Northeastern Supplement to the National Mutistate Research Guidelines

NORTHEASTERN SUPPLEMENT TO THE NATIONAL MULTISTATE RESEARCH GUIDELINES

Fall 2001

TABLE OF CONTENTS[1]

INTRODUCTION

The four geo-regional associations of State Agricultural Experiment Station (SAES) directors (Northeast, North Central, South, and West), in cooperation with the Cooperative State Research, Education, and Extension Service (CSREES)/USDA, have issued a set of National Multistate Research Guidelines for organizational and operational procedures that are common to all regions (http://www.escop.msstate.edu/guidelines.pdf).  These guidelines, however, recognize that there are some regional differences in procedures and policies relative to the conduct of multistate activities that are sufficiently important as to require the regional associations to develop supplements to the National Guidelines.

These Northeastern Region Interim Supplementary Guidelines apply to the Multistate Research Projects (MRP) and Multistate Coordinating Committees (MCC) that are, or will be, sponsored by the Northeastern Regional Association of State Agricultural Experiment Station Directors (NERA). In all cases, where guidance is provided in the National Guidelines, that guidance will take priority over these procedures.  However, consistent with the nature of guidance, exceptionsexemptions are permitted, and these supplementary guidelines reflect the operational procedures for the Northeastern region.

HISTORY OF MULTISTATE RESEARCH

In 1948 President Harry S. Truman signed into law a provision to set-aside 25 percent of the Hatch Act formula funding for research that is provided annually to State Agricultural Experiment Stations (hereafter referred to as SAES or Stations) for Multistate Research [2] . An understanding of the history and evolution of Multistate Research is important to the tasks of being a contributor to a Multistate Research Project.

The establishment of the Multistate Research Fund created a novel mechanism for the SAESs to work across state lines in ways that were previously more difficult. To coordinate the activities the four regions (as designated by the USDA) formed associations of SAES Directors to manage the portfolio, and to serve as the responsible body for the activities. Over time the associations have evolved to support an Office of the Executive Director (OED), which provides both staff support for Multistate Research activities and programmatic leadership for some aspects of the program. The region’s Association of SAES Directors provides Multistate Research Project administration.

To view the home pages of the regional associations go to the following URLs.

The Multistate Research Fund requires matching non-Federal funds, and is to be used to support research conducted, most simply, by two or more states. However in practice, membership on a Multistate Research Project’s technical committee is open to participation by scientists beyond regional and functional boundaries.

Multistate Research is easily justified from the Federal perspective inasmuch as research results often "spill over" state boundaries. It is known that Multistate Research activities provide synergy and some amplification of efforts, often leveraged from multiple sources of funding. Multistate Research is therefore, from the perspective of the Federal government, a very good deal.

The counterpart to the regional associations in the Federal-State partnership is the Partnership Office of the Cooperative State Research, Education, and Extension Service (CSREES) of the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA). The Partnership Office is responsible for the Federal oversight, accounting, and day-to-day record keeping for the Multistate Research Fund. In addition, each regional association supports the National Information Management and Support System (National IMSS), which can be found at www.lgu.umd.edu

A collateral, but completely separate, organizational entity is the Experiment Station Committee on Organization and Policy (ESCOP) of the National Association of State Universities and Land-Grant Colleges (NASULGC). ESCOP is not an instrument of the regional associations, but as a consequence of their appointments, SAES Directors belong to both organizations. There are, however, no legal links between the Multistate Research associations and ESCOP, and no formal exchanges of funding occur. This point is lost on many individuals not familiar with the structure of the U.S. regional and national agricultural research entities.

TYPES OF PROJECTS AND COMMITTEES

A. MULTISTATE RESEARCH PROJECTS

Formal Projects: The Multistate Research authority was created to stimulate and facilitate interstate cooperation on research of regional and national significance. The Multistate Research program is a flexible process that allows institutions to address high priority problems, plan research activities, and coordinate scientific investigations at a level not attainable by one institution operating alone. Multistate Research is a unique model that allows scientists to work freely across political boundaries, to create collaborations with institutions both public and private, and even to work with international partners when advantageous, and in ways that are not otherwise easily organized.

Multistate Research, as a program, addresses regional and national priorities, usually in response to either: a special scientific insight provided by participating research specialists; a recognized social, environmental or economic need; or in response to a recognized problem or constraint that cannot be overcome without some form of multi-institutional collaboration. Commonly, Multistate Research Projects address issues of national scope with specific research objectives. Commonly, institutional memberships extend well beyond the designated regional boundaries. Today in fact, many Multistate Research Projects frequently have three, and some even have four of the geographic regions represented as full members.

Multistate Research encourages teamwork while avoiding needless duplication of research. This is done through carefully coordinated planning and project management. Multistate Research Projects, by their very nature, can address research problems that are different in scope than those typically addressed by an SAES Hatch Projects. Multistate activities also allow collaborations to be extended in ways that support functional integration, and amplify cooperation with Federal and state agencies. This last point is particularly true for projects that include member-scientists from the USDA’s Agricultural Research Service (ARS) and Economic Research Service (ERS); from the U S Environmental Protection Agency (EPA); and from many other Federal and state government research entities. Today, the Multistate Research portfolio represents a significant allocation of Federal funding which is leveraged by additional support from state and other sources.

Rapid Responses: There is one important exception to the normal procedure for initiating a Multistate Research Project. When an urgent problem requiring prompt action occurs, and the action must be taken by two or more states for a Multistate activity, a formal request can be made to the Chair of the Northeastern Regional Association of State Agricultural Experiment Station Directors Research Association (NERA) to accept a proposal for a 500 Series Multistate Research Project without prior review and approval by the Regional Association or by CSREES. This "fast-track" approach, called a Rapid Response Project, can be used to form an emergency project. A special project format (with signatures from the participating Station Directors) is required (see National IMSS). One of the directors is designated as Administrative Advisor. The proposed project is then referred to the NERA’s Multistate Activity Committee (MAC), and once the MAC approves, the CSREES Partnership Office is notified and a copy of the approved proposal is deposited with the Partnership Office. When this is completed CSREES forwards the CRIS forms to the participating Stations for their completion. Although similar in many ways to the normal process for establishing a Multistate Research Project, this "fast-track" process was put in place to make sure that a quick response could be made to an urgent problem.

Multistate Research Projects are not:

To this last point, many scientists who work to form a Multistate Research Project mistakenly believe that once the project proposal is approved, Federal funds will automatically flow to the project’s participants. This is for the most part not the case. In fact, for most successful projects, some additional extramural funding is needed to support a project’s planned activities. In some cases SAES Directors may apply supplemental funds from state, industry, commodity and other sources to assist scientists in carrying out the objectives of the project. In other cases the scientists themselves will need to seek additional funding. Multistate Research funds are typically leveraged five times over from other sources, for a significant amplifying effect.

Even still, many scientists complain that the financial support provided to them after creating a Multistate Research Project is not sufficient, given the effort required to form a project. Administrative Advisors are frequently asked to explain this apparent discrepancy, and they need to defuse arguments over inadequate funding that are often advanced by scientists who view the Multistate Research Fund authority as a research grants program.

In special cases, the Association(s) may approve some “off-the-top” funding for multistate and national projects. Requests for "off-the-top" funding must be submitted early enough for consideration (usually at the Winter meeting of the Association where much of the Association’s Multistate Research business is conducted) and to allow for some follow-up decisions (at the Summer Association meeting) if needed. It is also important to remember to request other "off-the-top" funding needs (such as regional publication costs) at this same time (see later section).

B. MULTISTATE COORDINATING COMMITTEES

To accommodate needed activities in the region that do not well fit into formal Multistate Research Project the association sanctions Multistate Coordinating Committees (MCC). MCCS come in many forms, and are distinguished from formal Multistate Research Projects in that Multistate Research Funds may be expended only for travel. Reporting those travel expenditures are accounted for through the administrative project NE59. Other expenditures (e.g., operations and salaries) are not allowed by CSREES rules.

However, any reasonable expenditure may be claimed for integrated activities that are carried out under the sanction of a Multistate Coordinating Committee. Thus, many of our regional centers (e.g., NE Center for Rural Development, NE Pest Management Center, NE Aquaculture Center), regional programs (e.g., SARE), and regional activities expenditures are tracked as MCCs, and thus become available to claim in annual Accomplishments and Results reports under the state-based Plans of Work.

The tracking of such expenditures is done through contributing Hatch projects. When endorsed by the center or program as a contributing project. The text is modified to contain a sentence identifying that center or program. Current Research Information System (CRIS) word searches can them provide SAES directors with the financial information associated with that integrated activity.

MCCs are neither reviewed nor approved by CSREES inasmuch as they are not eligible for Multistate Research Fund expenditures. MCCs fall within another set of procedures for activities that do not require formal CSREES approvals.

C. THE MULTISTATE ACTIVITY COMMITTEE

In the Northeastern Region’s SAES NERA Directors have established the Multistate Activity Committee (MAC) that has representation from regional extension directors. MAC has been delegated responsibility for facilitating the development of proposals, organizing peer reviews, conducting evaluations of progress, and making recommendations to the NERA directors on all aspects of the region’s research and integrated research/extension/academic programs.  Projects and coordinating activities may involve research only or they may be integrated with one or more functional areas, i.e., extension, academic programs, or international programs.

