Policy & Procedures

Policies and Procedures Background

Policies & Procedures (P&P) were developed by the NPMTI Networking & Facilitation Office (NFO) in conjunction with the Executive Committee (EC).  They were first approved by the Steering Committee (SC) on August 4, 2020.

See XIV.A for the process to amend Policies and Procedures


The overall goals of NPMTI are to:

  1. ensure crop sustainability and crop quality;
  2. improve soil health;
  3. monitor pathogens and microbial diversity in the environment, including, but not limited to, crop residues, soils, and air;
  4. improve disease management, thereby reducing yield losses;
  5. increase precision of in-season disease management tactics; and
  6. work towards eliminating the indiscriminate use of pesticides.

NPMTI Hypothesis

In-season risk for plant disease development can be improved to near real-time by developing a comprehensive and coherent modeling tool that integrates:

  1. pre-season pathogen inoculum density in the field;
  2. superior crop/host genetics;
  3. the effects of soil type and other agronomic factors on pathogen inoculum density;
  4. an air monitoring system for wind-borne pathogens;
  5. meteorological (and other agronomic data) in a coherent information and decision support system;
  6. the use of other artificial intelligence platforms (e.g., unmanned aerial vehicles); and
  7. information from historic outbreaks for specific plant diseases.

NPMTI will incorporate monitoring techniques to address all sides of the “plant disease triangle” concept to provide a more precise predictive tool for in-season disease risk. In turn, this will help to achieve the goals listed above.

NPMTI Deliverable Methodology – click here

  • Academic Laboratories
  • Service Laboratories

NPMTI Action Plan

A.      Year One of the NPMTI (2020) will focus on key diseases of three agronomically important crops: corn, cotton, and wheat. Project funding decisions during year one will be consensus driven, depending largely on the recommendations to the USDA-ARS of the Executive Committee (EC) in consultation with the Steering Committee (SC) and the Research Area Committees (RAC), which represent a broad spectrum of stakeholders for a particular crop or commodity, including the end users (farmers and consultants) of the research.

B.      It is the intention that starting in USDA-ARS FY2021, funding permitting, additional annual row crops and new diseases will be added on a Request for Proposal (RFP) basis as recommended to the USDA-ARS by the EC, in consultation with the SC.

C.      In year one (2020), a 5-Year Action Plan will be developed by the SC that will help to guide the RFP process. The 5-Year Action Plan will aggregate the action plans of individual RACs, looking at research objectives and potential results of years one, two and five for the RACs as well as the plans for the Collaborating Organizations (see VIII.A below). The expected outcomes of the Action Plan (AP) are improved research planning and accountability for USDA-ARS funding, greater collaboration among researchers, better communication with NPMTI stakeholders and public at large, and more rapid attainment of NPMTI goals (see II above).

D.      The Action Plan is a dynamic document and therefore will continue to evolve and change as needed.

  1. See XIV.B for the process to amend the 5-Year Action Plan.

NPMTI Governing Procedures

shall be based on Robert’s Rules of Order for all committee meetings and conference calls (RAC, SC, and EC).

NPMTI Transgenic Management Policy

When operating with NPMTI funds, all Principal Investigators (PI) and other researchers must manage gene-edited plants according to USDA-APHIS Biotechnology Regulatory Service (BRS) guidelines and standards for transgenic plant work.

Structure of NPMTI Committees and the Administrative Office

  1. Overview – NPMTI committees are structured in tiers. Crops and associated commodity groups are represented by Research Area Committees (RAC). The Steering Committee (SC) is comprised of select members of each RAC (see IX.A.1e below), along with representation from the two collaborating organizations (CO): Los Alamos National Laboratory (LANL), and the National Agricultural Genotyping Center (NAGC). LANL will house and aggregate, to a common protocol, all sources of data that are submitted by each PI. LANL also will leverage and adapt appropriate LANL tools for decision support. These data will be available only to NPMTI collaborators (as defined in V.A above), while operating under standard IP rights, where appropriate. NAGC will provide prescribed testing services to each RAC without charge, thus allowing the RAC to focus its resources on field-based research, data collection, and analysis. SC makes recommendations to the Executive Committee (EC), which is comprised of the chair (and potentially co-chair) of each RAC, as well as representatives from the two COs, along with administrative support of the Networking & Facilitation Office (NFO). The EC makes funding recommendations to the USDA-ARS.
  2. Funding Parameters – Agricultural Appropriations budgeting is a dynamic one in which funding can vary from year to year. USDA-ARS has established guidelines for funding of national initiatives (see Appendix A). Each year, membership in SC and EC will be based on the funding amount the RAC is allocated through the RFP process. The RAC will earn one seat on the SC for each $100,000 of research funding the RAC receives (see IX.A.1e for specifics).

