The Agricultural Research Service (ARS) is the United States Department of Agriculture’s chief scientific in-house research agency, conducting approximately 690 research projects across the country. ARS reorganized its approach to research project and program management in 1996 by breaking down disciplinary silos and taking a problem-centered approach to designing the research agenda. The resulting Office of National Programs has aligned and coordinated research projects across the country toward problems of high national or regional priority, making each project more effective, and leveraging the agency’s resources for greater impact.
The current organization of these programs largely reflected the reforms developed twenty years ago, and ARS sought recommendations to best position the programs to reflect changes since that time. ARS engaged the National Academy of Public Administration (the Academy) to conduct an organizational assessment of its national research program structure and management process within its Office of National Programs. The goal of the study was to ensure that ARS’ line research programs are organized and managed to best deliver efficient, creative, and impactful mission-oriented work.
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The Academy’s assessment specifically focused on:
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