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MANAGING GLOBAL GENETIC RESOURCES: The U.S. National Plant Germplasm System 3 Administration of the National System T he collection and management of plant genetic resources through the National Plant Germplasm System (NPGS) are matters of crucial importance to the nation's economy and food security. The U.S. food supply and the nation's ability to compete in and satisfy world food markets depend on these resources. Consequently, the management and coordination of plant germplasm activities at a national level demand broad participation among public and private agencies. The NPGS, a national endeavor, must transcend state and regional boundaries and authorities. Despite its national responsibilities, NPGS leadership and management are scattered and difficult to discern. The national program leader for plant germplasm, designated by the Agricultural Research Service (ARS) to oversee germplasm activities, is widely regarded as the leader of the NPGS, but this position has little authority over funding, staffing, administration, and program development. The program leader only makes recommendations with regard to germplasm and its management by sites. The NPGS was designed to be a cooperative network. The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) is the lead agency. Other federal agencies, all of the state agricultural experiment stations, and some private companies and groups participate in the system. A number of advisory groups also guide its activities. The need to provide a clear framework for the national system has been recognized for several years. A previous report (Office of Technology Assessment, 1987) noted that funding, advice, and administration
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MANAGING GLOBAL GENETIC RESOURCES: The U.S. National Plant Germplasm System in the NPGS flow along separate and independent lines of authority. An analysis by the USDA revealed the frustration within that agency over management authority (U.S. Department of Agriculture, 1981:II-16). The level at which decisions are made is often so obfuscated that accountability is lost. This weakness is not unique to the NPGS, but it is especially critical because of the breadth of the program. While attempts to address this concern have been made, the administrative weaknesses and clouding of accountability remain. This chapter examines the administrative, organizational, and advisory components of the national system. THE NPGS IN THE U.S. DEPARTMENT OF AGRICULTURE Management of the NPGS network is divided among several agencies within the USDA and state agricultural experiment stations. The ARS holds the largest share of responsibility for management. The diffuse nature of the NPGS with its many sites and cooperators often means that those outside the system do not understand how it functions. Facilities at several locations and a range of expertise and environments are necessary because of the variety of germplasm held. Although federal NPGS sites have agreed goals and priorities in managing germplasm, conflicts may occur where state or local objectives and plans for funding are different. The constraints these conflicts put on a national program have also been criticized (Office of Technology Assessment, 1981:45) in other USDA research efforts. The highly decentralized nature of the USDA research system, a source of friction through much of the 20th century, now seems to be accepted and even favored by the States. . . . This dispersion, in fact, has led to criticism that many USDA employees essentially function as State employees and that this in turn has led to a loss of focus on national issues. Management of the various units of the NPGS is largely the responsibility of the ARS, which operates through an area management structure. The USDA Cooperative State Research Service (CSRS), through its regional structure, supports projects at some NPGS sites. Germplasm conservation, however, requires a national focus. The four regional plant introduction stations, for example, are administered by four separate area directors who support and foster ARS activities important to their respective areas. This decentralized organization is an obstacle to the national coordination and focus crucial to NPGS efforts. Where both CSRS and ARS provide support (e.g., the regional stations), each
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MANAGING GLOBAL GENETIC RESOURCES: The U.S. National Plant Germplasm System provides separate administration of its funds. Thus, no single USDA office holds complete authority for the budget and program of the NPGS. The Agricultural Research Service From 1901 to 1953, USDA germplasm exploration and collection were the responsibilities of the Bureau of Plant Industry. In 1953 the bureau, the other scientific bureaus, and the Office of Experiment Stations were combined into the Agricultural Research Service (Office of Technology Assessment, 1981). Germplasm work then became the responsibility of the New Crops Research Branch and, for some major commodities, of various field crop leaders or chiefs. In general, the ARS branch system, as this organization was informally called, centralized finance and decision making and placed line authority largely in the hands of branch chiefs as national leaders. Several reorganizations since 1953 have altered the balance of financial and decision-making authority within ARS and have seriously affected germplasm activities. The 1972 ARS reorganization switched the agency from the branch system to decentralized management. This shift disrupted the national focus for genetic resources. Line authority was delegated to the western, north central, northeast, and southern regions, each under a regional deputy administrator, and to 22 areas with their own management offices. Over the ensuing years, the regional offices were eliminated and the areas were reduced to eight. The present ARS National Program Staff has little of the authority for budgeting, staff selection, or decision making exercised by the former branch chiefs. Their responsibilities are described as programmatic (i.e., program planning), which is to say, advisory. ARS activities are managed through a decentralized system of area offices. This system, while responsive to local needs, can hamper a nationally focused program. National coordination of hard red winter wheat research in 1981, which required the concurrence of the deputy administrators for three regions and the cooperation of seven area directors and 11 experiment station directors, is illustrative of the difficulties that can confront a national program (Office of Technology Assessment, 1981). Since that time, regional offices have been eliminated and the number of areas reduced, but decentralized management and the need for multiple concurrences remain. The NPGS emerged in 1974 as a reorganized national program for germplasm in the United States. The germplasm activities at the regional stations and the National Seed Storage Laboratory (NSSL) were placed
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MANAGING GLOBAL GENETIC RESOURCES: The U.S. National Plant Germplasm System FIGURE 3-1 Illustration of the administrative structure and lines of authority in the Agricultural Research Service showing the position of the national program leader for germplasm within the National Program Staff. (Adapted from a chart prepared by the U.S. Department of Agriculture, Agricultural Research Service, Personnel Division, June 10, 1987.).
