USDA Research Relocation and Reorganization:
Perspectives from Former USDA Chief Scientists
and Administrators


A FREE webinar featuring:

 
Catherine Woteki
Catherine Woteki
Former USDA Under Secretary of Agriculture for Research, Education,
and Economics
Susan Offutt
Susan Offutt
Former USDA Economic Research Service Administrator
 
Gale Buchanan
Gale Buchanan
Former USDA Under Secretary of Agriculture for Research, Education,
and Economics
Scott Swinton
Scott Swinton (moderator)
Professor, Michigan State University Past President, Agricultural
and Applied Economics Association
 


With a special appearance by
the Honorable Stephen Censky, USDA Deputy Secretary

Thursday, September 20, 2018
11 a.m. – 12 p.m. EDT
Webinar recording
Webinar slides

On August 9, US Department of Agriculture (USDA) Secretary Sonny Perdue surprised Congress and USDA stakeholders with an announcement that he plans to relocate the USDA Economic Research Service (ERS) and USDA National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA) outside the Washington, DC, area by the end of 2019. He also will transfer ERS from the USDA research arm to a policy arm.

The announcement has raised the following questions of process:

  • Was the partner and stakeholder community consulted prior to the announcement, and if so, how and when?
  • Will there be a chance for the USDA partner community to comment on the announcement and the effects of its realization?
  • What is Congress’s oversight and appropriation role in this reorganization?

Many substantive concerns have also been raised, including the following:

  • What policy and research problems are being addressed by the relocations and ERS’ transfer to a USDA policy arm?
  • How will the research quality and relevance of NIFA and ERS be improved by moving their headquarters away from key audiences and policymakers?
  • How would NIFA’s role in federal research partnerships be affected with a move away from sister federal agencies (National Institutes of Health, National Science Foundation, and Department of Energy)?
  • How would NIFA’s day-to-day operations be affected with leadership in DC and the rest of the agency in another location?
  • If most of NIFA is relocated to a partner university, what protections would be necessary to avoid preferential treatment of that university over the dozens of other universities that host NIFA-funded research?
  • Will ERS retain its capacity to be a leading world agricultural economics research institution if many staff elect not to relocate?
  • After reorganization, will the ERS have the resources to continue to serve as an independent, trustworthy source of statistical information?
  • What do these changes mean for the future of the USDA mission area of Research, Education, and Economics?

The panelists will address the many questions and concerns raised about Perdue’s announcement; address viewer questions; and suggest actions for Congress, USDA, and viewers.

Follow the discussion on Twitter by using #NIFA_Strong & #ERS_Strong.

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