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National Research Initiative: A Vital Competitive Grants Program in Food, Fiber, and Natural-Resources Research Table of Contents     EXECUTIVE SUMMARY   1      History of Competitive Research at the USDA,   2      Organization,   2      Study Process,   3      Status of the National Research Initiative,   4      NRI’s Mission,   4      Research Accountability,   5      Priority Setting and Organization,   7      Funding,   11      A National Food, Fiber, and Natural Resources Research Complex,   14 1.   INTRODUCTION   15      Brief History of Competitive Research at USDA,   16      NRI Organization,   19      Prior Reviews of the NRI,   19      Study Process,   20      Overview of Report,   20

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National Research Initiative: A Vital Competitive Grants Program in Food, Fiber, and Natural-Resources Research 2.   VALUE OF FOOD, FIBER, AND NATURAL-RESOURCES RESEARCH   21      Economic Contributions,   22      Rates of Return from Food and Fiber Research,   23      Impacts of Advances in Life Sciences,   25      Public-Sector and Private-Sector Research Funding,   26 3.   THE NATIONAL RESEARCH INITIATIVE COMPETITIVE GRANTS PROGRAM   29      Quality and Value,   30      Measuring the Quality and Value of NRI-Supported Research,   31      Novelty and Significance of Research,   35      Fairness,   36      The NRI Peer Review Process,   36      Evaluation of NRI Peer Review Process,   38      Relevance and Responsiveness,   39      Summary Findings,   40 4.   ROLE AND SCOPE OF THE NRI PROGRAM   41      Scientific Objectives,   42      Applied versus Fundamental Research,   42      Multidisciplinary Research,   59      Training and Education,   45      Developing Future Scientists,   45      Strengthening Academic Institutions in the Food and Fiber System,   46      Enhancing Public Understanding,   47      Complementarity,   48      Other USDA-Funded Research Programs,   48      Intramural Research,   48      Formula Funds,   49      Special Grants,   49      Other Competitive Grants in USDA,   50      Complementarity of NRI in USDA,   51      Other Federal Programs,   52      National Science Foundation,   52      National Institutes of Health,   53      Department of Energy,   53      Interagency Programs,   54      Complementarity of NRI with other Federal Programs,   55      Industry and the NRI,   56      Summary Findings,   56      Scientific Objectives,   56      Training and Education,   56      Complementarity,   57

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National Research Initiative: A Vital Competitive Grants Program in Food, Fiber, and Natural-Resources Research 5.   PRIORITIES AND PRIORITY-SETTING AT THE NRI   58      Process,   59      Overview of USDA Priority-Setting Process,   59      NRI Priority-Setting Process,   59      Analysis of NRI Priority-Setting Process,   60      NRI Research Priorities,   61      Funding History of the NRI’s Six Divisions,   61      History of NRI Research Programs,   66      Analysis,   66      Research Opportunities,   69      Summary Findings,   69      Priority-Setting Process,   69      Research Priorities,   71 6.   ORGANIZATIONAL AND FUNDING ISSUES   73      Organizational Issues,   74      Location in USDA,   74      NRI Governance,   77      Chief Scientist,   77      Board of Directors,   78      Organization,   78      Funding Issues,   80      Total NRI Funding,   80      Size and Length of Grants,   81      Overhead Rates,   84      Summary Findings,   85      Organization,   85      Funding,   85 7.   RECOMMENDATIONS   87      The NRI’s Mission,   88      Research Accountability,   89      Priority-Setting and Organization,   90      Funding,   97      Summary of Recommendations,   100     Appendixes         A.   Section 1615 of the Food, Agriculture, Conservation and Trade Act of 1990   103     B.   Survey on the US Department of Agriculture’s National Research Initiative (NRI) Competitive Grants Program   108     C.   External Views of the NRI   112     D.   Outline for Interviews (June 16, 1998) with USDA Professional Staff on Internal Workings of the NRI Program   141

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National Research Initiative: A Vital Competitive Grants Program in Food, Fiber, and Natural-Resources Research     E.   Committee Members’ Experience with the National Research Initiative, the National Institutes of Health, and the National Science Foundation   146     F.   NRI Applications Funded   147     G.   Contributions of NRI to Major Scientific Advances in Food, Fiber, and Natural-Resources System   148     H.   Research Needs in Food, Fiber, and Natural Resources   170     I.   Grant Performance Follow-on for Quality Evaluation   181     References   182     About the Authors   185

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National Research Initiative: A Vital Competitive Grants Program in Food, Fiber, and Natural-Resources Research Tables, Figures, and Boxes TABLES Table 2–1   Aggregate Returns on Public Investments in Agricultural Research and Extension   24 Table 4–1   NRI Support of Postdoctoral Researchers   46 Table 4–2   Skills and Items Affected by Acquired Grant   47 Table 5–1   Summary of Congressionally-Mandated High-Priority Research Areas (1990)   63 Table 5–2   NRI Research Divisions and Stakeholders’ Needs   64 Table 5–3   Committee’s List of Emerging Research Issues   70 Table 6–1   NRI Funding Levels, 1991 to 1998   81 Table 6–2   History of Funding for Food, Fiber, and Natural-Resources Research in the USDA (in millions of dollars)   82 FIGURES Figure 2–1   Food, Fiber, and Natural-Resources Research Expenditures in the United States, 1960–1996   27 Figure 2–2   Research Expenditures by Food and Fiber Industries 1960 and 1996   28 Figure 5–1   Congressional Appropriations for NRI Divisions and Special Initiatives, 1991–1997   64 Figure 5–2   NRI Programs, 1987–1998 (Gantt Chart)   67 Figure 6–1   Organization of Research at the US Department of Agriculture   75 Figure 6–2   Competitive Research Grants and Awards Management   76 Figure 6–3   National Research Initiative Competitive Grants Program Organization   79 Figure 7–1   Recommended Organization of USDA Research, Education, and Economics Mission Area   93 Figure 7–2   Recommended Organization of USDA Extramural Competitive Research Service (New NRI)   96 BOXES Box 3–1   Ethanol from Biomass: An Example of a Significant Scientific Advancement from NRI Research   32 Box 3–2   Porcine Reproductive and Respiratory Syndrome: An Example of a Significant Scientific Advancement from NRI Research   34 Box 3–3   Reduction in Fertilizer Use Profits Farmers and the Environment: An Example of NRI Research with Great Promise   35 Box 3–4   Rules and Guidelines for Panel Composition   37 Box 4–1   Is It Basic or Is It Applied?   43

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