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MANAGING GLOBAL GENETIC RESOURCES: The U.S. National Plant Germplasm System under new lines of ARS authority. From 1974 to 1984 the newly created NPGS was managed by a special coordinator, who was the assistant to the ARS deputy administrator of the Plant Germplasm Program. This allowed somewhat greater influence over germplasm activities than before, but authority for implementation remained in the area offices. However, there was better oversight over decisions affecting the national system because the special coordinator reported directly to the ARS deputy administrator. In 1984 the present relationship between the NPGS and the National Program Staff was established. The special coordinator position was eliminated, and recommendations for germplasm activities became the responsibility of a national program leader for plant germplasm, who is part of the National Program Staff (Figure 3-1). The national line authority for program direction and budget, formerly held by the special coordinator, has been drastically eroded. The program leader now chairs a Germplasm Matrix Team (GMT) comprised of other National Program Staff members. Only with concurrence from the GMT and the cooperation of the area directors can the program leader make recommendations on appropriating funds, hiring staff, and coordinating activities. The program leader's success in executing a national germplasm program depends largely on his or her ability to persuade or to cooperate with the eight area directors and the GMT. The GMT reviews ARS germplasm activities, offers recommendations and proposals for exploration and evaluation to the ARS deputy administrator, and discusses policy questions. Its members have different primary interests and compete for the same funding sources. This management by committee dilutes the influence of the national program leader for plant germplasm as the leader of the NPGS. The national system lacks the national and international visibility and influence needed to assure the long-term, continuing support it requires (Christensen, 1989). There has been little sense of cohesiveness within the system, although recent efforts, such as the increased reliance on the Plant Germplasm Operations Committee (PGOC) to promote communication and problem solving, have partly addressed this issue. Because management is area based and decentralized, no individual below the administrator of ARS has line authority for national germplasm activities. To execute an ARS plan, the program leader must, at a minimum, secure the concurrence and approval of the GMT, and the cooperation of the deputy administrator, the administrator, and the relevant area directors for whom germplasm may be a small part of their responsibilities. This is illustrated by the National Germplasm Resources Laboratory
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MANAGING GLOBAL GENETIC RESOURCES: The U.S. National Plant Germplasm System (NGRL), one of 22 laboratories in the Plant Sciences Institute of the Beltsville (Maryland) Area (Stoner, 1988). It includes plant exploration activities, the Plant Introduction Office (PIO), and the Database Management Unit that oversees the Germplasm Resources Information Network (GRIN), and it manages the crop advisory committees. The scientists in this laboratory report to the head of the laboratory who is in turn responsible to the area director, who evaluates activities and allocates resources. The national program leader for plant germplasm is merely an adviser with no delegated authority over the laboratory or its activities. Decentralized management is in sharp contrast to the national focus of germplasm work. Germplasm held by individual sites may well have regional significance (e.g., maize at the North-Central Regional Plant Introduction Station), but it also benefits agriculture in all of the regions. NPGS collections also have international significance. For example, many of the collections held in the NSSL have been designated by the International Board for Plant Genetic Resources as international base collections (National Research Council, 1988). The challenge to the USDA is to structure the NPGS so that it has national authority and international visibility but still meets the needs and concerns of its users. ARS germplasm research appropriations are summarized in Table 3-1.These funds represent all of the ARS research and service efforts that can be classed by their respective administrators as being related to germplasm. While about $26 million to $28 million is spent annually on germplasm work, only about half of that amount is devoted directly to germplasm management at the principal NPGS sites. In fiscal year 1988, $13.8 million was spent at these sites (Table 3-2). TABLE 3-1 Research Appropriations of the Agricultural Research Service for Plant Germplasm Activities, Fiscal Years 1986–1989 Fiscal Year ($000) Activity 1986 1987 1988 1989 Acquisition 2,267 2,153 3,184 3,762 Preservation 6,178 6,584 9,497 10,175 Evaluation 4,088 5,504 8,142 8,537 Enhancement 844 4,209 5,633 6,029 Total 13,377 18,450 26,456 28,503 SOURCE: H. L. Shands, U.S. Department of Agriculture, personal communication, September 1989.
