004.  The accomplishments are reported below.


Performance Measure 6.2.1:  Complete priority buildings and facilities projects on schedule and within budget.




During FY 2004, ARS will continue to modernize and construct new research facilities on a priority basis. 


ACCOMPLISHMENTS:  ARS completed design of research facilities at the following locations:  Albany, California; Hilo, Hawaii; Peoria, Illinois; Ames, Iowa; St. Paul, Minnesota; Oxford, Mississippi; Sidney, Montana; Wyndmoor, Pennsylvania; Charleston, South Carolina; Logan, Utah; and Leetown, West Virginia.  ARS completed construction of research facilities at the following locations:  Ames, Iowa; Miles City, Montana; Wyndmoor, Pennsylvania; and Albany, California.


IMPACT/OUTCOME:  New or modernized laboratory facilities have been provided to support the mission of the Agency in the areas of nutrition, food safety/quality, animal production and protection, natural resources and sustainable agricultural systems, and crop production and protection.
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Last Modified: 8/17/2005
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