MAC will annually develop a portfolio of approved and active regional efforts that will be described on the NERA web site. MAC will review and recommend the disposition of proposed Multistate Research Projects and MCCs to the member directors.  MAC will provide oversight and accountability in compliance with the requirements of the Agricultural Research Extension and Education Reform Act of 1998 for reporting accomplishments and resource commitments.  MAC will annually conduct a survey and report to the directors on newly emerging issues that require multistate coordination.  MAC will serve as a clearinghouse for acute problems and issues that require multistate consideration. MAC will develop strategies to encourage multistate, integrated efforts.  MAC will utilize the services of Office of the Executive Director (OED) for logistical support, administrative oversight and record keeping.

The MAC membership consists of three members from NERA and two from the Northeastern Extension Directors Association (NEED). Additionally, individual liaisons are invited to participate in MAC deliberations from one member from the Northeastern Association of Academic Programs (NE APS), the Northeastern Administrative Heads Association and the Northeastern Council on Agriculture, Research, Extension and Teaching (NE CARET).

I. GUIDELINES FOR THE DEVELOPMENT OF NORTHEASTERN MULTISTATE RESEARCH PROJECTS

Multistate Research Project (MRP)-type activities involve cooperative, jointly planned research employing multidisciplinary approaches in which one SAES, working with another SAES, the Agricultural Research Service (ARS), or a college or university, cooperates to solve problems that concern more than one state and usually more than one region.  Cooperative Extension and Academic Program faculty are encouraged to participate if and when appropriate to meeting the jointly agreed and specific research objectives.

The following guidelines provide a logical chronology of the steps involved in the establishment of a Multistate Research Project.

A. Development and Approval of a New Multistate Research Project: Case 1

(The following steps are recommended for development of a new Multistate Research Project)
  1. An SAES director with at least one other SAES director as a co-sponsor, or a cooperating Federal agency director with at least two SAES directors as cosponsors, submits a request to develop a Multistate Research Project proposal to the MAC through the OED.
  2. The MAC will consider the proposal as soon as it is received (via electronic means, if urgent). If the research problem appears suitable for a Multistate Research Project, the MAC Chair will request the Chair of NERA to appoint an interim Administrative Advisor and the association’s membership to authorize the establishment of an ad hoc technical committee.
  3. The Administrative Advisor will:
    1. Convey the description of the proposed concept for development into a multistate research proposal to all SAES and Extension Directors, academic program directors and cooperating Federal agency directors, and invite them to identify research, teaching and extension faculty who may choose to participate in final proposal development.
    2. Organize a meeting of the ad hoc technical committee for the purpose of developing a written multistate research proposal.
    3. Collect the completed "Form for Reporting Projected Participation" (Appendix E) forms from each participant.  This is greatly facilitated through the National Information Management and Support System (IMSS) (www.lgu.umd.edu). The necessary forms will all accompany the proposed DRAFT Multistate Research Project outline when it is submitted to the MAC through the IMSS/OED.  The approvals to participate by the individual stations’ directors are required prior to the proposal’s submission.
    4. none'>d. Assure that the project proposal conforms to the project outline format as shown in Appendix A of the National Multistate Research Guidelines.
    5. Submit the proposal to the OED electronically. The proposal will subsequently be distributed electronically for scientific peer review.  A list of five (5) potential peer reviewers is to accompany the draft proposal.  Appendix G contains the form to be used by peer reviewers to gather their comment on the proposed project outline.
    6. Facilitate the incorporation of suggestions of the peer reviewers into the proposal.
    7. Transmit the proposal to MAC through the OED in advance of established deadlines (Note: These deadlines vary each year, and are mostly three weeks ahead of the Winter/Spring meetings of NERA).  Preferably, submission should be made electronically.
  4. MAC reviews the proposal and makes a recommendation to the membership of NERA.  If NERA accepts the recommendation of the MAC, the Chair of NERA will appoint a permanent Administrative Advisor. 
  5. Once approved IMSS assigns a formal project number and transmits an official copy to the Partnership Office of CSREES, and notifies all associated participants by e-mail messages.
  6. If the CSREES Partnership Office concurs with the association’s decision they notify the appropriate states, participating agencies, and contributing institutions as they have been listed in the proposal.  Projects are usually approved for a period of five years or less. However, in those circumstances where longer periods of time are appropriate (e.g., plant breeding projects) more time may be requested and can be granted. However, the objectives and outputs and outcomes must match the requested timetable.
  7. Each participating scientist prepares forms AD-416 (CRIS work units), AD-417 (research classification), and Form-662 (protection of human subjects, etc.) as required by CSREES and submits the forms through his or her station’s director directly to CSREES.  In the case of Federal scientists, all that may be required is an amendment to fields 22-23 of their existing AD-416's.

B. Development and Approval of a New Multistate Research Project: Case 2

This scenario applies when scientists are currently working together on an existing MRP or MCC.  The procedure for preparing a new project (based on an existing projects) is the same as for Case 1 except that the current committee will serve in the role as an ad hoc technical committee.  In addition, the current committee needs to prepare a "Critical Review" of their accomplishments, as a section to be included in their new project proposal.

C. Development and Approval of a Revised Multistate Research Project

At the end of a MRP’s authorized duration, the project’s committee members may decide to seek a revision of a multistate project, building the new research effort on the results of the previous project.  In such a case, the Administrative Advisor should follow the same procedure as defined above except that the current committee will serve as the ad hoc technical committee for the development of a revised project outline.  The multistate research project number identifier will be terminated at the end of the approved period unless specifically approved by NERA and CSREES.

A "critical review" is required for all proposed project revisions, providing a summary of:  (1) work accomplished under the original project; (2) the degree to which the objectives have been accomplished; (3) work that is incomplete, or areas in need of further investigation.  This “critical review” should be incorporated into the “Related, Current, and Previous Work” section of the new project outline.

D. Development and Approval of a Request for an Extension of a Multistate Research Project

At least two years [3] in advance of the date for scheduled termination of a Multistate Research Project, the technical committee should consider whether the project will be terminated on schedule or whether it may not be able to complete work on all the project objectives during the allotted time (five years or less). If the work cannot be completed the technical committee, through the Administrative Advisor, may wish to request an extension of the life of the current project in order to finish the remaining research objectives and publish the results. The need for additional time to prepare a revised project outline is not an appropriate justification for extension.

  1. In the case that the work may not be completed, the Administrative Advisor will:
    1. Prepare, with the assistance of the technical committee, a justification letter requesting extension of the project for a stated period of time (usually for one, but not more than two years).  The letter should be signed by the Administrative Advisor and contain the following:

      1. The reasons for the requested extension (i.e., a discussion of the work already accomplished and remaining work to be done); and,
      2. The objectives of the project that still need to be addressed (i.e., the work planned for the period of the extension to complete the project).
    2. Transmit the letter to MAC through the OED in advance of established deadlines (commonly January 15 and May 15). This letter may be transmitted electronically.
  2. MAC reviews the request and makes a recommendation to NERA.
  3. If the NERA approves the request, it is transmitted to CSREES by the OED.
  4. CSREES then concurs and notifies the states, agencies, and institutions listed as participants in the project. If CSREES does not concur, a request to reconsider is transmitted back to NERA, via the OED.

II. GUIDELINES FOR THE DEVELOPMENT OFNORTHEASTERN MULTISTATE COORDINATING COMMITTEES [MCC’S])

MCC’s provide a mechanism for addressing critical regional issues where cross-functional integration and/or multistate cooperation/coordination is very appropriate.  The work of NE MCC’s can be classified into the following three categories:

Research and/or extension faculty; or MAC (both with appropriate input from research, extension, academic program administrators, and affiliate member groups of NERA, and our stakeholders), will serve as the sources of requests for creating MCC’s. Two or more NERA member, and/or NERA member and CES director, and/or Academic Program deans will make the actual request for establishment of a MCC from more than one state, as appropriate. Administrators of affiliate institutions of NERA (e.g., ARS/USDA, US EPA) may submit a petition with either a NERA or NEED director, as a co-sponsor.

MCC’s are encouraged to explore and develop expanded multistate, integrated efforts in the Northeastern Region through partnering with others, including both public and private organization. Faculty working on similar issues in states outside of the Northeastern Region should be invited to participate.

Those proposing a new MCC, which, for reasons beyond their control, does not follow these guidelines, should contact the OED and work with that office and MAC to make certain that all necessary requirements have been met.  The OED and MAC are available to provide guidance in the development of a MCC request.

The following guidelines provide a logical chronology of the steps involved in the establishment of a MCC.

