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Panel Manager Orientation

As a panel manager, you are a temporary NIFA employee and are required to complete a training package.

There are two sets of training in this package: one is mandatory and required by USDA to make you aware of the rules and responsibilities as well as your rights as you proceed with your duties as a temporary federal employee. The second set of trainings will help you understand your responsibilities as a panel manager and will guide you through the practices established by NIFA to ensure a smooth and fair panel review process.

The training should be completed as your first task as a panel manager. Once you finish the training, please complete and submit the certification form, which will serve as your certification of completion. If you have any questions, please speak to the NIFA staff working on your program.

USDA Mandated Training

USDA mandated trainings usually have a due date and need to be completed within a certain time frame. Some of the trainings are required during onboarding, and you will be notified about them in your official job offer. The remaining mandated training is provided by NIFA.

Some training modules are required annually, and you may be notified to retake them if you serve as panel manager for more than one year consecutively. For your convenience, we have listed the required training below. Some of these are paper-based; others must be completed online.

Trainings that are part of onboarding

The link for this training is provided during your onboarding process. After onboarding, the ethics training is required annually and is available through the USDA-NASA Ethics Training Game.

The link for this training is provided during your onboarding process. A paper-based training is also available. 

This training is part of your onboarding process and is accessible online. After onboarding, this training is required annually.

Trainings available as paper versions

The following trainings are available on the USDA Mandated Paper-Based Training for Panel Managers page

  1. Protecting Personally Identifiable Information (PII)
  2. Counterintelligence and Insider Threat Awareness
  3. Records Management
  4. Whistleblower Rights and Remedies
  5. Section 508: What It is and Why It's Important
  6. Workplace Violence Prevention
  7. Financial Arrangements for Travel
  8. Anti-Harassment All-Employee Training
  9. No FEAR Act Training

NIFA Program Training for All Panel Managers

In this video, Division Director Rubella Goswami discusses the panel manager's role and responsibilities.

In this video, Capacity Program Leader Ahlishia Shipley discusses conflict of interest criteria, confidentiality, and research misconduct in the review process.

National Program Leader John Erickson discusses the selection of panelists and ad hoc reviewers for the FY23 Panel Manager Orientation.

National Program Leader Kellyann Jones-Jamtgaard discusses rules for virtual panels for the FY23 Panel Manager Orientation.

National Program Leader Keith Harris discusses NIFA's competitive programs.

Associate Director of Operations Drenda Williams discusses potential of bias becoming a factor in panel functions and how NIFA strives to minimize its impact on the review process.

This paper-based training explains the process of travel under federal employment for panel managers. It is available on the USDA Mandated Paper-Based Training for Panel Managers page.

Programmatic Training Required for Panel Managers Working on Specific Programs

The following videos are only required if the topic applies to the program you are working with. 

Lelan Dixon, Agriculture and Food Research Initiative, AFRI program coordinator, provides training for panel managers on AFRI Food and Agricultural Science Enhancement (FASE) program.

Rachel Melnick, division director for global climate change in NIFA's Institute of Bioenergy, Climate and Environment, provides training on the review of Center of Excellence applications.

General information about NIFA's integrated programs that combine education, extension, and/or research. 

Checklist and Certification

Certify that you have completed all the required trainings by submitting the following form:

Certify your completion


If you have any feedback on the videos or training materials, please contact the Administrative Operations Team.

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