Roles of NPMTI Committees and the Administrative Office – click here

  • Research Area Committees (RAC)
  • Steering Committee (SC)
  • Executive Committee (EC)
  • Networking & Facilitation Office (NFO)

Research Plan and Budget Process (RP&BP)/Request for Proposal (RFP) Process – click here

Development of Program Descriptions & Research Priorities
Development of the Request for Proposals (RFP)
Distribution and advertisement of Request for Proposals
RFP participation is open to any member of an RAC, including the RAC, SC, and EC members
Review Process
Funding Recommendation
Handling and Storage of Proposals

Data Management – click here

Public Access to Data

Reporting of Progress

USDA-ARS contractually requires a Final Performance Report (FPR) for all Research Grant Agreements (RGA) be accessible to the public.  Therefore, the FPR shall be made available through the NPMTI website.

A.    Purpose – Accountability and real-time communication among scientists.

B.    Process

  1. PIs are required to submit a Performance Report (PR) for each single year an award is received. A final report (FPR) is required at the end of the final year of the Research Agreement.
  2. The NFO, working with the EC and USDA-ARS, will generate the PR and FPR forms, which will be sent to the PIs in August. PIs shall submit one electronic version of the PR, with signature, to the NFO by mid-September. The NFO shall forward the PRs to USDA-ARS’s Grants and Agreements Management Branch (GAMB). Reports are due no later than September 30.

Annual Meeting (AM) / Spring Meeting

A.      Date and Site Selection.

  1. The Executive Committee will select AM dates and the city in which it will be held.
  2. Prior to finalizing the dates, feedback from the NPMTI community will be solicited for possible conflicts with other events.

B.      Development of AM Program.

  1. The Steering Committee will appoint an AM Organizing Committee, which should include members from each research area, to develop the research sessions for the AM.
  2. Speakers (if any) for the AM Program should be finalized 60 days prior to the AM.

C.    The SC shall approve the general format, date, and location of the Spring Meeting.


A.    Process for amending Policies & Procedures (P&P)

  1. During 2020, the inaugural year of NPMTI, changes can be made as needed
  2. Thereafter, the EC will review P&P annually and recommend P&P changes to the SC
  3. P&P may be amended one time per year at the NPMTI Annual Meeting
  4. Any member of the SC may request changes to the P&P
  5. The EC will review all suggested changes submitted 30 days prior to the Annual Meeting. If the EC agrees with suggested changes, the changes will be incorporated into the current P&P, and then submitted to the SC for final consideration
  6. Any non-policy changes (i.e., language changed to bring in line with current policy) to the P&P require only approval by the EC
  7. The EC will inform SC of all requested changes, including any that were not recommended to be incorporated into the P&P


B.    Process for Amending Action Plan (AP)

  1. During 2020, the inaugural year of NPMTI, changes can be made as needed.
  2. Thereafter, each RAC is responsible for reviewing and voting on the proposed changes to the AP. The chair of each RAC will obtain a simple majority vote of the proposed changes to the AP from the ratified members of the RAC 30 days prior to the Spring SC Meeting.
  3. Any member of the SC may also request changes to the AP.
  4. The NFO will then incorporate the proposed changes into the AP document and circulate it to the relevant RAC committee members, researchers, and stakeholders for further discussion and review at spring planning meetings/conference calls.
  5. Once agreement with the proposed changes is reached within the RAC, they will be presented to the SC, preferably at its Spring Meeting, for final approval.