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Many Ways To Open New Window on Research

By Jim De Quattro
September 26, 2000

Web users can now build their own windows on the research projects, programs, people and places of the Agricultural Research Service, USDA's chief scientific agency.

A completely redesigned web site for ARS' national research programs is the agency's latest major initiative to make its operations more responsive and its data more accessible to the public, the Congress, industry and other stakeholders.

The web site, at www.nps.ars.usda.gov, is the home page of ARS' National Program Staff. The NPS oversees the approximately 1,100 inhouse research projects conducted by almost 2,000 ARS scientists at about 100 locations. Together the projects make up the agency's 22 national research programs.

The NPS site is a build-it-yourself "map" of ARS. Visitors build unique web pages by calling up specific information of interest from a set of massive internal ARS databases. As examples, web browsers can use the site's search engine or navigation bars to build web pages that:

At most web sites, pages change only when their authors specifically modify the web files. But the NPS site is dynamic. Its content is compiled from the latest available version of the databases and from the web visitor's choices. The databases comprise about 250,000 different records.

The web site content is produced by Site Publisher 2, a software tool developed this year by NPS computer specialist Peter Lombardo in Beltsville, Md. Site Publisher also allows for personnel with no technical training to create and maintain special-purpose web sites. Future web visitors will be able to subscribe to customized bulletins on specific projects, programs, places or scientific personnel.

Contacts: About ARS research, Caird Rexroad, ARS Acting Deputy Administrator, Beltsville, Md., phone (301) 504-7050, fax 504-4725, cer@ars.usda.gov. About the NPS web site, Peter Lombardo, ARS National Program Staff, Beltsville, Md., phone (301) 504-4550, fax 504-4570, pvl@ars.usda.gov.

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