A. Development and Approval of a New MCC:  Case 1

(The following steps are recommended)

  1. An SAES director, CES director, or AP dean with at least one other director from one of the functional areas as co-sponsor, or a cooperating affiliate group director with at least two functional directors as co-sponsors, submits a request to develop a MCC to the MAC through the OED.
  2. The MAC will consider the request as soon as it is received (via electronic means, if urgent).  If the request appears suitable for the formation of a MCC, MAC recommends to the NERA Chair the appointment of an Administrative Advisor and authorization of ad hoc MCC.
  3. The Administrative Advisor will:
    1. a. Convey nationally (SAES, CES, and APD, and directors of NERA affiliate groups) a description of the proposed MCC activity and invite them to identify research, extension or academic program people interested in participating in the development of a MCC petition. 
    2. b. Organize a meeting of the ad hoc MCC for the purpose of developing a proposal.
    3. Collect completed “Form for Reporting Projected Participation” (Appendix E) forms from each participant.  The original forms must accompany the original MCC petition when it is submitted to the OED (These submissions may be made electronically.) The approval of the appropriate (i.e., employing) station director is required prior to submission.
    4. Insure that the MCC petition conforms to the requirements contained in Appendix B.
    5. Submit an electronic copy of the petition to the OED to obtain peer reviews of the petition by MAC. This should be accompanied by names and e-mail addresses of five possible peer reviewers.
    6. Supervise the incorporation of suggestions of the peer reviewers into the proposal, with the assistance of the ad hoc MCC.
    7. Transmit the petition to MAC through the OED in advance of established deadlines (usually around January 15 and May 15).
  4. MAC reviews the petition and makes a recommendation to the NERA members.
  5. If the NERA directors approve the peer reviewed proposal, it is assigned a MCC number by the OED, usually to begin the following October 1 (or sooner if requested).  MCC’s are approved for a period of five years or less.

B. Renew of an Existing MCC, or the Re-designation of an Existing Activity:  Case 2

This scenario applies to any of the following cases:

The procedure for development of a MCC of this type will follow the same procedures as described above for Case 1 with the exception that an ad hoc committee would not be formed for developing the MCC proposal. The existing MCC or group will serve this role. It is assumed that the activity coordinated by a MCC is ongoing and the group may wish to continue coordination beyond the assigned duration of a MCC.  There is no limit on the number of renewals of a MCC that may be granted. In such a case, the Administrative Advisor should follow the same procedure as defined in Case 1 above except that the current committee will serve as the ad hoc committee for the development of a renewal proposal.

C. Development and Approval of a Request for an Extension of a MCC

In advance of the date for scheduled termination of a MCC, the committee should consider whether the activity will be terminated on schedule or whether it may not be able to complete work on all the objectives during the allotted time (five years or less). If not the committee may wish to extend the life of the current MCC in order to finish the remaining objectives.  The need for additional time to prepare a revised MCC petition is not an appropriate justification granting an extension.

  1. 1.   In the case that the activity may not be completed, the Administrative Advisor will:
    1. Prepare, with the assistance of the committee, a justification letter requesting extension of the MCC for a stated period of time (usually for one, but not more than two years).  The letter should be signed by the Administrative Advisor and contain the following:
      1. The reasons for the requested extension (i.e., a discussion of the work already accomplished and remaining work to be done); and,
      2. The objectives of the project that will be realized (i.e., the work planned for the period of the extension to complete the project).
    2. Transmit the letter to MCC through the OED in advance of established deadlines (usually about January 15 and May 15). The letter may be transmitted electronically.
  2. MAC reviews the request and makes a recommendation to the NERA members.
  3. If the request is approved by the NERA members the extension becomes effective on the requested date.

III.  ADDING NEW PARTICIPANTS TO MULTISTATE RESEARCH PROJECTSAND COORDINATING COMMITTEES

Once a Multistate Research Project or Multistate Coordinating Committee has been approved by the NERA members, new participants may be added to the project via the following mechanism. It is assumed that a request by a scientist or extension faculty to participate in an existing project/coordinating committee will not alter the title or create a need to change in the objectives of the project/coordinating committee.

IV. REVIEW OF PROPOSED MULTISTATE INTEGRATED ACTIVITIES

The NERA directors have delegated the oversight of peer reviews to MAC.   All proposed multistate, integrated research and extension activities will be peer reviewed prior to implementation. This peer review will be for the purposes of:

For Multistate Research Projects, initiation of the peer review process will be the responsibility of the Administrative Advisor with support from OED. The Administrative Advisor will identify a minimum of five peer reviewers (individuals deemed qualified to judge the worthiness of the proposal based on the criteria on which they are being asked to comment). Identification of reviewers is needed at the same time required for submission of the project outline.  The reviewers will evaluate the proposal using Appendix G of the National Multistate Guidelines.

For coordinating committees, the MAC has the responsibility for the overseeing the review process. The assigned reviewers will evaluate the MCC proposal on the following elements:

  • The peer reviewers will evaluate the proposal using Appendix J of the National Multistate Guidelines.

    V. TECHNICAL COMMITTEE MEETINGS

    A. Notices and Minutes

    Calling a Meeting: The Administrative Advisor must authorize all committee meetings and this can be easily done by using the National IMSS, which automatically issues the appropriate e-mail messages.  The meeting announcement is sent electronically from the Administrative Advisor to all committee members, invited guests, SAES directors, CES and Academic Program directors (as appropriate) participating agencies, institutions, the OED, and the CSREES representative.  With a wider distribution, the announcement provides an opportunity for soliciting additional participation in the project or committee’s activity.

    Recording Meeting Minutes: The secretary of the committee records the minutes of meetings and prepares copies for distribution to all members.  A summary of the minutes (including attendance) should be included in the SAES-422 Annual Report or a citation should be given of their location (URL) if they are to be found at a website.  Optionally, an expanded set of minutes may be desired “for the record” by the committee itself for the purpose of assisting the committee in the management of the project. But the expanded minutes are not required to be reported to CSREES or NERA.

    Web Pages: Each Administrative Advisor is invited to locate and maintain his/her project/coordinating committee web page on the National IMSS.  A unique password is assigned to each project/coordinating committee’s Administrative Advisor.  Thus, the Administrative Advisor may provide the password to an individual responsible for the project/coordinating committee web page to up-date web pages.

    B. Frequency of Meetings

    Committees normally meet once each year.  If necessary, the Administrative Advisor may authorize more than one meeting per Federal fiscal year (October 1 – September 30). The announcement from the Administrative Advisor authorizing the meeting should indicate that it is an additional meeting, and explain why it is needed.

    C. Location of Meetings

    The meeting location is left to the discretion of the Administrative Advisor, working in consultation with the committee. The appropriateness of location and the conservation of time and travel funds should be considered in determining the location of meetings. If meetings are held in conjunction with professional society meetings, committees are encouraged to meet prior to the society meetings.

    D. Decision Making

    Decision making by technical committees and coordinating committees should be done by consensus whenever possible.  However, when that is not feasible, and activities need to proceed, a majority vote by those present at the meeting shall resolve all agenda questions.  This my in some cases permit under or overrepresentation of some participant institutions or of functions, but other forms of fixed representation have problems as well.  Administrative Advisors should monitor meeting representation to assure that fairness is predominant in all decisions.

    VI. REPORTING AND REVIEW REQUIREMENTS

    A. Annual Progress Report

    The Administrative Advisor for each multistate activity, with assistance of its members, submits an annual SAES-422 report (Appendix D) to highlight the milestone-based accomplishments, collective outputs, outcomes, and possible impacts resulting from an activity. The report is due 60 calendar days following the annual meeting.  This annual report should also include the decisions made at the meeting, or citation of their WWW location (URL) if they are to be found at a website for the activity. The SAES-422 is intended to facilitate a participating station's reporting of Plan of Work accomplishments, and is intended to assist national activities that document the contributions of multistate activities. The locations of record for the SAES-422 reports will be the CRIS for Multistate Research Projects (with copies submitted to the OED), and the national IMSS for MCC’s.

    All SAES-422 reports will become a part of the National IMSS. The SAES and CES directors and Academic Program deans will be able to utilize this report for identifying their contributions to multistate activities.  The SAES-422 will also be used by the ESCOP/ECOP/CSREES Impact Assessment Committee in the development of Annual Impact Statements that are widely distributed to the SAES and policy makers. It is the Administrative Advisor’s responsibility to develop the actual impact statements for inclusion in the SAES-422.  Involvement of the agricultural communications writers in preparing the impact statements is encouraged.  The agricultural writers from the Administrative Advisor’s university should take the lead in writing the multistate impacts.

    Based on these individual impact statements the OED will annually develop a set of summary regional impact statements, for multiple uses.

    B. Review of Approved Multistate Research Project/Activity

    All NE Multistate activities are subject to the following review schedule of their progress according to the following points.

    Multistate Research Projects

    1. In the third year following a project’s initiation the Administrative Advisor should cause to be completed:
        li>An in-depth review of the Project by examining available documentation such as project outlines, annual progress reports, and minutes of meetings.
      1. Forward any request to extend the activity, based on not being able to complete one or more of the objectives.
    2. In the fourth year following a project’s initiation the Administrative Advisor should cause to happen:
      1. An assessment of the project’s accomplishments and impacts.
      2. An assessment of the willingness of the participants to continue the activity.

    Multistate Coordinating Committees:

    1. The Administrative Advisor shall cause to happen a mid-term review of all five-year projects. An optional first or second year review that may be requested by the Administrative Advisor if the project is scheduled for less than a 5-year term.

