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Integrated Reporting System FAQs

Archived Content

In an effort to keep nifa.usda.gov current, the archive contains outdated information that may not reflect current policy or programs.

FAQ Table of Contents with Links

 


NIFA's New Integrated Research and Extension Reporting System

Why is NIFA building a new grants management and reporting system? 

The Panel of Experts, composed of representatives from NIFA and the Land-Grant Universities (LGUs), requested that NIFA streamline reporting requirements to reduce the burden on grantees and integrate research and extension reporting applications into one system. With close collaboration from our LGU partners, NIFA is building the NIFA Reporting System (NRS) to better showcase how NIFA and the LGUs are working together to advance agricultural research and extension across the nation. NIFA is reducing burden on grantees by eliminating data collections that are not required by law or needed by NIFA for regulatory or informational purposes, eliminating duplicative requests for data, and using technology to reduce the overall effort of entering and processing data.

NIFA is also replacing the aging technology of the current reporting applications because it will not be able to meet the new features requested by the Panel, satisfy security requirements, or keep pace with delivery goals within the grant and reporting cycles. We are modernizing and better integrating other grants management functions across NIFA to create a more seamless experience for our partner institutions and awardees. The new technology will allow NIFA to bring almost all of NIFA's programs into one unified system that is capable of rapidly delivering new features to our user community.

How is NIFA developing the new grants management and reporting system—the NIFA Reporting System (NRS)?

NIFA is collaborating with representatives from our partner institutions who are frequent users of our systems.  Because our customers are members of the planning and design teams, we are confident the NRS will meet NIFA's needs and be a valuable asset to our stakeholders for many years into the future. When completed, it will have sophisticated search capabilities, informative dashboards, and the capacity to share data with other internal and external data systems. Because security is built in and automated, we will seldom need to take the system offline for maintenance and repairs, helping to ensure the system is available when people need it.

New information technology systems typically take several years to design, build, and release. In a traditional approach, the design-build-test cycle occurs out of the view of users. To ensure that NRS meets the needs of NIFA and our users, NIFA has chosen to involve users in the design, building, and testing of each module. Modules are designed around statutory requirements and function.

Will everyone use the new integrated system, NRS, going forward?

Everyone who currently uses the NIFA Reporting Portal (REEport, Leadership Management Dashboard (LMD), or Institutional Profile) will gradually transition to NRS. The transition to NRS begins with capacity-funded programs followed by competitive projects and programs. NIFA added the first dedicated module for describing Extension programs (Smith-Lever 3(b) & 3(c) and 1890 Extension) in September 2020. The Research initiation module is scheduled for release in May 2021, which will incorporate initiations for Hatch, Hatch Multistate, and Evans-Allen. NIFA will incorporate the remaining capacity funds (Animal Health, RREA, and McIntire-Stennis) soon after this release.

How does an LGU community member access the new integrated system?

Visit the NIFA Reporting System page on NIFA’s website and click on the “Launch” button. The “Launch” button will take you to NRS after logging in to your eAuthentication account. If you do not have an eAuthentication account, you will need to register, complete identity verification, and obtain a role from your Organizational Administrator.  See the eAuthentication section for more information

How does the new technology help to reduce reporting burden?

NRS reduces the burden of reporting by being user-friendly, intuitive, and easy to navigate. NIFA is working hard to reduce the duplicative requests for data. Where possible, NIFA will eliminate requests for estimated data. Data that are not required by law or are not used for informational purposes will be put forward to NIFA leadership for retirement.

Dashboards in NRS make it easy to manage Critical Issues, Projects and Programs, User Roles, and Reporting. Upon logging in, users will see tiles arranged by function and their level of access. The tiles make it easy to complete grants management and reporting tasks. Information for each task will be linked in dashboards with helpful filters and search features. For example, when an Extension Program is added, it is linked it to the Critical Issues dashboard, making it easy to see a quick summary of activity under each Critical Issues.

It also allows users across the organization to open a drill-down report of each program. In the future, NIFA will include a results feature that will roll up as the primary content for progress reports and the Annual Report of Accomplishments and Results. Compiling the Annual Report will simply be a matter of indicating on a dashboard which results institutions want to highlight to NIFA, while automatically cataloging a comprehensive list of projects and programs with their results for reference. This technology shifts the focus to maintaining project and program results and away from manually compiling records and entering data into an annual report. Also, because Critical Issues and results can be updated throughout the reporting period, the reports can become an easy checkpoint to review and focus on quality.