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MANAGING GLOBAL GENETIC RESOURCES: The U.S. National Plant Germplasm System TABLE 3-2 Germplasm Research Appropriations of the Agricultural Research Service (ARS) Compared with Responses to a Survey of Funding for Germplasm Activities at the Principal National Plant Germplasm System (NPGS) Sites, Fiscal Year 1988 Survey Response (dollars) ARS Location NPGS Site Surveyed ARS Appropriations (dollars) ARS CSRS a Arkansas Stuttgart 177,400 Arizona Phoenix 70,300 Tucson 73,700 California Brawley National clonal germplasm repository 40,700 36,000 Davis National clonal germplasm repository 447,400 327,000 Fresno 152,000 Riverside National clonal germplasm repository 70,900 120,000 Salinas 89,700 Colorado Fort Collins National Seed Storage Laboratory 2,231,800 2,004,000 District of Columbia National Arboretum 616,000 343,800 Florida Miami National clonal germplasm repository 460,500 526,760 Orlando National clonal germplasm repository 379,100 120,000 Georgia Byron 47,200 Griffin b Regional plant introduction station 1,306,300 1,439,460 175,698 Tifton 104,000 Hawaii Honolulu National clonal germplasm repository 167,900 150,000
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MANAGING GLOBAL GENETIC RESOURCES: The U.S. National Plant Germplasm System Iowa Ames/Ankeny Regional plant introduction station 1,773,500 1,307,328 353,120 Idaho Aberdeen 765,300 Illinois Urbana Long-season soybean collection 529,700 273,955 Indiana West Lafayette 279,900 Kansas Manhattan 90,300 Maryland Beltsville Plant Genetics and Germplasm Institute c 4,199,100 2,344,848 d Glenn Dale National Plant Germplasm Quarantine Laboratory (NPGQL) 903,200 812,900 Minnesota St. Paul 454,800 Mississippi Mississippi State 441,200 Stoneville Short-season soybean collection 748,100 225,178 Missouri Columbia 152,900 Montana Bozeman 29,800 Nebraska Lincoln 249,000
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MANAGING GLOBAL GENETIC RESOURCES: The U.S. National Plant Germplasm System North Carolina Oxford 45,900 Raleigh 490,400 North Dakota Fargo 623,400 New York Geneva Regional plant introduction station 1,256,200 825,103 131,500 National clonal germplasm repository 301,472 Oklahoma Stillwater 291,800 Oregon Corvallis National clonal germplasm repository 950,600 743,425 Pennsylvania University Park 96,900 South Carolina Charleston 405,900 Florence 44,700 Texas Brownwood National clonal germplasm repository 59,100 103,188 Bushland 128,200 College Station Cotton collection 826,600 170,989 Temple 75,000 Utah Logan 511,900 Washington Prosser 286,100 Pullman Regional plant introduction station 1,222,100 1,270,866 245,270 Wisconsin Madison Interregional Research Project-1 (IR-1) 453,500 76,400 132,251
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MANAGING GLOBAL GENETIC RESOURCES: The U.S. National Plant Germplasm System Puerto Rico Mayaguez National clonal germplasm repository 343,400 237,283 Virgin Islands St. Croix 236,300 Headquarters National 1,056,300 Program Staff Total 26,456,000 13,759,955 1,037,839 NOTE: The survey includes only those funds that are provided by the ARS and the Cooperative State Research Service (CSRS) of the U.S. Department of Agriculture. The in-kind contributions of state agricultural experiment stations and local universities, such as laboratory space, equipment, and other support, were not included. Most respondents reported “net to location” amounts, which do not include an overhead for administrative costs of 10 percent that is deducted from ARS appropriations. a CSRS provides funding only to selected sites. b Formerly referred to as Experiment, Georgia. c In 1988 the Plant Genetics and Germplasm Institute, which included the Germplasm Services Laboratory (GSL), was renamed the Plant Sciences Institute of the Beltsville (Maryland) Area. The activities of the GSL included the National Small Grains Collection (NSGC), the Plant