    C. Termination Reports

    For the last year of an activity the SAES-422 will serve as both the final year annual report and the termination report.  The emphasis in the final annual report should be on the accumulative accomplishments and impacts of the research over the duration of the project. Responsibility for preparing and submitting the termination report rests with the Administrative Advisor. Termination reports should be distributed through the same process as for annual reports.

    VII. ADMINISTRATIVE ADVISORS

    A. Role

    The Administrative Advisor is the key person in the development and management of a multistate research or integrated research and extension activity.  He or she encourages team effort, advises on administrative and operational procedures, and acts as liaison among the committee, the MAC, the NERA directors, the NEED directors, Academic Program deans, other cooperating agencies and institutions, the OED, and CSREES.

    B. Eligibility and Selection

    All NERA Administrative Advisors are appointed by the Chair of NERA, based on recommendation from MAC.  MAC attempts to match the expertise and interests of the Administrative Advisor with those of the committees.  In addition, the MAC has a goal for each Administrative Advisor to have responsibility for no more than two committees.

    Administrative Advisors of MRPs must be either an NERA director (including assistant and associate directors), a research dean or associate dean of member institutions of the NERA, or an administrator of a USDA research-performing agency (e.g., ARS). 

    Administrative Advisors of MCC's may be a NERA director, a NEED director (including assistant and associate directors), or an Academic Program dean, administrators of USDA research-performing agencies, or a dean, associate dean, or department head/chair of member institutions of the NERA or NEED, or a director of affiliate groups. 

    When a USDA administrator is appointed as an Administrative Advisor he/she usually serves as the Lead-Advisor with an NERA or NEED director located in the same state, to be designated as the Co-Advisor.

    Co-Advisors are also required for MCC when the Administrative Advisor is a department head/chair.  Before a department head/chair can be appointed an Administrative Advisor, approval of the respective NERA or NEED director must be obtained.

    The Co-Advisor must co-approve all meeting authorizations, annual reports, project outlines, and addenda to projects and should be kept informed of all committee activities and reports. But the Co-Advisor need not attend MCC meetings.

    VIII. GUIDELINES FOR ADMINISTRATIVE ADVISORS

    The Administrative Advisor is looked upon as an individual who knows about Multistate Research rules and regulations, and can share with others the concepts and purposes of the Multistate Research program. Administrative Advisors must be well versed in Multistate Research concepts, and should be able to provide examples of what constitutes accepted practices, and what does not.

    One contribution an Administrative Advisor can make to a Multistate Research Project is to suggest strategies for obtaining complementary funding. Multistate Research funding is not a grant to a research project per se, but it is more an authority for forming partnerships among institutions that operate as a "project-without-institutional-boundaries." Often the formation of a Multistate Research Project positions the project’s participants to compete better for extramural funding (e.g., the Initiative for the Future of Agriculture and Food Systems). But grant seeking can, in some cases, lead to some difficulties when the successful fund raising expands the scope of the project beyond the original objectives of the activity. Such changes in direction can lead to a need to rewrite the activity’s plan of work. This is however, not always the case, but it certainly is something that needs to be monitored by the Administrative Advisor.

    Another contribution that the Administrative Advisor makes to a Multistate Research Project is to assist the Technical Committee (and particularly its leadership) in both championing the project and helping to get activities completed. Oftentimes the elected leadership of a Multistate Research Project has only limited experience in committee operations. The Administrative Advisor has an important role to play in advising a project’s technical committee on topics such as: how to run a meeting; how to bring about decisions; and how to comply with administrative requirements, when functioning as a sanctioned Multistate Research technical committee.

    The Administrative Advisor provides the authority for the project or committee to initiate certain activities, such as authorizing a meeting (either by calling the meeting directly or empowering someone else to do it). A common failure of Administrative Advisors is not exercising their authority until it is too close to the meeting time. This can result in some degree of frustration for scientists participating in a project or committee. In the worst-case scenario some of the committee members may not be able to attend because they were informed about the meeting too late. A good guide for an Administrative Advisor is to authorize a meeting at least two months in advance. Most recently, this has been done by e-mail through the National Information Management System (National IMSS) (see later sections).

    Alternatively, some committees place the decision for the next meeting’s time and location on the current agenda, and then note the decision in the minutes for better communication. This is a much-preferred method of meeting planning.

    The Administrative Advisor needs to plan ahead and in some cases actually "push" the committee to get things done. This is particularly true for setting an agenda for a meeting, which must be done early enough to make sure that the agenda has wide acceptance and does not omit important topics from consideration. Many Administrative Advisors include the USDA/CSREES representative in the process of agenda setting, and this helps to expedite decisions as well.

    Another important contribution of an Administrative Advisor is providing a systematic approach to complying with the reporting requirements of the Multistate Research authority. The advent of the National IMSS will greatly facilitate this responsibility.

    An additional contribution of an Administrative Advisor is in encouraging a project to link with projects in other regions by sharing national perspectives and spotting opportunities for scientific interaction with projects of a similar nature. Linking to other activities sanctioned by other regions may open doors to additional collaborations. Administrative Advisors should also be looking to encourage participation in Multistate Research by other scientific disciplines (e.g., bringing forage breeders together with animal scientists), and whenever possible, expanding a project’s scientific expertise. Administrative Advisors should also be on the lookout for opportunities to include extension specialists as members in multistate activities, as appropriate. In the Northeast region there are NE Research and Extension Committees (NEREC) and NE Research, Extension and Academic Program Projects (NEREAPs) that function as joint research and extension or research, extension and teaching coordination committees. Also under discussion in the Northeast (following the lead of the Western Region) is a proposal to invite extension leaders to participate as full members in the Association’s Multistate Activities Committee (MAC).

    There are, however, some constraints to fully partnering with extension. These are primarily derived from different funding authorities, different organizing principles (projects vs. programs), and the dilemmas presented in not being able to "co-mingle" funding. Attention needs to be given to finding ways to form joint research and extension activities that go beyond mere coordination, to making them work.

    Finally, one of the major contributions of an Administrative Advisor is to emphasize the program, not the process, of multistate activities. There is a lot of documentation that is required to a get a Multistate Research Project or Multistate Coordinating Committee approved, and for keeping it going during its normal 5-year lifetime. Some scientists tend to get hung-up on the complexity of the process and forget the enormous advantages provided through the Multistate Research authority. Explaining the benefits of participating in a multistate activities to bureaucratically discouraged scientists remains a major responsibility of the Administrative Advisor.

    The Administrative Advisor to a Multistate Research Project has a number of duties that must be performed, if the project is to succeed.

    Meeting attendance - Administrative Advisors are expected to make a commitment to attend all committee meetings. There are too many multistate activity participants who complain that the Administrative Advisor has failed to regularly attend committee meetings.

    The Administrative Advisor is also responsible for encouraging the USDA/CSREES representative to attend all Multistate Research Project meetings as well. ‘Covering‘ for one another is not an acceptable practice. Both the Administrative Advisor and the CSREES representative should attend all committee meetings.

    The Administrative Advisor needs to make a commitment to administering the activity and to developing a full understanding of the nature and purposes of the activity, along with providing a focus to the activity’s objectives.

    Another duty of the Administrative Advisor is to follow-up on meeting "no shows" by calling the absent scientists to find out why they did not attend.

    Administrative Advisor's Duties

    1. Meeting participation
    2. Communication
    3. Agenda setting
    4. Resource Monitoring
    5. Orientation
    6. Facilitate addenda
    7. Monitor duplication
    8. Meeting Minutes
    9. Annual report
    10. Oversight and accountability
    11. Record keeping
    12. Editorial duties
    13. Spreading the results
    1. Meeting participation - While in attendance at committee meetings, the Administrative Advisor should serve as a resource familiar with the project’s objectives. The Administrative Advisor should strive to keep the activity’s research objectives as the focus of the meeting. An effective way to do this is to organize the meeting by the activity’s objectives. This also facilitates the preparation of the activity’s annual report by its objectives rather than Station by Station. (More on this point later.)

      The Administrative Advisor should monitor the activity’s progress towards its objectives and the activity’s research accomplishments. The Administrative Advisor should work to promote cooperation and maintain a team-effort approach. The Administrative Advisor should also make sure that the activity is doing effective, coordinated planning. In addition, the Administrative Advisor should provide updates to the activity’s participants on current regional and national activities relevant to the activity’s purposes. The CSREES representative should assist in this duty as well.

    2. Communication - The Administrative Advisor is responsible for maintaining open and good communications with the other Directors of the association on the progress (or lack thereof) of the activity to which he or she is assigned. The Administrative Advisor should inform the Directors of the region (and Directors not of the region who have participating scientists) when the project’s direction is drifting, or when problems become apparent.

      The Administrative Advisor also has a duty to provide to the committee direct and frequent information on any changes in Multistate Research policy or procedures, and particularly to work closely with the activity’s executive body on the organization, operation, and management of the project.

      The Administrative Advisor should encourage participating scientists to communicate with their own directors and department heads/chairs about the activity, its accomplishments, and expectations for future activities.

      The Administrative Advisor needs to keep information flowing to the other regional associations through their Executive Directors, and to the responsible Multistate Research program people in the USDA/CSREES Partnership Office.

      Here are some guidelines to help make decisions on who should get various communications from the Administrative Advisor.