What changes are expected in this latest release for the new integrated system scheduled for May 2021?

The May 2021 release will include the new Research Project module. Specific features include:

  • Ability to add Research Project descriptions (initiations)
  • Ability to create, save a draft, edit, and view Research projects and Extension programs
  • Ability to conduct organizational reviews of Research projects and Extension programs
  • New roles to support Research project initiations—Project Director, Assistant Organizational Administrator, and View Only
  • Ability for NIFA to approve Research projects 
  • Migration of active Research projects and PD records from REEport (initially only those with Critical Issues associated and ending after September 30th.) 
  • Retirement of the ability to initiate Hatch, Hatch Multistate, and Evans-Allen projects in REEport 

Following this release, we will continue to develop and add more features to enhance functionality.

What will change about Hatch Multistate projects initiated in NRS?

Connecting NRS to the National Information Management and Support System (NIMSS) that reviews Hatch Multistate Research Fund projects will be a top priority after the initial release of the research initiation module. In the interim, you should enter your NIMSS project number and the name of the objective(s) associated with your project in the Multistate description. 

Why are LGUs being asked to describe multistate and integrated activities within Extension programs and Research projects?

Land-Grant Universities that receive Hatch, Hatch Multistate, Evans-Allen, Smith-Lever 3(b) & 3(c), and 1890 Extension funds are required by law to use some of the funds for multistate and integrated Research projects and Extension programs. The 1862 Land-Grant Universities have an additional requirement to allocate a minimum percentage of their Hatch and Smith-Lever dollars to multistate and integrated efforts. Indicating that a project contributes to this requirement is a first step in eliminating the OGFM Supplemental form.

How do LGU community members stay informed about the changes to the reporting system?

Sign-up to receive information, schedules, and updates about the POW-REEport Integration Project. You can subscribe by sending an email message to pow@usda.gov (link sends e-mail). Insert the following text on the subject line: "Request to Sign Up for POW  Notifications." You will receive an email confirming your subscription.

What will happen to REEport? 

REEport will remain active until all reporting functionality has transitioned to NRS. AREERA-funded programs (Hatch, Hatch Multistate Evans-Allan, Smith-Lever 3(b) and (c), and 1890 Extension) will be the first set of programs in NRS. As part of an ongoing effort over the coming months, the integration team will build modules for the remaining capacity research and competitive programs.

When must Project Directors (PDs) create an eAuth account and start using the new integrated system?

NIFA recommends that the Land-Grant Universities wait to register their PDs in eAuth until the research initiation module is active. The Project Director role will be created as part of the release and can’t be assigned prior to then. We also recommend that LGUs transition gradually and focus first on persons who do not have an account in REEport if those persons are going to need to initiate a new project in NRS. The next consideration will be getting PDs into NRS in time to contribute to progress reports due March 2022.

What information will be migrated from REEport to NRS in May 2021?

  1. Approved, active research projects in REEport (funding type of Hatch, Hatch Multistate, and Evans-Allen) that have an associated Critical Issues and end after September 30, 2021 will be migrated. This will provide the most up-to-date project activity reflective of the most recent priorities.  Subsequent waves of migration in the future will bring in older active projects as needed.
  2. Primary Project Director records will be migrated but will be flagged as inactive until the Project Director completes eAuthentication registration.

Where do PDs file final technical reports for research projects funded by Hatch, Hatch Multistate, and Evans-Allen?

Until notified, Project Directors should file their final technical reports in REEport.

Where do PDs file progress reports for research projects funded by Hatch, Hatch Multistate, and Evans-Allen?

NIFA will begin work on the reporting module in June 2021 and provide further guidance on Research progress reports. Extension programs will continue to report progress as part of the Annual Report of Accomplishments and Results, which will be integrated with the results module.

Where do LGUs file the equivalent REEport financial reports for research projects funded by Hatch, Hatch Multistate, and Evans-Allen?