Introduction Office, administration of NPGSsponsored plant exploration activities, the Germplasm Resources Information Network, and coordination of crop advisory committee activities. In 1989, administrative oversight of the NSGC was removed from the GSL and the facility was relocated to Aberdeen, Idaho. In 1990, the GSL became the National Germplasm Resources Laboratory, and it became responsible for administration of the NPGQL. d The budget figure is the net to location amount for the GSL as reported in Stoner, A. K. 1988. Program review. Germplasm Services Laboratory. Plant Sciences Institute, Agricultural Research Service, Beltsville, Maryland, November 14 (photocopy). Also included in the ARS appropriations are costs for activities at other locations, which are identified by their national program leaders, research leaders, or others as germplasm related. Many of these efforts may be more closely allied to activities other than those of germplasm management (e.g., breeding activities). The ARS appropriation is not, therefore, a budget for the National Plant Germplasm System. Further,
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MANAGING GLOBAL GENETIC RESOURCES: The U.S. National Plant Germplasm System the many competing interests for these funds have constrained their allocation in a way that is responsive to the needs of the system. System of Personnel Classification and Promotion Federal research and service scientists within the NPGS are governed by the classification and promotion system of the ARS. The system consists of four categories. The term category is a designation for a group of personnel positions having similar characteristics (U.S. Department of Agriculture, 1986). Some positions may include duties that apply to more than one category. The ARS categories that have been established for professional scientific positions are research scientist (category 1) and service scientist (category 4). Category 2 (research affiliate) pertains to a short-term position that is intended primarily for postdoctoral study. Category 3 (support scientist) positions provide assistance and support to the research efforts of category 1 or 4 scientists. The position of research scientist pertains to an employee whose highest level of work, for a major portion of the time, involves personal conduct, or conduct and leadership, of theoretical and experimental investigations primarily of a basic or applied nature. For example, such work would involve determining the nature, magnitude, and interrelationships of physical, biological, and physiological phenomena and processes; or creating or developing principles, criteria, methods, and a body of knowledge generally applicable for use by others. The position of service scientist pertains to an employee who serves as a project or program leader for, or who personally performs, work involving professional scientific services to the public or to other governmental agencies. These services include identification of animals, plants, or insects; diagnosis of diseases; mass production of plants, animals, or insects; collection, introduction, and maintenance of germplasm or specimens; vaccine production; education, extension, or technology transfer activities; and nutrient data and food intake surveys. The Research Position Evaluation System is a personnel assessment mechanism used to evaluate category 1 (research) scientists. It is based on what is termed the “person-in-the-job” concept. Category 1 scientists have open-ended advancement potential based largely on research accomplishments. By building a research program and producing the evidence of a publication record, category 1 scientists can receive regular promotions. In the NPGS, however, category 1 scientists can encounter difficulty in gaining promotion because their duties, such as seed regeneration, evaluation, or oversight, do not necessarily lead to published research papers.
