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Frequently Asked Questions

Frequently Asked Questions:

Are 7000 series projects handled different?

All 7000 series projects for USDA NIFA grants are treated independently from the AES and USDA will work directly (via email) with the PI of the grant to obtain the necessary forms at the appropriate times.  Our office cannot see these projects in REEport and may not be able to troubleshoot problems or answer questions that may occur.  Questions regarding these projects can be sent to electronic@nifa.usda.gov

My project is due to terminate soon now what?

Before faculty begin the process to replace the existing project, they should consider whether or not a new project is necessary.  Does the research coincide with or complement another faculty's research?  Are there other faculty members in the college (not restricted to a specific unit) with whom they could join an existing project (excluding grants and administrative projects)?  Could a new project be written with collaboration that could provide consolidation of other projects?  Could an existing multi-state project (excluding coordinating committees) capture the research area sufficiently?

If there are no appropriate projects in place, the Pennsylvania Agricultural Experiment Station website at <http://agsci.psu.edu/research/ag-experiment-station> contains appropriate instructions forms pertaining to research projects.

What should I do if I forget my password for the NIFA Portal/REEport?

Log into the NIFA portal (http://portal.nifa.usda.gov) and enter your email address and click the “Reset Password” link.  You will receive an email with instructions and a temporary password.

I didn’t activate my password in REEport, how do I activate it?

Log into the NIFA portal (http://portal.nifa.usda.gov) and enter your email address and click the “Reset Password” link.  You will receive an email with instructions and a temporary password.

I don’t think I have an account on the NIFA Portal/REEport, what should I do?

Please contact your department’s AES Coordinator. The AES Coordinator should be able to check REEport to see if an account exists.  If it does, he/she will be able to provide you the email address assigned to your account. With that email address, you will be able to reset your password by logging into the NIFA portal (http://portal.nifa.usda.gov) clicking the “Reset Password” link.  You will receive an email with instructions and a temporary password.

If you do not have an account on the NIFA Portal/REEport, your AES Coordinator will contact the AES to get an account established.  At that time you will receive an email from REEport with an account verification link specific to your account/email address.

Why are Ag Experiment Station (AES) projects created?

All research in the College must be conducted under a properly approved U. S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) project. This ensures that each scientist's research is accurately represented in the USDA's national research information system and the information is available world-wide to the scientific community.

How are AES projects funded?

Projects are financed through state and federal appropriations or extramural grants and contracts from the federal government, state government, private industry and foundations, gifts, and internally funded competitive programs.

Why are the FTEs that were reported to USDA different than what I had entered?

The FTE (SY, PY, TY, AY, and Other) numbers may be audited by USDA.  Therefore, we have to report the data that Administrative Services has captured and reported on the annual Financial Reports to USDA.  The AES will change the numbers on any progress or termination report to match the FTES previously reported. Some of the FTE breakdowns are new requirements by USDA and our Administrative Services unit will adapt our reporting to be address those changes.  Likewise, it is sometimes confusing for faculty to determine an amount of FTE as it would include any person that would have a portion of their salary charged to the project (i.e. full-time staff equivalent appointments less than 1 FTE, 48 week appointments considered a 1.33 FTE, etc.).  On grants, it may be a little easier than other projects, but we will handle all projects consistently in our office.

What gets included in opportunities for training and professional development?

Include activities provided to anyone who was involved in the activities of the project.

What is to be entered in the section listed as “Other Products”?

Enter activities, events, services, and products that reach people not necessarily on the project.

What constitutes a ‘reviewer’ on an AES project:

If an individual is an Investigator, Advisory Committee Member, or a Collaborator on the project, they CANNOT be utilized as reviewers.  Reviewers are individuals, with knowledge in the proposed area, that are not involved in the project.  Without ties to the project, they can objectively, without bias, rate the proposal on the required elements.  In summary, if a person is listed in the Personnel section of the Proposal, they should not be a reviewer.

Clarification on FTE section of REEport:

The REEport system provides us the opportunity to select ‘Nothing to Report” on the Progress and Final Reports.  However, we’ve received word that FTEs need to be reported.  Until USDA can update the system, we are going to take the following approach on the FTE sections for all projects (Hatch, Multistate Hatch, McIntyre Stennis, Special Grants, etc.) that are processed through our office:  Project Initiation:  These are required estimates for a five-year period of time; whatever is entered by the PI (within reason), will be submitted to USDA without adjustments.  Progress and Final Reports:  Faculty and AES Coordinators can continue to check the “Nothing to Report” button for this section as it will be completed by the AES staff.  The official numbers for the Actual FTEs are auditable.  While faculty may know some of the numbers to report, we report the numbers based on actual expenditures charged to the project number for the duration of the report.  There are a number of confusing elements that go into this FTE grid – i.e. it includes any person that would have a portion of their salary charged to the project, not all individuals have full FTE (36-week faculty = 1.0 FTE, 48 week faculty = 1.33 FTE).  Because of all this confusion, the AES will change the numbers on any progress or termination report to match the FTES calculated by Administrative Services.

What does "Please treat this grant as INDEPENDENT for the Pennsylvania State University" mean?

New USDA grants are no longer required to be run through the AES office and are to be treated INDEPENDENTLY for The Pennsylvania State University.  This allows all employees at Penn State, regardless of their college affiliation, to process the necessary REEport forms the same way.  This will also avoid any unnecessary delay in submitting documents to USDA as it will not require AES office review and approval. When you hit the submit button, it will be automatically submitted back to USDA.

USDA will work directly with you to obtain the necessary forms (project initiations, progress reports, or final reports) at the appropriate times. Please note that after the responses to REEport/NIFA that the project is to be treated as INDEPENDENT; it may take up to two weeks for the project initiation shell to be created in REEport.  When you log into REEport, you will need to select the Pennsylvania State University independent portion of the portal (not the SAES – The Pennsylvania State University link).