NIFA will begin work on the financial module in tandem with the results module and provide further guidance on Research financial reports. Extension and Research financial institutions information will continue to report at the aggregate level as part of the Plan of Work requirements. The goal of future financial reporting is to streamline data entry, better connect the financial and award systems of record (e.g., ezFedGrants), and use a common-sense approach to satisfy POW and other reporting requirements where practical. Please continue following existing guidelines for other funding types.

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Plan Of Work (POW) and AREERA-Funded Research and Extension

What is AREERA?

The Agricultural Research, Extension, and Education Reform Act of 1998 amended the primary funding authorities for NIFA’s largest capacity grants including the Smith-Lever Act, the Hatch Act, and the National Agricultural Research, Extension, and Teaching Policy Act (NARETPA) of 1977. This reform standardized the requirements for Plan of Work for all LGUs including the focus on Critical Issues, multistate activities, and integrated activities.

What is the Plan of Work (POW) and what does AREERA require LGUs to report?

AREERA requires that states submit a POW, including yearly accomplishments and results, to receive federal funding. Specifically, each Plan of Work for a state required under AREERA will contain these descriptions:

  1. The critical agricultural issues in the state in which the eligible institution is located and the current and planned extension programs and projects targeted to address the issues.
  2. The process established to consult with extension users regarding the identification of critical agricultural issues in the state and the development of extension programs and projects targeted to address the issues.
  3. The efforts made to identify and collaborate with other colleges and universities within the state, and within other states, that have a unique capacity to address the identified agricultural issues in the state and the extent of current and emerging efforts (including regional extension efforts) to work with those other institutions.
  4. The manner in which research and extension, including research and extension activities funded other than through formula funds, will cooperate to address the Critical Issues in the state, including the activities to be carried out separately, the activities to be carried out sequentially, and the activities to be carried out jointly.
  5. The education and outreach programs already underway to convey currently available research results that are pertinent to a critical agriculture issue, including efforts to encourage multi-county cooperation in the dissemination of research results.

Plan of Work requirements pertain only to the Hatch, Smith-Lever 3(b) and (c), Evans-Allen, and 1890 Extension funds. The POW includes the following elements to satisfy the AREERA requirements:

  • Plan Overview including Executive Summary and FTE estimates
  • Merit/Peer Review
  • Stakeholder Input
  • Critical Issues and the planned programs and projects to implement them (Extension Program and Research Project descriptions)
  • Multistate & Integrated activities (part of project and program descriptions) and financials

What is the new "Projects/Program" tile feature?

The Projects/Program tile is where LGUs add Research project and Extension program descriptions. Projects and Programs, along with Critical Issues, satisfy the Planned Programs called for in AREERA and previously collected in POW. The research and extension modules were designed with working groups consisting of members from the LGUs. This is also where multistate and integrated activities descriptions will be entered, another AREERA requirement. Tracking multistate and integrated activities is a first step to eliminating the OGFM supplemental data as a stand-alone form.

Institutions may use their Critical Issues descriptions as the basis for Extension or choose to divide Critical Issues into distinct, but related, sets of activities (programs).

How can LGUs add Extension Programs in NRS?

Organizational Administrator and State Contributor roles can click the “Add” icon on the “Projects/Programs" tile that will be immediately available within the new portal. Access to this tile will allow Organizational Administrators and State Contributors to add, edit, and manage Extension Programs in NRS. Additionally, Extension Directors and Assistant Organizational Administrators with extension privileges will have the ability to add projects, although assistants cannot submit programs to NIFA.

How can LGUs add Research Projects in the NRS?

The Organizational Administrator role can click the “Add” icon on the "Projects/Programs" tile that will be immediately available within the new portal. Access to this tile will allow Organizational Administrators to add, edit, and manage research projects in NRS. Additionally, Research Directors, State Contributors with research privileges, Project Directors, and Assistant Organizational Administrators will have the ability to draft projects, although Project Directors and assistants cannot submit projects to NIFA.

How will Critical Issues be managed in NRS?

Critical Issues describe the short-, intermediate-, and long-term agricultural issues within the state and form the substance of the Plan. AREERA requires that states describe their Critical Issues in their Plans of Work and help organize the Research Projects and Extension Programs that flow from them.