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MANAGING GLOBAL GENETIC RESOURCES: The U.S. National Plant Germplasm System Category 4 scientists are not covered by the Research Position Evaluation System. Instead, they are evaluated by ARS position classification specialists who use classification standards based on the administrative complexities of the job and the number of people supervised. Thus category 4 scientists can be limited in advancement by their job classification. Such limitations on service-oriented career advancement do not exist in parallel agencies, such as the Soil Conservation Service or the Forest Service. Category 4 positions are seen by NPGS scientists as professionally limiting, although they permit more freedom to address germplasm activities. PECAN PI 518116 Carya illinoinensis (Wangenh.) K. Koch GRIN Data Origin: Texas, United States of America Acquisition: Texas, United States of America Common name: Pecan NPGS received: December 21, 1987 Year PI assigned: 1988 Life form: Perennial Form received: Cuttings Improvement status: Wild Local names: San Saba, Eggshell (Texas), Papershell (Texas), Paper Shell, Risien, Risien's Paper Shell, Royal Risien's pecan tree still grows on the banks of the San Saba River, Texas. Credit: Tommy E. Thompson. Although its plant introduction number was assigned in 1988, PI 518116 has a history that dates back to the nineteenth century, with discovery by Edmond Risien, a trained cabinetmaker whose passion in life was the pecan. Risien came to the United States from England in 1872 and 2 years later settled in the central Texas town of San Saba on the banks of the San Saba River. At that time the town was a busy market center where wagonloads of buffalo meat, venison, and pecans were sold. Risien became interested in this native American nut, which grew throughout the region. He offered a $5
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MANAGING GLOBAL GENETIC RESOURCES: The U.S. National Plant Germplasm System The Cooperative State Research Service The Hatch Act (Public Law 84-352) mandates funding for regional research projects carried out jointly by regional plant introduction stations and state agricultural experiment stations. Funds from CSRS are allocated annually in accordance with the recommendations of the CSRS Committee of Nine (experiment station directors) and the respective regional associations of experiment station directors. The funds decline when overall appropriations are reduced. This regional line of authority and funding is largely independent of the ARS. prize to the person who could bring him a sample of the best pecan nut. Upon awarding his prize, Risien asked to see the tree from which the prizewinning nuts had come. To his horror, the owner had cut all but one limb from the tree in an effort to harvest all of its nuts. Risien was so taken with the quality of the pecans from this tree that he ultimately bought the land on which it grew as well as the surrounding 314 acres. The tree itself was situated on the banks of the San Saba River, at its confluence with the Colorado River. He named the tree, San Saba, and intended to develop a pecan orchard with nuts that had the shape, color, and thin shell he prized. He soon discovered that trees grown from San Saba seed varied tremendously in their size, shape, and growth characteristics. Nuts from these trees ripened at different times and were equally variable in shape, size, flavor, color, and shell thickness, with very few (reportedly only 2 of 1,000) bearing nuts of the sort he sought. Undaunted, Risien began a breeding, selection, and improvement effort that was to last until his death in 1940. The parent stock he used was the tree he had purchased or the trees grown from its cuttings or grafts. By crossing the tree with others and selecting among the offspring, he developed many popular varieties. One, Western Schley, occupies more than 75,000 acres of today's pecan orchards. About one-sixth of all grafted and budded pecan trees in the United States are descended directly from Risien's original tree. Cuttings from that tree have been propagated at the Brownwood repository and samples from them are used to trace parentage in pecans and to study the heritability of desirable traits. “GRIN Data” for the plant introduction (PI) number above represent information contained in the Germplasm Resources Information Network (GRIN). The narrative was prepared from information supplied by Larry J. Grauke, National Clonal Germplasm Repository, Brownwood, Texas, and Tommy E. Thompson, Agricultural Research Service, Brownwood.
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MANAGING GLOBAL GENETIC RESOURCES: The U.S. National Plant Germplasm System The funding of the regional stations through the CSRS is another example of decentralized management and the need for coordination. According to a survey (Table 3-2), CSRS provided $900,000 to the four regional stations and the Interregional Research Project-1 (potatoes) in fiscal year 1988. The ARS national program leader for plant germplasm has no authority over such funds and is only the advisory representative of a separate service. The CSRS is not represented on the GMT and does not presently have a staff position delegated to address plant genetic resources programs. State Agricultural Experiment Stations The state agricultural experiment stations are associated with the land-grant universities of the United States. They are linked in research reporting and federal funding through the CSRS, as noted above. Federal funding of the experiment stations is typically about 20 percent of their annual budgets. The remainder is derived from state government appropriations, gifts, contracts, and grants from individuals, organizations, and state crop commodity boards. The experiment stations carry out extensive basic and applied research programs. A large effort is dedicated to plant genetics, breeding, and germplasm enhancement. In 1986, for example, more than 2,600 research projects