Frequently Asked Questions
Table of Contents:
- Why is NIFA building a new grants management and reporting system?
- How is NIFA developing the NIFA Reporting System (NRS)?
- Who will utilize NRS?
- How do I access NRS?
- How do I sign-up to receive important information about NRS?
- What is the Plan of Work (POW) and what does AREERA require LGUs to report?
- What are Critical Issues?
- How many Critical Issues should a state list?
- Who will be able to manage Critical Issues?
- Which Critical Issues will be displayed in the FY2022 Annual Report of Accomplishments and Results?
- When should I reassign projects if my Critical Issue is closing out?
- When should Critical Issues be updated, added or closed out?
- Can I currently add co-project directors in NRS?
- How does the management of Critical Issues (add, update, closeout) impact projects and programs associated with other fiscal years?
- When does the current POW cycle end?
- Which funding is reported on in NRS?
- What information should be included in a Hatch multistate project?
- How do I delete a project or program in NRS?
- How do I edit or delete users in NRS?
Why is NIFA building a new grants management and reporting system?
A group of representatives from NIFA and 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. NIFA, in collaboration with LGU partners, is building the NIFA Reporting System (NRS) which enables reporting for both research and extension activities.
How is NIFA developing the NIFA Reporting System (NRS)?
NIFA regularly collaborates with NIFA program experts and LGU partners in working groups to discuss the development of NRS. These working group sessions enable NIFA to gain direct feedback from partner institutions and grantees on new features in the system and identify areas for enhancement. As the system continues to develop, additional working groups may be identified. Working groups provide feedback on ways to improve reporting carried out in multiple systems and identify redundant and inefficient processes. In the future, NIFA will address financial reporting needs, civil rights reporting, and the inclusion of competitive programs. If you are interested in providing feedback as part of a working group, please contact your regional research or extension representative.
Who will utilize NRS?
Those currently using the NIFA Reporting Portal (REEport, Leadership Management Dashboard (LMD), or Institutional Profile) will gradually transition to NRS. The transition to NRS started with capacity-funded programs. Partners currently report on projects and programs funded by Hatch (regular and multistate), Evans-Allen, Smith-Lever 3(b)&(c), 1890s Extension, Animal Health and Disease Research, McIntire-Stennis, and Renewable Resources Extension Act.
How do I access NRS?
To access NRS, visit the NIFA Reporting System page at https://www.nifa.usda.gov/data/nifa-reporting-system and click the LAUNCH button. The NRS application will display, prompting users to log-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 NIFA Reporting System eAuthentification Registration Guide for more information.
How do I sign-up to receive important information about NRS?
NIFA frequently shares information on NRS releases, enhancements, and webinars. To receive NRS communications, please email firstname.lastname@example.org.
What is the Plan of Work (POW) and what does AREERA require LGUs to report?
The Agricultural Research, Extension, and Education Reform Act of 1998 (AREERA)requires that states submit a POW, including yearly accomplishments and results, to receive capacity funding. POW requirements pertain only to the Hatch (regular and multistate), Smith-Lever 3(b) and (c), Evans-Allen, and 1890 Extension funds. The POW includes the following elements to satisfy the AREERA requirements: executive summary, merit or scientific peer review, stakeholder input, critical issues, and information on multistate & integrated activities.
What are Critical Issues?
Critical Issues replaced Planned Programs in the Plan of Work. They are the critical short-, intermediate-, and long-term agricultural issues within the state. AREERA requires that states describe them in their Plans of Work. Specifically, each Plan of Work for a state required under AREERA subsection (d) shall contain descriptions of the following:
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 multicounty cooperation in the dissemination of research results.
How many Critical Issues should a state list?
States may identify as many or as few Critical Issues as they think appropriate. NIFA recommends no more than 5-7.
Who will be able to manage Critical Issues?
Users who have been assigned the Director or State Contributor role will be able to add, update, and closeout Critical Issues within NRS.
Which Critical Issues will be displayed in the FY2022 Annual Report of Accomplishments and Results?
All Critical Issues active in FY2022 and closing out in FY2023 will be listed in the FY2022 Annual Report of Accomplishments.
When should I reassign projects if my Critical Issue is closing out?
To avoid changing the alignment of critical issues in the FY2022 Annual Report of Accomplishments, it is strongly recommended that LGUs wait to reassign existing projects and programs until after the FY2022 Annual Report of Accomplishments is submitted. Any projects or programs reassigned to a new Critical Issue prior to the submission of the FY2022 Annual Report of Accomplishments may not be aligned accurately in the report.
When should Critical Issues be updated, added or closed out?