Which Critical Issues will be available if an institution reports the Plan of Work separately from the other institution in a state?
Regardless of whether an institution reports the Plan of Work jointly or separately (e.g., the 1862 and 1890 institutions do not report jointly), all institutions within the state share a common set of Critical Issues. Institutions were instructed to enter identical Critical Issues in the Plan; however, if there are differences, institutions should work with each other and agree to a final version and remove the other one. It will not matter which one you choose when removing the duplicate in NRS; however, some migrated Research Projects may need to be reassigned to the remaining one during a future update. Institutions do not have to report against every Critical Issues on the joint list.

Will LGUs continue reporting Plans of Work jointly if the state has more than one institution, such as having both 1862 and 1890 institutions?
Most states report jointly and will continue doing so. NIFA has agreed to revisit the issue of joint reporting at the next Panel of Experts. We do not expect changes to the current situation until after the new reporting system is fully implemented.

How does the new integrated reporting system affect the POW under the Institutional Profile?
The current Plan of Work will eventually move into NRS. In this first release, LGUs will be able to edit Critical Issues and add extension programs to complete the reporting framework mandated by the AREERA statute. NIFA will shortly deliver the research initiation module for Hatch, Hatch Multistate, and Evans-Allan, with the support of the Research Working Group. Lastly, we will continue working with LGUs and NIFA National Program Leaders to make improvements to the Plan of Work module. 

What will happen to the Institutional Profile?
The Institutional Profile was a name proposed by the Panel of Experts to represent all the features of NRS, but only the revised and currently active Plan of Work form was added to it. The features described by the Panel do represent the profile of an institution, but given the longer-term vision of the integrated system, the name has been reconsidered. Once the current Plan of Work form is moved into NRS, that application and the name will be retired.

What is the OGFM Supplemental and who completes it?
The Office of Grants and Financial Management (OGFM) Supplemental is a form that 1862 land-grant institutions submit to NIFA to demonstrate they have allocated and spent the required percentage for these types of activities. All LGUs (1862 and 1890) receiving AREERA-funded capacity grants are required to report on multistate and integrated research and extension activities in their Plans, but only 1862 land-grant institutions have to expend a specified percentage of their research and extension funds on multistate and integrated activities. The LGUs in American Samoa, Guam, Micronesia, Northern Marianas, Puerto Rico, and the Virgin Islands and the 1890 LGUs are not required to expend a specified percentage of their formula funds and, therefore, do not submit the OGFM Supplemental to NIFA. 

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How to Set up an eAuthentication Account

What is eAuthentication?
USDA’s eAuthentication (eAuth) is a secure registration system required by USDA agencies to enable individual customers and employees to access USDA web applications and services. The account consists of a User ID (email), password, and information you enter about yourself in a profile (First Name, Last Name, etc.). eAuth does not have a mechanism to issue accounts to businesses, corporations, or other entities and will only accept accounts from individuals.

Why do I need to create an eAuth account?
USDA security protocols require everyone who accesses the new reporting system to have an eAuthentication account. eAuthentication provides a more secure means to connect with USDA applications and is an important standard that NRS will now be able to meet. You cannot access connected USDA web applications or services without one.

How do I complete the identity verification process?
After you have created your eAuth account and log back in, you are directed to complete identity verification. (If not, click Manage Account and select Update Account where you may need to log back in). The Verify Identity page requires you to choose your identity method. We recommend selecting Verify My identity online. You may also choose to visit a USDA Service Center for in-person identity verification, at which point your account registration will be incomplete until you complete the in-person identity verification. Once successful you will receive a confirmation email. (Note: in-person services may be limited due to COVID-19).

If you are not able to pass the quiz on the second attempt, you must verify your identity in person by visiting a USDA Service Center and present your identification information to verify your identity to the Local Registration Authority (LRA). For those having difficulty passing the quiz and/or reside where in-person options are not available, please contact NIFA at pow@usda.gov. 

Will the identity verification process impact my credit report?
The verification service DOES NOT run a credit report or affect your credit score. Information from your credit history is used to generate the questions, but this information IS NOT retained by the USDA. Use of the online identity verification tool DOES NOT impact your credit score or credit eligibility.