related to genetics and crop improvement were reported through CSRS. The experiment stations are sources of new varieties of many crops and contribute improved germplasm to private enterprise. They develop, evaluate, and introduce new crops and new products from existing crops for public use. The stations are major users of genetic resources. Based on data provided by CSRS, experiment station work on germplasm, of which nearly 70 percent was devoted to genetic analysis, enhancement, and variety development, totaled about $155 million in 1986 (C. O. Qualset and L. W. Gallagher, University of California at Davis, personal communication, June 1989). Collections at experiment stations include breeding lines, genetic stocks, landraces, and wild species related to cultivated crops. However, the degree to which the stations' collections duplicate those of the NPGS is not known. Some collections (see Table 2-5) are commonly considered to be part of the national system, but it is likely that many breeding lines and genetic stocks are not in NPGS collections. The experiment stations that host NPGS facilities have historically provided significant in-kind support. The relationship benefits the NPGS, which has access to facilities, services, and land to maintain its germplasm, while the experiment stations benefit from the increase in
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MANAGING GLOBAL GENETIC RESOURCES: The U.S. National Plant Germplasm System local scientific staff supported by ARS through the NPGS. Local contributions commonly include land, buildings, maintenance, computer and other support services, and library privileges. Unfortunately, the cooperative nature of an NPGS site and an experiment station may at times become strained. The extent of in-kind contributions to NPGS sites, such as laboratory, office, or greenhouse space, depend on budget realities at the stations. When their budgets decline or the competition for funds increases, in-kind contributions may be reduced or eliminated. Without additional funds from either CSRS or ARS, operations at NPGS sites suffer. Where a site depends on local cooperation and in-kind support for its activities, arrangements should be periodically reviewed by the NPGS. Cooperative agreements should clearly state the roles of federal and local cooperators, and they should be sufficiently long term as to be unaffected by changes in local priorities or needs. Collaborations are also adversely affected by delays in the implementation of cooperative agreements and in the annual process for congressional and administration approval of the federal budget. When passage of the budget is late, the receipt of funds by state scientists for cooperative research activities can be delayed by months beyond the appropriate time for critical germplasm operations, such as planting, thus preventing the purchase of needed supplies or the hire of necessary labor. Other USDA Cooperators The NPGS cooperates with USDA's Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) to operate the National Plant Germplasm Quarantine Center in Beltsville, Maryland. The Soil Conservation Service (SCS) of USDA evaluates NPGS accessions for their various soil conservation programs and may assist in some regeneration efforts. Representatives of APHIS and SCS may participate on various advisory committees in the NPGS, but these agencies provide no direct management or funding for the system. ADVISERS TO THE SYSTEM An earlier USDA review (U.S. Department of Agriculture, 1981) criticized the NPGS for lacking a clear understanding of the composition, responsibilities, guidelines, and limitations of its advisers. Some attempts have been made to reduce overlaps and conflict, but there is still no clear mechanism in the NPGS for using the advice of its many commit-
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MANAGING GLOBAL GENETIC RESOURCES: The U.S. National Plant Germplasm System tees. The composition and responsibilities of the principal advisory bodies are summarized below. The National Plant Genetic Resources Board The National Plant Genetic Resources Board (NPGRB) was established by the secretary of agriculture in 1975, in part because of the concerns expressed in the wake of both the 1970 corn blight and the release of the report, Genetic Vulnerability of Major Crops (National Research Council, 1972). The NPGRB meets at least twice a year and advises the secretary of agriculture and the officers of the National Association of State Universities and Land-Grant Colleges (National Plant Genetic Resources Board, 1984) on national policy related to the problems, needs, and welfare of the nation 's plant genetic resources activities as they affect the food production system. It also establishes priorities for safeguarding plant genetic resources. Members are scientists and administrators from the public and private sectors who are appointed by the secretary of agriculture to serve a 2-year term. They may be reappointed for two more consecutive terms. The board is chaired by the USDA assistant secretary for science and education; a vice-chair is appointed from its membership. The assistant secretary's office provides an executive secretary and financial and personnel support. As a federal advisory committee, the board must be rechartered periodically by the secretary of agriculture. The National Plant Germplasm Committee The National Plant Germplasm Committee (NPGC) emerged in 1974 from the previous New Crops Coordinating Committee, by mutual agreement of the ARS and the state agricultural experiment stations (Council for Agricultural Science and Technology, 1984; White et al., 1989), to represent the user community. It was intended to facilitate coordination among agencies and to be a source of information for administrators and program leaders working in or with the NPGS. Its members include scientists and administrators from the ARS, CSRS, experiment stations, and the private sector. According to its charter, the NPGC meets at least once a year, and its functions are the following (Jones and Gillette, 1982): Coordinate the research and service efforts of federal, state, and industry units engaged in the introduction, preservation, evaluation,