      • Working documents: (e.g., working drafts of minutes, annual report drafts) should go to all of the ad hoc technical committee members, (i.e.,f not just the executive committee), and to the CSREES representative as well.
      • Documents prepared for association approval: (i.e., yet-to-be-approved project outlines) should go to the Chair of the MAC, with "carbon copies" to the members of the MAC, all association members, the Office of the Executive Director (OED), the CSREES representative, Directors of Stations outside the region with participating scientists, to administrators of units that (will) have participating scientists (e.g., ARS, 1890 institutions, Schools of Forestry), and to all committee members.
      • Association approved documents: (e.g., approved project outlines) should go to the CSREES Partnership Office, with "carbon copies" to the Office of the Executive Director (OED) and the CSREES representative. Other copies may be distributed as appropriate.
      • Project records: (e.g., meeting minutes, annual reports) should go to the CSREES Partnership Office, with "carbon copies" to the Office of the Executive Director (OED), all members of the technical committee, and the CSREES representative.

      The Office of the Executive Director has made a standing offer to facilitate these communications, if requested by an activity’s Administrative Advisor.

      Additionally, all of these correspondences are greatly facilitated by the National Information Management and Support System (NIMSS). This service is provided to each of the four geographical regional associations  Users of the system have expressed their appreciation for this innovation. All of the National Multistate Research Guidelines and customized exceptions for individual regional differences are directly reflected in NIMSS. Most operations are so automated that Administrative Advisors and SAES Directors are freed for attending to other duties. Project and committee member participants in the NIMSS are relieved of many otherwise burdensome tasksduties.

    3. Agenda setting - The Administrative Advisor is responsible for preparing the agenda (or at least causing the agenda to be prepared) for all announced meetings. As hinted earlier, many experienced Administrative Advisors strongly recommend that the meeting agenda be built around the project’s objectives. It is widely acknowledged that this type of agenda takes more time, but it is said to be clearly worth the investment. The reason is that scientists begin to think more about the activity’s objectives, and to focus on what they are trying to accomplish when the information is presented in an objective-oriented meeting. Administrative Advisors who have had a lot of experience with committee meetings are often very critical of agendas organized to give reports by state, or by discipline. A research-objective oriented agenda is much preferred.

    4. Resource monitoring - Another duty of the Administrative Advisor is to monitor the resource commitments to the activity. Some institutions commit salaries, technicians, travel and other operating expenses to a considerable degree to support scientists’ participation in a Multistate Research Project. Other institutions pledge a surprisingly small amount of scientific activity, usually noted in documents as 0.1 SYs. Such small commitments are not a good signal and are probably to be taken as lack of institutional commitment to that Multistate Research Project. Some institutions assign no scientist-salary for Multistate Research Projects, thus intentionally opening up considerable amounts of funding to support their scientists’ participation in Multistate Research Projects.

      The point of requiring full funding for Multistate Research Projects has been discussed on past occasions by many Directors. Some Directors have argued that minimum levels of support per SY should be set as a standard for participation in a project. Other Directors have proposed that a commitment in "real dollars" be made up-front (i.e., at the beginning of a project) to judge each Station’s commitment, and the likelihood of a project’s success.

      These arguments have been found to be divisive from several standpoints. None of the proposals seem realistic for a federation of autonomous institutions that is characterized by each Director’s freedom to operate independently. The allocation of funds to projects is a prerogative of the State Agricultural Experiment Station Director, and each Director may use a different strategy of funding his or her commitments. Thus, as noted earlier, when individual scientists voice complaints regarding the availability of funding when participating in a multistate activity, it is best for the Administrative Advisor to recommend to the scientist that he or she direct the question to his or her department head/chair or to the director of the Station where he or she is employed.

    5. Orientation - Administrative Advisors have a duty to provide an orientation to new members of Multistate Research Projects. The Administrative Advisor should be able to explain the Directors’ intent and degree of commitment to an activity, and the expectations that the Directors have for that activity. The Administrative Advisor should be able to spell-out the regional policies and procedures for Multistate Research management that can be very different among regions. For illustration, consider the situation where a scientist from one region with experience in Multistate Research Projects is invited to join a project in another region where policies and procedures can be sharply different. Thus, there is a need for the Administrative Advisor to provide new members an effective orientation. The Administrative Advisor is encouraged to use as reference material; the Hatch Manual (especially for legal information); the National Guidelines for Multistate Research, and the appropriate regional manuals that are prepared by the regional SAES directors Associations.

    6. Facilitate addenda - Another responsibility of the Administrative Advisor is for facilitating an addendum request. Addenda permit new members to join an activity. This is a time consuming process from some standpoints and can sometimes be even more demanding when the request is for participation by a non-Land-Grant institution (although experiences vary on this point). This often means that the Administrative Advisors must give extra follow-up attention to an addendum request by non-SAES administrators.

      When an Administrative Advisor receives a request from a Director to execute an addendum the Administrative Advisor must provide assurances that the addendum is consistent with project objectives and that the changes are accepted and consistent with the committee’s perspectives. The process is facilitated by NIMSS.

      Some technical committees may choose to vote on the question of admitting new members, and this can cause some difficulties for an Administrative Advisor, if the outcome excludes an otherwise bona fide scientist or specialist from participating. The practice of voting on new members seems to run counter to the philosophy of an open Federal-State partnership operating as a network of SAESs. Any decision to exclude prospective participant may raise significant questions throughout the Multistate Research system. Administrative Advisors need to be prepared to step into such situations and defuse the issue before it becomes a major point of contention.

    7. Monitor duplication - Administrative Advisors are expected to give close attention to the need to decrease unnecessary duplication of research activities. Administrative Advisors should always require a CRIS search before beginning the preparation of a project outline. This search should reveal information about any research activities in the same or similar areas, thus alerting the proposal drafting committee to potential duplication.

      The Administrative Advisor should encourage the technical committee to meet with other groups to explore common areas of interest, and perhaps identify any unnecessary overlaps. This effort can be supplemented by the CSREES representative, who should also be working to spot repetition within the system, and provide a national perspective to the evaluation.

    8. Meeting minutes - The Administrative Advisor should work with the committee in developing meeting minutes, which are subsequently reviewed by the Administrative Advisor, and then broadly distributed via NIMSS. But they are no longer required by the CSREES Partnership Office. Instead, CSREES requests that the SAES Form 422 be used to record the meeting’s decisions, and the activity’s accomplishments reported against its objectives ands milestones. However, the minutes are a useful mechanism for monitoring attendance of meetings and for judging what has been accomplished since the last meeting. Administrative Advisors should share the meeting minutes and annual reports broadly, to allow others to study them to see if needless research duplication exists. Again, this is facilitated by NIMSS.

    9. Annual report - The Administrative Advisor is also responsible for making sure that the activity’s annual report (SAES-422) is completed, broadly distributed, and officially deposited with the CSREES Partnership Office. This too needs to be reviewed by the Administrative Advisor to assess what has been accomplished since the last report and to make sure that an accurate documentation of the project’s achievements, outputs and impacts are being reported. Again, this responsibility is facilitated by NIMSS.

    10. Oversight and accountability - Administrative Advisors are responsible for providing accountability through several vehicles. Through his or her oversight the Administrative Advisor maintains a continuing assessment of the quality of the research being conducted.

      Some important items to be evaluated by the Administrative Advisor on an annual basis are the degree of research collaboration, as well as the progress being made by the project. The Administrative Advisor also needs to act as a liaison back to the sponsoring association to keep the member-Directors informed of the value of their investments in the activity.

      The Administrative Advisor has a duty to set deadlines for necessary activities, especially when those activities are required (e.g., SAES-422).

    11. Record keeping - A primary duty of the Administrative Advisor is in keeping excellent records, especially for all decisions that were made regarding an individual activity. The Administrative Advisor’s records are often the only reliable source of what has been decided. Good records prevent frustration and reduce needless repetition.

      One experienced Administrative Advisor has recommended that an Administrative Advisor’s notes should be prepared in a way that they can be readily passed on to the next Administrative Advisor. Given today’s seemingly rapid turnover of Administrative Advisors, this seems to be sound advice. Another helpful suggestion made by an Administrative Advisor was to organize the records by activities: such as 1) project outline preparation and approvals; 2) project membership; 3) meeting minutes; and 4) annual reports.

      It is interesting to note that the original processes for managing multistate activities were conceived and approved many years ago when the office of a State Agricultural Experiment Station Director typically had more staff resources available for managing Multistate Research Projects. This is no longer the case, and strong interest has been expressed for the help being provided by NIMSS. 

    12. Editorial duties - Another duty of an Administrative Advisor is to (at least) monitor the document writing process (e.g., drafting a Multistate Research Project outline or Multistate Coordinating Committee proposal, keeping meeting minutes, writing the annual SAES-422.) Oftentimes Administrative Advisors do not know the degree to which they should participate in document writing. Administrative Advisors should indicate their willingness to review drafts, and they should set aside time to help meet the various deadlines. In certain circumstances experienced Administrative Advisors have no qualm about becoming directly involved in the writing process, if nothing other than simply to get the job done.