How can I confirm my identity has been verified?
When logging in to NRS, you will be required to complete identity verification before accessing it. Once completed, you will be directed to the new portal home page. A confirmation email will also be sent after you successfully complete registration and Online Identity Verification processes.

Who should I contact for assistance with registering for eAuthentication?
For assistance with eAuth issues (including password reset, account reactivation, etc.)

What if a Project Director’s email has changed since registering in REEport and won’t match the new eAuth account?
Project Directors who register with a different email address than used when logging into the NIFA Reporting Portal and REEPort should contact their Organizational Administrators and work with them to remove their old account and reassign active projects to the new profile. It is common for institutions and organizations to change domains (what appears after the “@“ sign), sometimes allowing users to still receive emails at the old address for a period of time. It is important to update this email address to maintain the ability to manage the account and receive notifications (password reset, project approvals, etc.). Please note that any change to PD assignment must be approved by NIFA. 

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Role Management

Who will manage roles in the new integrated system?
Organizational Administrators (formerly Site Administrators in Portal and REEport) will onboard users of the system as those persons acquire their eAuth accounts. Additional information on role management is available, upon request.

Organizational Administrators can add a role to once the user is registered, has completed identity verification, and visited the welcome page of NRS. Organizational Administrators click the “Add” button on the Manage Roles tile and enter the user’s email address and select the appropriate role. Organizational Administrators can see a list of their users or change roles by clicking the “Manage” button.

How do I request a role in NRS?
After your eAuth account is activated, your identity is verified, and you reach the NRS welcome page, you should contact your Organizational Administrator to request a role.  After you have been assigned a role, you will have access to tiles for the new portal home page and will be able to perform grant-related activities associated with your role.

What happens to my current role if I move to a different institution?
The Organizational Administrator at your new institution can grant you a role associated to your new organization (institution), Organizational Administrators should remove role records for departing users to make the transition more smooth. 

How can an Organizational Administrator complete a PD transfer?
When a PD is leaving a project (e.g., a PD leaves the institution and the project is still active), a new PD must be selected. This change is accomplished by editing the project description and submitting the change to NIFA. As part of the approval of the change, the Awards Management Division will complete updates to other records and then the change can be approved. 

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Critical Issues Management

Who will be able to manage Critical Issues?
Users who have been assigned the Director or State Contributor role will be able to add, edit, remove, organize, and view Critical Issues in the new integrated system.

How can a Director or State Contributor add Critical Issues in the new integrated system?
Directors and State Contributors can add Critical Issues by clicking the "Add" icon on the Critical Issues tile and complete a handful of fields describing it.

How can a Director or State Contributor edit Critical Issues in the new integrated system?
Directors and State Contributors can edit a Critical Issues by first going to the "Manage" icon and then choosing the Critical Issues to edit.

How many Critical Issues should a state list?
States may identify as many or as few as they think are appropriate. NIFA recommends that a state aims for 5 to 7 Critical Issues. 

What if I report separately but I am sharing a Critical Issues?
Initially, all Critical Issues from each institution in the state will be compiled in a single list for that state. The institutions will be responsible for comparing notes and working to delete the duplicate Critical Issues. Further guidance will be forthcoming. 

What are Science Emphasis Areas?
There are nine NIFA Science Emphasis Areas (SEAs) that capture all research and extension activities according to NIFA's science strategic goals and objectives. Users will associate at least one SEA for each Critical Issues in the Plan of Work. These associations will help inform reporting related to research project initiations and, eventually, Extension program initiations in REEport. Specifically, the Critical Issues and SEA association will link research projects and Extension programs in REEport to the Plan of Work in the Institutional Profile.

What if the Science Emphasis Area does not align with the Knowledge Area that I chose for my research project?
The POW requires an initial association of Science Emphasis Areas (SEAs) to Critical Issues that NIFA, in turn, maps to Knowledge Areas (KAs). If these do not align, the system will not require changes at this point. NIFA will examine instances where Critical Issues, KAs, and SEAs do not align and determine next steps.

What if my Project aligns with more than one Critical Issues?
We are cognizant that large projects may touch more than one Critical Issues. At this time, we are asking people to select the primary Critical Issues. As with any evolving data collection process, we expect to learn and refine the approach, especially through NIFA's working groups for extension and research. NIFA is also researching opportunities to replace manual classifications with a data mining and clustering tool.

