One of the critical issues facing government agencies is their ability to share materials/samples needed by different agencies to fulfill their missions.
This issue is even a major problem within sister agencies that need information from each other to accomplish mission-related functions. This lack of cooperation is primarily the result of concerns over publication rights, ownership and presentation of incomplete data. The Animal Plant Health and Inspection Service (APHIS) and the Agricultural Research Service (ARS) are sister agencies under the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA).
The Plant Protection and Quarantine Division (PPQ) of APHIS and the Crop Production and Protection (CPP) within the Office of National Programs of ARS depend on each other to share and transfer materials to fulfill their missions for the agricultural industry. In addition, Veterinary Service (VS), another division of APHIS, and Animal Production and Protection (APP) within the ARS Office of National Programs must share materials and samples to meet their mission objectives. APHIS PPQ’s mission is to safeguard the health and marketability of U.S. agriculture and natural resources, while ARS CPP’s mission is to deliver science-based information for protecting plants from diseases and pests, and enhancing crop productivity and sustainability. PPQ, a regulatory division of USDA, needs early development data from CPP on any research conducted on emerging threats to the agricultural industry.
The Animal Plant Health and Inspection Service (APHIS) and the Agricultural Research Service (ARS) are sister agencies under the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA).
In 2014, APHIS and ARS signed an Interagency Agreement that established ARS as the provider of technology transfer support to APHIS and supported collaborative efforts between the agencies. With this collaborative effort, the nominees for this award set the goal of developing a sample and data sharing agreement/instrument that would be agreeable between the parties’ scientists and administration. The sharing of data and material may seem simple in the general concept; however, personal goals, concerns and agency policies played an import role in the challenges faced while negotiating this agreement.
To reach across a large number of federal agencies seemed an impossible task; however, the nominees felt that using a top-down approach an agreement could be developed to accomplish the needs and goals of just two agencies, APHIS and ARS. Once the parameters of an agreement were settled upon, a draft agreement was developed and sent to all parties (scientists included) for review and comment. All comments were reviewed and renegotiated, and a final draft was developed for final review. Implantation of the agreement was completed, and numerous material and data transfer agreements between the agencies are now in place.
The two parties have now used this model to negotiate a sample sharing agreement with another government agencies outside USDA and plan to use this approach to work with others.