    13. Spreading the results - Finally, there is a real need to get the results of the Multistate Research activities into the hands of the users. Every Multistate Research Project or Multistate Coordinating Committee should give strong consideration to how it will disseminate the results of its activities. Will it be done through electronic media? Will a partnership be formed with extension? Does industry need to be included? Should some outcome-oriented project objectives be developed? To better address how the activity’s research outcomes will be transferred for intended benefits, planning should begin at the proposal development stage. Fulfilling this obligation may require some up-front commitments.

    Fulfilling all these duties may represent to the new Administrative Advisor an overwhelming challenge. There is however one useful "trick" that is used by experienced Administrative Advisors for getting tasks done by a deadline. This "trick" is to plan backwards. This is done by identifying what needs to be done by a certain date, and then calculating the intermediate dates that will lead up to achieving that deadline. Each of the above duties of an Administrative Advisor can be approached in this manner.

    IX. PUBLICATION PROCEDURES

    There are two options for the publication of results of multistate activities.  Either option is appropriate, but NERA is encouraging the use of electronic publication as the desired procedure.

    A. Electronic Publications

    The Guidelines for Electronic Publishing are located at:

    http://www.agnr.umd.edu/users/NERA/

    B. Printed Publications

    1. Journal Articles or Individual In-State Publications:

      Journal articles or individual in-state publications reporting results of multistate research and originating as a result of that work within a single state or agency should be handled as appropriate for that entity except that each should carry a footnote essentially as follows,

      "This report is based, all or in part, upon research conducted and supported as a part of SAES Northeast Multistate Research Project NE-____."
    2. Regional SAES Bulletins, Books, etc.

      Printed bulletins and books and the like should have a similar acknowledgement contained in an appropriate location.

      1. Approval to Publish

        Prior to any effort to publish a manuscript the Administrative Advisor must obtain approval from NERA for a proposed budget. A written justification for requesting the funds should accompany the budget.

      2. Publication Responsibility

        Responsibility for the preparation of regional manuscripts rests with the technical committee.  The technical committee and the Administrative Advisor are responsible for obtaining peer review of the manuscript that is acceptable to the station or agency that will publish the manuscript.  Any USDA agency reviews necessitated by their involvement in the work are the responsibility of the technical committee.

      3. Selection of the Publishing Station

        The reviewed manuscript will be published by a single cooperating station.  Selection of the publishing institution normally should be based upon:  

        1. Location of senior author(s);
        2. Cost of publication; and,
        3. Time to effect publication and distribution.
      4. Duties of the AA.

        The duties of the Administrative Advisor are to:

        1. Contact the OED to notify them of the pending publication and title and the publishing institution publication number (if one is assigned).  [Note: The OED will request the International Standard Book Number (ISBN).]
        2. Determine the number of copies (including possible reserve copies) needed by the participating states and agencies and provide that information to the editor of the publishing institution.  A standard distribution to libraries may require approximately 300 copies.  The cost of these copies will be budgeted with the cost of publication.
        3. The cost of publication will be initially covered by the publishing institution, with that amount to be covered by off-the-top allocation from the next Hatch Act appropriation through NE-59. This needs to be coordinated through the OED.
        4. If the publishing SAES decides to distribute additional copies to libraries, they will be expected to cover the additional cost.
        5. Make the final decision in consultation with the editor of the publishing institution for the total number of copies to be printed.
      5. It is the responsibility of the publishing institution to:
        1. Provide for professional editing.
        2. Determine the number of copies needed for the institution's standard distribution.
        3. Determine the approximate cost per copy, including postage, with the total cost to be prorated among the participating stations and agencies.
        4. Send one copy of the publication to the OED.
      6. Format

        Manuscripts are to be prepared in accordance with guidelines for publication established by the publishing institution.

        The cover should clearly identify the publication as a regional publication. The NERA logotype incorporating the words:

        "A Northeastern Multistate Research Publication"

        should appear on or inside the front cover.  This approved logotype has been used on Region reports previously, and it is periodically updated.  Contact the OED (NERA@umail.umd.edu) for a copy of the logotype.  Near to the logotype should be printed a list of the states and agencies cooperating in the specific project described in the report.

        On page 2 or 4 (the inside front cover or the back of the title page) each publication should display a complete list of the Northeastern Regional State Agricultural Experiment Stations and USDA cooperating agencies, listed in full official name along with the ISDN number.  The following statement should appear on the title page, footnoted to title:

        Under the procedure of cooperative publication, this multistate report becomes, in effect, an identical publication of each of the participating experiment stations and agencies and is mailed under the indicia of each.

      7. Summary of Sequence (Responsible Party is Given in Parentheses):
        1. Obtain NERA approval to publish, and agreement on the cost.
        2. Write manuscript and review (technical committee and Administrative Advisor).
        3. Select publishing institution (Administrative Advisor and technical committee).
        4. Notify OED regarding pending publication (Administrative Advisor).
        5. Edit manuscript (publishing institution).
        6. Determine number of copies needed by each station and agency (Administrative Advisor).
        7. Estimate per copy cost, including postage, based on estimated number of copies needed (i.e., 1000, 2000, etc.) (publishing institution).
        8. Make final decision on number of copies (Administrative Advisor and editor).

        9. Publish (publishing institution).
        10. Distribute according to decision in “7” above (publishing institution).
        11. Submit bill for publication costs to OED.
        12. Send one copy of the publication to the OED (publishing institution).  

    APPENDIX A

    FAQs From Administrative Advisors and SAES Directors

    1. How do I manage Multistate Research funds?
    2. How can I get money for a publication?
    3. When and where should project meetings occur?
    4. How do I call a project meeting?
    5. How do I invoice Stations for shared activities?
    6. How can I get a small sum of funds for paying legitimate expenses associated with a project or committee?
    7. What guidance should I give to a committee meeting?
    8. What do I need to know about taking meeting minutes?
    9. What do I need to do about annual reporting?
    10. Do I need to report project expenditures?
    11. How do I judge a project's health?
    12. Are there any fixes available for a sick activity?
    13. What do I do when a project comes up for termination?
    14. How long does it take to renew an activity?

    In everyday life it always seems that there is an easy way to get things done. This may be especially true in research management and the following points may provide helpful hints to some frequently asked questions (FAQs) on how an Administrative Advisor and SAES Directors can get things done:

    1. How do I manage Multistate Research funds?

      As noted elsewhere, 25 percent of the Hatch funds are allocated to the Multistate Research Fund by CSREES and distributed to each eligible Station as a specific allocation. The distribution of this allocation, and the required matching with non-Federal funds is done by the Directors in each of the Stations, and therefore it is necessary for the Administrative Advisor to encourage members of his or her technical committee to communicate with their respective Directors at the outset of the project, and annually thereafter, on the resources that will be necessary for participating in a Multistate Research Project. There is also the additional need for the Administrative Advisor to encourage Multistate Research Project scientists to obtain funding from other sources, beyond the Multistate Research funding. Seeking outside funding for a multistate activity is often the difference between success and failure for a project.

      As mentioned elsewhare, it is the responsibility of the Administrative Advisor to diffuse complaints on the amount of funding allocated to project participants inasmuch as this is really an issue for the employing Station Director to address. In all cases the Administrative Advisor must follow this procedure as all funding decisions are done at the Station level, with the exception of any off-the-top funding.

    2. How can I get money for a publication?

      Interestingly, some Administrative Advisors get caught up in the apparent complexity of having publications paid for by the Multistate Research Fund. The process is, in reality, not at all that complicated, if you do certain things in sequence. The preferred sequence is:

      1. Before making any financial commitment, get an estimate of the cost of the publication and request the Association’s approval for the publication (through the Multistate Activities Committee).
      2. Once approval is obtained from the Association, the Station sponsoring the publication moves ahead with publication and makes payment for the publication from any discretionary source, to be repaid later.
      3. The copy of the paid invoice is then submitted to the Chair of the MAC two weeks prior to the summer meeting (the preferred timing).
      4. An "off-the-top" allocation from the Multistate Research Fund is then approved to be paid at the beginning of the next Federal Fiscal Year (October 1).

      A high-risk approach to seeking reimbursement is to skip the approval step, and publish the document as a Multistate Research publication, hoping that once it is published approval can be obtained from the Association. Don’t bet on it! And it is highly unlikely that some other source (like CSREES) will provide any reimbursement.

    3. 3. When and where should project meetings occur?

      Committee meetings are called at the discretion of the Administrative Advisor.  Care should be exercised, however, to avoid appearances for a high cost of travel, or for using poor judgement on luxury locations. But this caveat should not be taken to preclude choosing a location that might be overseas, or very remote.  Some meeting are very successful because of the distant location.  A few years ago NE132 met in the Netherlands to exchange research information with European faculty on manure management.  The meeting was judged to be very successful.  More recently NE1006 plans to meet in St. Catherines, Ontario to collaborate with Canadian researchers on an outbreak of Plum Pox virus disease.  Additionally, some locations are suitable because they are convenient and/or cheap.

    4. 4. How do I call a project meeting?

      All Multistate Research Project meetings must be authorized by the Administrative Advisor who sends out notices to all NERA Directors; other non-NE Directors (i.e., those having scientists participating); other agencies, institutions, and invited guests; all Executive Directors; as well as, the CSREES Partnership Office. This has now been automated for you through NIMSS.