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MANAGING GLOBAL GENETIC RESOURCES: The U.S. National Plant Germplasm System and distribution of plant germplasm, through representation of all of the units' views by committee members. Develop policies for the conduct of the national plant germplasm program and for its relationships to international plant germplasm programs. Develop research and service proposals and justification for adequate funding of regional and national plant germplasm activities. Advocate mutually agreed upon proposals with experiment station associations and USDA agencies. Serve as the principal way in which station interests can be presented and harmonized with federal interests at a technically informed level. The Crop Advisory Committees Crop advisory committees are crop-specific groups that provide the NPGS with expert advice on germplasm collection, management, exploration, crop descriptors, evaluation, and enhancement. On the committees, crop specialists include breeders, geneticists, pathologists, and entomologists who are considered the best qualified to assess the status of collections, vulnerability, improvement efforts nationally, foreign scientific developments, the impact of new technology, and how well users' needs are met (National Plant Genetic Resources Board, 1984; Shands et al., 1989; White et al., 1989). Thirty-nine committees have been established. They are intended to review research plans; report on national and international developments; make recommendations on germplasm exploration, evaluation, and enhancement and on training, staffing, and facilities; and provide a forum for commodity groups to make their concerns known to the NPGS. The committees produce reports, analyses, and recommendations. Their reports vary in detail, accuracy, and comprehensiveness. They are received, compiled, and filed by the NPGS without organized review, analysis, or response. The reports are not widely disseminated or published in the scientific community, although very brief summaries appear in DIVERSITY, an international news journal for the plant genetic resources community published by Genetic Resources Communications Systems, Inc. The committee reports are not ignored, but there is no mechanism for using them to set national priorities and develop plans. The committees are administratively supported, in part, through the National Germplasm Resources Laboratory, but receive no travel or other operational support apart from an annual meeting of the chairs,
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MANAGING GLOBAL GENETIC RESOURCES: The U.S. National Plant Germplasm System curators, and other interested individuals funded by ARS. The committee members are volunteers who must either obtain funds to travel to meetings from other sources or pay for them personally. To facilitate attendance, meetings are often held in conjunction with other scientific or professional meetings. This approach, however, does not ensure the participation of all members. Technical Committees and Technical Advisory Committees Each regional plant introduction station receiving CSRS research funds has a regional technical committee (TC). An experiment station director serves as its regional administrative adviser, and its members include a representative from each experiment station in the region and representatives from participating USDA agencies. Other cooperating agencies, such as the Bureau of Land Management of the U.S. Department of the Interior, may also be represented. There are interregional administrative advisory committees for the two interregional research projects and an interregional committee that functions as a TC for each interregional project. These committees meet separately and function independently of other advisory groups concerned with the site. Technical advisory committees (TACs) provide advice on technical and scientific issues to clonal repositories. They do not exercise authority over programs at the site, but are a source of expert advice. A TAC is composed of individuals chosen for their scientific and technical expertise. For some sites a crop advisory committee may fulfill all or part of the TAC's role. The TCs and TACs are advisory to specific sites and independent of other advisory groups. TCs are responsible to CSRS, and are not under the purview of the national program leader for plant germplasm or any germplasm advisory group of the ARS. Thus, there is frequently a lack of coordination and leadership among advisory groups regarding national program requirements. The Plant Germplasm Operations Committee The PGOC includes the curators of the major collections, selected ARS research leaders, and the lead people from ARS-NPGS support offices (e.g., the National Germplasm Resources Laboratory). Its other members include representatives from the regional stations, repositories, NSSL, the National Small Grains Collection, and the cotton, soybean, and potato collections. The chair is elected by the committee from its membership. This committee has been effective in maintaining com-
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MANAGING GLOBAL GENETIC RESOURCES: The U.S. National Plant Germplasm System munication and promoting cooperation among NPGS sites. However, it has no administrative authority. The PGOC is an ARS group that translates administrative decisions into action. The PGOC discusses policy only as it relates to germplasm operations. Its members are involved in site management. The committee plans NPGS activities and its participants have a sense of cohesiveness. This is the only NPGS activity where the program leader exerts a strong degree of leadership and can directly affect NPGS activities.
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Representative terms from entire chapter: