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The Research Enterprise

Every single ARS research project is peer reviewed by scientific panels to ensure the continued excellence of the agency's research. The panels consist mainly of non-ARS scientists. The reviews are arranged through our Office of Scientific Quality Review.

Each research project is a part of one or more of 15 ARS National Research Programs. These programs are planned in consultation with many people inside and outside ARS. This ensures that the programs are relevant to priority needs.

Every research location is directly managed by one of our five area offices located around the country. Management of our overall research enterprise is provided through headquarters offices in Washington, D.C., and nearby Beltsville, MD.

In Beltsville, our Office of National Programs (ONP) staff ensures that our many research activities address the objectives of the National Programs and support the USDA mission.

The staff consists of about 24 National Program Leaders with expertise in many scientific disciplines. They are responsible for planning and executing our research strategies to solve critical problems affecting American agriculture.

The ONP works in small multi-disciplinary teams to define each program. This begins with soliciting information and views not only of ARS researchers but also of our customers, stakeholders and partners. One or more national workshops are held to help identify the problems and issues that can be addressed. We invite to the workshops our research customers, stakeholders and partners as well as ARS scientists and managers.

The result is a detailed, public 5-year action plan for each program. The plans will be available on this website. We revise an ongoing research project as needed to support the action plan.

Scientists prepare annual reports on each of their projects; National Program teams prepare summaries of accomplishments for each National Program. Links to program reports can be found by clicking on any of the National Programs listed here. You will find links to project reports by visiting here and entering search terms for projects of interest.

Towards the end of the cycle covered by our 5-year strategic plan, National Program teams evaluate each program's scope and accomplishments and begin planning for the next 5-year cycle.