WASHINGTON, Feb. 9 Seven Agricultural Research Service (ARS) Midwest Area employees received the agency's 2004 Gold Award for Excellence today for developing a new system for tracking U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) research projects.
The team and other award winners were presented with plaques and cash awards during a ceremony at USDA headquarters today. ARS is USDA's principal in-house scientific research agency.
The employees work in Administrative and Financial Management (AFM), which provides services for ARS and other agencies within USDA's Research, Education and Economics (REE) mission area. The "AFM Support Awards for Excellence" recognize the outstanding achievements of employees who have increased efficiency in the administrative and financial management support activities of agencies in REE.
Receiving the "Gold Award for Excellence" were area administrative officer Diane M. Strub, budget and fiscal officer Barbara J. Dailey, information technology specialist Paula S. Snell, and computer assistant Andrea J. Miller of the ARS Midwest Area Office in Peoria, Ill., along with location administrative officer Carol L. Moran, and information technology specialists Scott A. Farris and Terry L. Fultz of the agency's National Animal Disease Center in Ames, Iowa.
The team developed the computer-based CRIS Allocation Tracking System (CATS). It represents an improvement in how agency-wide field and area offices can accurately track accountability via data in the Current Research Information System (CRIS).
CRIS is USDA's documentation and reporting system for ongoing and recently completed research projects in agriculture, food and nutrition, and forestry.
One other employee and two teams were also honored with "AFM Support Awards for Excellence" during the ARS awards ceremony:
"Silver Award for Excellence"
David Prevar, area safety and health manager, and Thomas E. Franklin, environmental protection specialist, ARS Beltsville (Md.) Area, were awarded for developing a variety of safety and health programs that enhanced the environment, reduced operating costs and promoted research. Their achievements include the first environmental management system within ARS. This system, which earned the Beltsville Area a White House "Closing the Circle" Award, is now in place and part of the area's day-to-day operations.
The two also developed an affirmative procurement program that incorporated biobased, recycled and environmentally friendly products. With their staff, Prevar and Franklin began work with the research community on cleanup activities associated with the Environmental Protection Agency's National Priorities Listing program.
In addition, Prevar, working with the Office of Homeland Security, took a leadership role in implementing all aspects of the Select Agent Act.
"Bronze Award for Excellence"
Linda Mooney, administrative officer, ARS National Agricultural Library, Beltsville, Md.; Steve Edney, area administrative officer, ARS South Atlantic Area headquarters, Athens, Ga.; and colleagues were awarded for implementing an online procurement system. They worked with the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services' National Institutes of Health (NIH) and IntraMalls LLC of Silver Spring, Md. Mooney and Edney led a nine-member ARS team in agency-wide implementation of the research-oriented, online procurement system.
The system, IntraMalls, is a virtual mall containing more than three million items that offers access to 150 vendors, significant NIH discounts with specific vendors, options for sending orders to purchasing agents at other sites, automated tracking of orders and e-mail status updates, and an automated purchase log.
IntraMalls has potential to save ARS more than $1 million annually and may have further use within USDA. The team also saved money by bringing the system online over a three-month period.
"Bronze Award for Excellence"
Martha A. Snodgrass (formerly Konecny), extramural agreements specialist, Southern Plains Area Office, College Station, Texas, was honored for outstanding contributions to the Southern Plains Area and to ARS. Her primary responsibility is to negotiate, review, award, monitor and administer extramural agreements for the Southern Plains Area. This requires initiative, attention to detail and an understanding of how complex administrative functions interact. One of Snodgrass' most important attributes is the "can-do, proactive, helpful" attitude she has with all her customers.
One of her major contributions over the last several years has been her advice, support and service to the USDA Hispanic Serving Institutions (HSI) National Program. Of significance is her management of the Hispanic Association of Colleges and Universities (HACU) agreement.
Also, she was an active member of the planning committee for the recent Authorized Departmental Officer's conference in New Orleans. She also participated on an Area team to develop a computer-based training module that has since been released to all Southern Plains Area locations and to all ARS Location Administrative Officers.