      A project meeting should be called when necessary to coordinate, review, plan or discuss activities. Meetings are usually held annually, and they should help to critically review and evaluate progress, plan future activities, report on publications, and analyze data and results. On occasions, special meetings may be called when necessary and justified. However, individual Station policies may limit participation by scientists to one meeting per year. This may also be true for non-SAES scientists as well. This point should be considered when contemplating the calling of special meetings.

      Some meetings may be designated as inter-regional or even held jointly with other projects, both within and external to the region. The primary purpose of holding such meetings must be for research coordination.

      It is advisable to plan one and a half days for a project meeting, allocated as one day for presenting results and reviewing information by research objectives, and a second half day for planning-by-objectives for future activities.

      Experienced Administrative Advisors have recommended that Multistate Research Project meetings be held independent of other activities. Sometimes it is suggested that it would be good to schedule a meeting with some other activity, such as an annual meeting of a professional society. This is generally said to be a bad idea as individuals become distracted by the other events and, as a consequence, interest and attention levels become low, attendance is usually poorer, and participants are said to be too tired to fully participate. This problem is especially bad, it is said, for projects meeting in conjunction with a national professional society meeting, as regional and disciplinary attendances can become skewed, and the cost of attending the meeting may be greater as a consequence of the larger meeting facilities, which often command a premium.

      There are instances when meeting jointly with another organization maybe worthwhile. If the purpose is to identify a speaker who would not otherwise attend, or perhaps gain some other clear advantage by the linking, then joint meetings maybe justified. It is however a general rule that joint meetings are a bad idea, especially if it is just for the convenience of venue.

    5. 5. How do I invoice Stations for shared activities?

      The NERA policy on sharing costs for services or support is that they should not be billed to the NERA directors or to the Directors of participating scientists. The only process that is approved for sharing costs is to bill the participants of the activity directly. Examples are: Centrally prepared potato seed, support staff for maintaining an activity’s web page; and sharing the costs for a centrally administered survey.

    6. How can I get a small sum of funds for paying legitimate expenses associated with a project or committee?

      For small sums of money some activities charge a registration fee slightly greater than the cost of having a meeting. They then use the balance to pay for activities that are directly related to the project or committee’s needs. Although justified, such practice does leave open questions of impropriety. Administrative Advisors should oversee such “registration fee” strategies very carefully. In any event, invoicing participating SAES directors, or the regional association of SAES directors, will not provide any funding to a project or committee. That is the policy.

    7. What guidance should I give to a committee meeting?

      The Administrative Advisor must take direct responsibility for at least helping to set the agenda (done with the technical committee’s chair and the USDA/CSREES representative, if the Administrative Advisor is not doing it directly). This self-initiative is needed primarily for timeliness, as well as the need to insist that the agenda’s organization addresses the objectives of the Multistate Research Project. This is not to say that the Chair or the Executive Committee of the project (no matter how it is organized) should be excluded from the decision making process. It is just that the Administrative Advisor must not let so much time pass that a poorly organized or poorly attended meeting will result.

      Care must be taken to schedule time for planning new activities (by the project’s objective) and to carefully review and evaluate the progress that is being made. The Administrative Advisor can draft an agenda for response from others, incorporate their ideas, and revise the agenda. Simply waiting for others to initiate the process of agenda setting does not work, in most cases. The Administrative Advisor must take responsibility for this activity.

      Sometimes it is worthwhile for the Administrative Advisor to give consideration to inviting a special guest speaker. This individual might be someone from a complimentary scientific discipline; an expert on an important and relevant topic; or some other source of information that may be inspiring or informative to the technical committee’s member-scientists. When this is done it is often paid for by charging participants a registration fee sufficient to cover the expense of the special speaker (see previous Q & A). General agreement should be sought on the invitation by the Administrative Advisor, but not to the point of jeopardizing the acceptance by delays.

    8. What do I need to know about taking meeting minutes?

      It is no longer required under the provisions of the National Multistate Research Guidelines that minutes of all Multistate Research Project meetings be prepared.  However, it is a good idea to keep minutes, even if just the attendance and decisions made. This record keeping can be done through NIMSS, as content in the SAES-422. It is expected that the Administrative Advisor will oversee this requirement and additionally distribute them to the OED.

      Additional Note: The minutes of an activity’s meeting are an important record of all decisions that have been made. They can also be used to record the consensus that is developed by the project’s participants. The Administrative Advisor can use the minutes to study patterns of poor attendance, which should be followed up with a phone call from the Administrative Advisor to ask why the "no shows" did not attend. Encouragement should be given to them to attend future meetings, or at least identify the conflicts contributing to their poor attendance.

    9. What do I need to do about annual reporting?

      Filing a completed SAES-422 fulfills the CSREES requirements for the annual report. Previously the annual report was submitted separately from the meeting minutes. SAES-422 has combined these two reporting requirements into one report.

    10. Do I need to report project expenditures?

      Multistate Research funds expended by each Station must be reported annually on Form AD-419, which is due at CRIS by February 1. Check the CRIS website for the updated schedule ( http://cris.csrees.usda.gov/reports/schedule.html ).  This is done by the participating Station Directors. Follow-up by the project’s Administrative Advisor is admittedly difficult inasmuch as he or she is almost always out of the reporting "loop."

    11. How do I judge a project's health?

      As in any human endeavor, some projects are healthier than are others. Identifying a weak Multistate Research Project or Coordinating Committee is the responsibility of the Administrative Advisor, inasmuch as he or she is in the best position to decide whether an activity is too sick to continue. There are some vital signs that can be taken by the Administrative Advisor to check a project’s health status.

      • Attendance patterns by participating scientists, the Administrative Advisor, and the CSREES Representative are strong indicators of the project’s health. When attendance begins to decline a clear warning sign should be recognized by the Administrative Advisor and the causes quickly identified.
      • The Administrative Advisor should be in a position to judge the practical worth of Multistate Research Project or Multistate Coordinating Committee. If it is not worthwhile, consideration should be given to either redirection or termination.
      • Another indicator of a Multistate Research Project or Multistate Coordinating Committee’s health is the willingness and success of individual participating scientists in seeking additional financial support for the activities of the activity. As noted earlier, supplemental funding is often key to a project’s success.
      • Publications are another indication of an activity’s success, and the patterns of authorship of these publications will indicate the degree of collaboration that is taking place within the activity. Independent activities are often reflected in single-authored publications, and this should be taken as a warning sign.

      When a Director is assigned a Multistate Research Project as the new Administrative Advisor it is strongly recommended that she or he review the project’s history, especially with the former Administrative Advisor and with the CSREES Representative. The new Administrative Advisor should evaluate previous decisions that have been made, and check to see if the objectives match the priorities and the plans of the Multistate Research Project or Coordinating Committee. Unhealthy projects often are not on target with respect to their objectives.

      Sound judgment by the Administrative Advisor is often necessary to either regain the activity’s health, or to perform the actions necessary to end its life.

    12. Are there any fixes available for a sick activity?
      If you, an Administrative Advisor, are confronting some difficult choices regarding the health of an activity, it is sometimes advisable to call in additional expertise for their advice. This could be done through an external review commissioned by CSREES or by NERA. The review team’s terms of reference could be: to assess the quality of science; to evaluate the accomplishments of the project; or to look at the project’s management, to see what the problems are, and to recommend solutions.

      It is the responsibility of the Administrative Advisor to be the "eyes and ears" of the Region’s Directors, as the Administrative Advisor is the person in the best position to decide if a project is in trouble and if troubled, the Administrative Advisor should initiate some corrective action. Ignoring obvious difficulties in a Multistate Research Project or Coordinating Committee serves no purpose.

    13. What do I do when a project comes up for termination?
      A Multistate Research Project normally has a life of five years with the scheduled termination on September 30 (i.e., the end of the Federal Fiscal Year). This scheduled termination is automatic unless some intervention is exercised. Interventions, as noted earlier, may be a request to revise, or to terminate an activity early.

      It is the Administrative Advisor’s responsibility, when an activity is scheduled for termination, to see that a final SAES-422 report is prepared that summarize the accomplishments of an activity. The Administrative Advisor may oversee the arrangements for this SAES-422 termination report, or he or she may become directly involved in its preparation.

      The SAES-422 termination report should, in effect, communicate a project’s research achievements measured as results, outcomes, impacts, and benefits to a project’s sponsors and stakeholders. These measures should reflect the resource investments that have been expended on the Multistate Research Project. Careful attention to this requirement is the responsibility of the Administrative Advisor.

      NIMSS will greatly facilitate the reporting of the activity’s accomplishments, but gathering the information and getting it entered is still a major task. The Administrative Advisor is in the best position to have the motivation and the authority to initiate such an activity.

    14. How long does it take to renew an activity?

      A successful activity (either a formal project or coordinating committee) may want to renew itself, with a new set of objectives (this presumes you were successful in completing the last set of objectives). To renew a formal Multistate Research Project a new project proposal must be developed and approved. This takes about 18 to 20 months (See Appendix D), and thus early starts are necessary to avoid last minute crushes. Before beginning to draft a renewal a “request to write” must be approved by NERA the membership. Renewals of a Multistate Research Project must include a "Critical Review", which summarizes the accomplishments of the current activities.