Critical Issues should be managed as part of the Plan of Work submission (which is completed annually). For the FY2023 POW, changes to Critical Issues must be made no later than September 2022 and should be submitted in tandem with the POW template.
Can I currently add co-project directors in NRS?
Co-project Director is a request that is being tracked by NIFA as a future enhancement, but there is no anticipated delivery date at this time. Our current focus is on ensuring our partners can complete all required reporting activities in NRS which impact funding, like the Financial Reporting module and Plan of Work module. We also try to include enhancements in our regularly scheduled releases.
How does the management of Critical Issues (add, update, closeout) impact projects and programs associated with other fiscal years?
Newly added Critical Issues should be associated to projects and programs that will start on or after October 1, 2022, or projects and programs intended to continue through FY2023 and beyond. Older projects and programs should not be realigned to newly added Critical Issues at this time.
Users are currently able to update existing Critical Issues in NRS. The updates made to existing Critical Issues are immediate and will affect all associated projects and programs when the change is saved in NRS. Updates to Critical Issues will impact the associated projects and programs for FY2022 and beyond.
To avoid changing the alignment of Critical Issues in the FY2022 Annual Report of Accomplishments, it is strongly recommended users wait to reassign existing projects and programs until after the FY2022 Annual Report of Accomplishments is submitted. Any projects or programs reassigned to a new Critical Issue prior to the submission of the FY2022 Annual Report of Accomplishments may not be aligned accurately in the report.
When does the current POW cycle end?
The 5-year cycle for POW is considered a rolling cycle, whereby the prior fiscal year is removed for every additional year added. Examples of the POW cycle are below:
- FY2021 POW: For period of 2021-2025
- FY2022 POW: For period of 2022-2026
- FY2023 POW: For period of 2023-2027
Which funding is reported on in NRS?
- 1862: Hatch or Hatch Multistate
- 1862: Smith-Lever 3(b) and 3(c)
- 1890: 1890 Extension (Section 1444)
- 1890: Evans-Allen (Section 1445)
- Animal Health and Disease Research (AHDR)
- Renewable Resources Extension Act (RREA)
What information should be included in a Hatch multistate project?
NRS receives an overnight feed of NIMSS data and users can select the multistate project from the dropdown menu and select the project-relevant objectives as listed in NIMSS. NRS will also get the basic NIMSS project information and Collaborating/Performing States list data (not editable in NRS).
All other information in the project initiation should reflect the actual project(s) that is to be conducted at your institution and/or in your state because this detailed information is not in the national, five-year project in NIMSS. Please include specific goals/objectives in the Non-Technical Summary or in the Methodology which describes the individual experiment/project and how it contributes to the larger Hatch multistate project. Details that explain the multistate collaboration are also very valuable.
How do I delete a project or program in NRS?
Users cannot currently delete NRS projects or programs that have a NIFA approval date; projects or programs without NIFA approval may be removed using the Remove button. For projects or programs that have a NIFA approval date, please place 'DELETE' at the beginning of the project/program title and email email@example.com to request it be declined.
When the ability to delete projects or programs is added to the system, NIFA will remove those previously marked items. Please note that deleting a project or program is not the same thing as closing it out; the close out process in NRS is under development. If a project or program is closing out, the end date should be updated if necessary, and a final result should be entered.
How do I edit or delete users in NRS?
Currently NRS does not have the functionality to delete users from the system, edit a user's name, or edit a user's email address. The developers of NRS are currently addressing our user management capabilities to allow deletion and editing of names. We will notify all system users when the functionality to edit and remove this information is available. In the interim, please adhere to the below guidance to manage access to NRS.
- To flag a user to be removed once the functionality to delete has been released, please change the role of user to View Only by accessing Manage Roles from the NRS Dashboard, selecting the user, and using the drop-down menu to select View Only. Additionally, please remove all access to funding types.
- For Project Director Roles: Prior to changing the Project Director role to View Only, you must re-assign all projects/programs to the new Project Director by editing the project/program. This may require clicking on the PD name while viewing the project/program if there is more than one user with the same name. This is not necessary for other NRS roles.
- When editing roles in NRS, ensure the correct role is being edited by confirming the correct account, as users may be listed multiple times. To confirm which account is correct, verify the email address used for eAuthentication is the email address used in NRS. Both email addresses MUST match to gain access to the system. Additionally, please remove all access to funding types.
- For Project Director Roles: Prior to changing the Project Director role to View Only, you must re-assign all projects/programs to the new Project Director by editing the project/program. This may require checking by clicking on the PD name while viewing the project/program if there is more than one user with the same name. This is not necessary for other NRS roles.