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Research Projects and Extension Program

How can I add Extension Program or Research Project descriptions in the new integrated system?
Organizational Administrators, Directors, State Contributors, and Assistant Organizational Administrators can create Extension Program and Research projects by clicking the "Add" icon on the Projects/Programs tile, selecting the appropriate Funding Source and completing a brief form describing it. Projects and programs must be submitted to organizational review. Only Organizational Administrators, Directors, and State Contributors can submit these projects to NIFA.

What are the names of the fields and their rules such as character limits for Extension Programs?

Extension Program Description FieldRequiredRules and Character Limits

Funding Source YesDropdown based on eligibility

Primary Critical Issues YesDropdown

Is this an integrated research and extension activity (AREERA Section 104, 105, and 204)? YesRadio button selection

Integrated Activities DescriptionYes if integrated4,000 characters

Is this a multistate activity (AREERA Section 104 and 201)? Yes if multistateRadio button selection

Multistate Activities DescriptionYes4,000 characters

TitleYes175 characters

Start DateYesCalendar widget, format mm/dd/yyyy

InitiatorYesDropdown

Non-Technical Summary Yes8,000 characters

*Knowledge Areas will not be collected for Extension Programs at this time, but NIFA may revisit this as the project evolves.

What are the names of the fields and their rules such as character limits for Research Projects?

Research Project Description FieldRequiredRules and Character Limits

Funding Source YesDropdown based on eligibility

Primary Critical Issues YesDropdown

Animal Health Component %YesTextbox

Is this an integrated research and extension activity (AREERA Section 104, 105, and 204)? YesRadio button selection

Integrated Activities DescriptionYes if integrated4,000 characters

Activities and Research Effort CategoriesYes3 textboxes under Activities that must total 100% and 3 textboxes under Research Effort Categories that must total 100%

Is this a multistate activity (AREERA Section 104 and 201)? Yes if multistateRadio button selection

Multistate Activities DescriptionYes4,000 characters

TitleYes175 characters

Start DateYesCalendar widget, format mm/dd/yyyy

End DateYesCalendar widget, format mm/dd/yyyy

Project DirectorYesDropdown

Non-Technical Summary Yes8,000 character 

MethodologyYes8,000 characters 

Knowledge Areas, Subject of Investigation, Field of ScienceYes3 Dropdowns. Combos cannot be blank. Total must be less than 101% but greater than 4%, with all percentages adding to 100%, causing a limit of 20 rows. Select “+” button to add additional row and “-” button to remove row

Are Human subjects involved?

  • If “No”, proceed to next question
  • If “Yes”, is the project exempt from Federal regulations?
    • If “No”, enter the IRB approval date
    • If “Yes”, select the appropriate exemption number and then enter the IRB Approval Date

YesRadio button selection, dropdown, calendar widget and textbox field (format: mm/did/yyyy)Are Vertebrate Animals Used?

  • If “No”, proceed to next element
  • If “Yes”, enter the IACUC Approval date

YesRadio button selection, dropdown, calendar widget and textbox field (format: mm/did/yyyy)

Will I be able to save a draft of my projects and programs before submission?
Yes, you will be able to save a draft and any subsequent progress prior to submitting it to NIFA. The system saves every entry recorded. This will change the current process for Extension Programs, but it also provides the ability to draft a response and carry out an organizational review.

What approvals are required for Research Projects?
No changes are planned for the review and approval of Research Projects in NRS from the LGU perspective. Research projects will be reviewed by each organization and NIFA prior to commencing research activities. NIFA will be drafting new guidance for its reviewers on conducting administrative reviews. The responsibility for peer and merit reviews lies with the LGUs. 

What approvals are required for Extension Programs?
Beginning with the May 2021 release of NRS, Extension Programs will need to conduct an organizational review prior to NIFA submission. Once an Extension Program is submitted to NIFA, it will be reviewed along with the Plan of Work annual update. NIFA may review it individually, especially for new programs started mid-year. Institutions may begin activities as soon as they are submitted in NRS. 