      Multistate Coordinating Committees usually take less time to renew, but starting a year in advance of an activity’s termination is recommended. To initiate the process the Administrative Advisor should obtain agreement from the committee that they wish to renew. Then a request to write needs to be approved by the association. From there the process goes from proposal development to peer review, and finally NERA membership approval.

      Many of these processes are facilitated by NIMSS, and electronic reviews and approvals are acceptable. However, in the most usual cases the NERA members want to review and approve projects and committees at their winter meeting, for initiation the next October 1. Working backward a Multistate Research Project’s renewal should thus begin in the middle of its third year, and a Multistate Coordinating Committee should begin the process before the end of its fourth year. Leaving the renewal process to the ending months of an activity will usually result in its termination. Being late and then requesting an extension to allow for drafting a renewal proposal will be denied by NERA. Extensions of projects are allowed only for completing an activity’s objectives.

    15.  

    APPENDIX B

    FAQs from Participants

    1. How do I start a new project?
    2. What’s the difference between a project and a committee?
    3. Who pays for the activity?
    4. How does a meeting get planned?
    5. How do we renew our activity?
    6. What are the reporting requirements?
    7. Why do we need to fill out the CRIS Forms?
    8. Can I join an on-going activity?
    9. May I join a projector activity in another region?
    10. How do I quit an activity?
    11. Why do all of the activities have an Administrative Advisor?
    12. Why do the region’s SAES Directors have an association?
    13. How does a university get credit for its integrated activities?
    14. Why did the U.S. Congress change the multistate research rules in 1998?
    15. Where can I find the national multistate research guidelines?
    16. Why does a project proposal need to be peer reviewed?
    1. How do I start a new project?

      First, contact a NERA director to enlist his or her support, if you are not a NERA director. Second, request permission to draft a proposal. This can be done on-line at http://www.lgu.umd.edu   The rest flows from those initial steps.

    2. What’s the difference between a project and a committee?

      Multistate Research Projects (MRPs) are formal activities that track expenditures and require rigorous reporting of progress. Multistate Coordinating Committees (MCCs) are less formal activities that do not qualify for funding, with the exception of funding for travel to approved meetings. And the reporting is less rigorous for MCCs.

    3. Who pays for the activity?

      Participants in a Multistate Research Project or a multistate coordinating committee activity always provide their own funding for what ever they plan to do. The participant’s employing institution may supplement a participant’s budget. Or participants in an activity may collaborate to seek a grant.

    4. How does a meeting get planned?

      First, the Administrative Advisor must issue a meeting authorization. This formality is necessary to inform other directors of an approved meeting. Usually, to assist the Administrative Advisor, the activity’s chair sets out a plan for the meeting’s time and venue, blocks hotel rooms, and gathers information on transportation. Importantly, a survey of each participant’s availability to meet at that time and location should precedes any meeting announcement.

    5. How do we renew our activity?

      A successful activity may want to renew itself, with a new set of objectives (this presumes you were successful in completing the last set of objectives). To renew an activity a new proposal must be developed and approved. This takes up to 18 months, and thus early starts are necessary to avoid last minute crushes. Renewals of a Multistate Research Project must include a “Critical Review”, which summarizes the accomplishments of the current activities.

    6. What are the reporting requirements?

      In addition to each SAES completing Forms 416 and 417 at the initiation of a project or activity, each station must annually complete Forms 419 and 421, plus the project or activity must submit an SAES-422, which can be done through the National Information Management and Support System (see http://www.lgu.umd.edu)

    7. Why do we need to fill out the CRIS Forms?

      USDA reporting requirements allow CSREES to report research outlays to Congress and the White House, and research managers to track activities regionally and nationally. The organization of the database is by projects, which allows considerable independence for scientists, but with the tradeoff of the reporting requirements.

    8. Can I join an on-going activity?

      Yes, with the approval of your SAES director. For non-SAES-employed individuals approval of their administrative supervisor is sufficient as a first step. To initiate joining an activity, your SAES director will submit an “addendum” using the NIMSS. Non-SAES individuals should seek the assistance of the Administrative Advisor to complete this step.

      Current participants are not asked to "vote" on a request to join an activity, but requesting the concurrence with the Administrative Advisor is a common courtesy. The only condition is that a new participant must address one or more of the existing objectives. Creation of new objectives is not a possibility since it would require revision of the project/activity proposal. That is not a consideration.

    9. May I join a projector activity in another region?

      Yes, you may. And in fact, it is strongly encouraged. The process is to discuss your interest with your SAES director or equivalent administrator and request your administrator to contact the project/activity’s Administrative Advisor. The best time to join is during the formation or renewal of a project or activity, but joining a project or activity in progress in your region or in another region is okay.

    10. How do I quit an activity?

      Although this only rarely occurs, simply contact your SAES director (or equivalent) and report that you no longer wish to contribute to a project or activity. The best window for ending participation occurs on September 30 each year. But if an earlier date is needed, cancellation forms must be filed by your administrator.

    11. Why do all of the activities have an Administrative Advisor?

      The regional associations of SAES directors sponsor their Multistate portfolio of activities for specific purposes, and to comply with Federal requirements. To facilitate implementation an Administrative Advisor represents the association at all meetings, and oversees all interim activities and reporting.

    12. Why do the region’s SAES Directors have an association?

      Federal law requires each SAES to devote 25% of their Hatch Act formula funds to multistate research activities. To plan, implement and report the achievements from these activities each region has in place an association of SAES directors. An Office of the Executive Director facilitates the association’s activities.

    13. How does a university get credit for its integrated activities?

      Gaining credit for accomplishments is vital in this time of accountability. To get credit multistate research activities depend on the USDA’s Current Research Information System (CRIS) and other sources of information to prepare annual reports to USDA on results and accomplishments. Completing the required forms is essential for getting this credit. And getting credit is important to getting additional funding.

    14. Why did the U.S. Congress change the multistate research rules in 1998?

      There seems to be a feeling in some circles that the Land Grant Universities (LGU) are not substantially fulfilling their mission as functionally integrated and practically applied institutions. As contributors to the Federal-State partnership, Congress is well positioned to set out new expectations, through Farm Bill legislation. LGUs are responding through new activities and procedures designed to address Congressional concerns.

    15. Where can I find the national multistate research guidelines?

      Go to:    http://www.escop.msstate.edu/draftdoc.htm
      For the National IMSS go to:    http://www.lgu.umd.edu

    16. Why does a project proposal need to be peer reviewed?

      Federal rules require that all federally funded research activities be peer reviewed. There are no exceptions.

    APPENDIX C

    Administrative Advisor's Duties

    1. Meeting participation
    2. Communication
    3. Agenda setting
    4. Resource Monitoring
    5. Orientation
    6. Facilitate addenda
    7. Monitor duplication
    8. Meeting Minutes
    9. Annual report
    10. Oversight and accountability
    11. Record keeping
    12. Editorial duties
    13. Spreading the results

    FAQs From Administrative Advisors and SAES Directors

    1. How do I manage Multistate Research funds?
    2. How can I get money for a publication?
    3. When and where should project meetings occur?
    4. How do I call a project meeting?
    5. How do I invoice Stations for shared activities?
    6. How can I get a small sum of funds for paying legitimate expenses associated with a project or committee?
    7. What guidance should I give to a committee meeting?
    8. What do I need to know about taking meeting minutes?
    9. What do I need to do about annual reporting?
    10. Do I need to report project expenditures?
    11. How do I judge a project's health?
    12. Are there any fixes available for a sick activity?
    13. What do I do when a project comes up for termination?
    14. How long does it take to renew an activity?

    FAQs from Participants

    1. How do I start a new project?
    2. What’s the difference between a project and a committee?
    3. Who pays for the activity?
    4. How does a meeting get planned?
    5. How do we renew our activity?
    6. What are the reporting requirements?
    7. Why do we need to fill out the CRIS Forms?
    8. Can I join an on-going activity?
    9. May I join a projector activity in another region?
    10. How do I quit an activity?
    11. Why do all of the activities have an Administrative Advisor?
    12. Why do the region’s SAES Directors have an association?
    13. How does a university get credit for its integrated activities?
    14. Why did the U.S. Congress change the multistate research rules in 1998?
    15. Where can I find the national multistate research guidelines?
    16. Why does a project proposal need to be peer reviewed?

    Timetable for Project and Committee Renewal

    Time Line Year 1 Year 2
    NERA Meeting Winter Summer Fall Winter Summer   Oct 1
      Request to write  followed by Drafting Committee Formation Drafting of the Proposal Peer Review and Proposal Revisions. Review by MAC and NERA Approval Second opportunities for NERA Approval CSREES Review and Approval Starting Date

    [1] The contributions of Western Region Executive Director Robert Heil are gratefully acknowledged.

    [2] Previous to the 1998 AREERA (Farm Bill) this fund was called the Multistate Research Fund, and the activities Multistate Research. The 1998 change made by the Farm Bill seeks to connote less regional emphasis and more a national framework for multi-institutional collaborations.

    [3] Past experience has shown that trying to complete the development of an approved project in less than two years is next to impossible. However, should less that two years be available please contact the Office of the NERA Executive Director for assistance.