How can I edit an Extension Program or a Research Project in the new integrated system?
Organizational Administrators, Directors, and State Contributors can edit their Extension Program by first going to the "Manage" icon on the Projects/Programs tile and then choosing the Extension program to edit. Organizational Administrators, Directors, State Contributors, and Project Directors named as the primary can edit Research projects. Immediately following the May 2021 release, all changes will require re-approval. In an upcoming release, this requirement will be relaxed and only core fields will require approval (e.g., non-technical summary, methodology, or PD).

Will I be able to back date the Start Date?
The new integrated system will prevent back dating, in accordance with OGFM policy.

What is a Non-Technical Summary?
Both Extension Programs and Research Project descriptions include a non-technical summary. The non-technical summary, written for the lay reader, is a frequently read section in REEport by NIFA staff, Congressional offices, and the public. The non-technical summary will describe: 1) the issue and why it is important, (2) the goals and objectives, (3) the target audiences and how they will benefit, and (4) how the activities lead to the outcomes described in the goal statement or objectives. The accomplishments in the Annual Report will likely follow this same structure. Extension Program descriptions also include a title, start date (which can be set to a future date); and other identifying information related to the institution (e.g., institution name and DUNS number).

Why are LGUs asked to classify Research Projects by Knowledge Area, Subject of Investigation, and Field of Science?
Each Research Project needs to be classified by one or more Knowledge Area, Subject of Investigation, and Field of Science combination. Each combination is assigned a percentage based on distribution of effort. These classifications allow NIFA to assess which portions of a project are associated to a specific Knowledge Area and, in turn, more accurately track how the funding dollars are spent. Subjects of Investigation and Fields of Science provide additional facets for classification and analysis as explained below. 

What is a Knowledge Area?
NIFA classifies all research, extension, and education projects and programs under 79 knowledge areas (KAs) and organized into nine topic areas called Science Emphasis Areas (SEAs). SEAs align with NIFA's strategic goals. Only research projects will require collection of KAs at this time, but may be required for Extension in the future. KAs will be combined with Subjects of Investigation and Fields of Science. See the Classification Manual for additional details:  www.nifa.usda.gov/resource/manual-classification

What is a Subject of Investigation?
The Subject of Investigation (SOI) series provides an additional facet for classification. It is generally the object of the research or activity: the class of plant, animal, organism, material, process, procedure, etc., under investigation. Only research projects will require collection of Subjects of Investigation at this time. See the Classification Manual for additional details: www.nifa.usda.gov/resource/manual-classification

What is a Field of Science?
The Field of Science (FOS) classification consists of a modified version of the fields of science used by the National Science Foundation for various government wide reports. Only research projects will require collection of Fields of Science at this time. See the Classification Manual for additional details: www.nifa.usda.gov/resource/manual-classification.

What is changing regarding projects with human subjects and/or vertebrate animals?
Approvals must be obtained and the approval date provided before submitting projects with human subjects and/or vertebrate animals. 

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For NIFA National Program Leaders (NPLs) and State Liaison

What should NPLs or State Liaisons expect in the NIFA Reporting System?
NPLs and State Liaisons will be able to view, approve, defer, or decline Research projects and Extension programs. 

How will brief summaries of multistate and integrated activities be handled in the new integrated system?
Per the statute, AREERA-funded extension and research will include brief summaries (1-2 sentences) of multistate and integrated activities if projects and programs have activities that support these requirements. 

What is the plan for yearly Progress and Final Reports for Extension Programs and Research Projects and the Annual Report of Accomplishments and Results in the NIFA Reporting System?
NIFA will begin designing the results module in NRS in June 2021, which will replace the current methods for reporting and reduce duplicative data entry. Research projects should continue filing final reports in REEport. Extension will continue to report progress through the Annual Report of Accomplishments and Results. The content of the Annual Report will likely be similar to its current composition. We will be restoring output measures such as publications and providing opportunities for grantees to include outcome measures. NIFA will likely restore the collection of full-time equivalents (FTEs) but we have not determined at what level (project/program or Critical Issues). Other fields are likely to be added in the future to comply with new legal requirements or to assist in reducing reporting burden. These include the publication DOI, a grantee's ORCID, collaborating foreign governments, and the location where the work is performed. 

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