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Posts Tagged: Wendy Powers

ANR develops cost-recovery strategy to improve REC facilities

UC ANR leadership is proud of its outstanding network of nine Research and Extension Centers across the state. Including academic salaries and temporary funding, UC ANR invests close to $14 million annually in the REC system. We are committed to continuing to make an investment of this magnitude, recognizing the importance of each individual REC, and the REC system to our research and extension missions. 

A freeze on state operations and maintenance funding since 2006, and a virtual absence of deferred maintenance funds, necessitates a close look at how the annual investment is used so as to position the RECs for a long, successful future. UC ANR leadership is taking the long view to its programmatic collaboration and growth. As a result, we are developing a strategy for cost recovery to continue to operate and improve the facilities so that we can better serve researchers and their research and extension activities – well into the next decade, not just the next three to five years.

Key attributes of the strategy include:

  • Improved clarity of how full-cost research rates are calculated and how researcher costs are derived, based on a researcher's specific and agreed upon needs for labor and facilities
  • Establishment of rates four to six months in advance of the effective date for the rate (i.e. rates published in January for projects beginning in July, or some variation thereof) in recognition of the need to project costs in advance of research start date
  • Development of a cost structure that reflects different project needs and differences in costs required to support the needs
  • Ability to confirm researcher costs for specific, itemized research needs over a multi-year timeframe at time of proposal submission to a funding agency

A move to this new way of calculating research rates will take some time to establish across all nine RECs. Our goal is to have this rolled out between January and March 2018 and to go into effect for any projects (new, renewed or expanded usage) beginning July 1, 2018. This is an ambitious goal given the review and approval process in place that ensures fairness of proposed methodology and charges. However, we are committed to making this a high priority in order to improve the research experience.

To assess feasibility of the approach, the Desert REC will move to a new model in the very near term and serve as a pilot study for the July 1, 2017 – June 30, 2018 timeframe. The new model includes different rates for different services (land, water, pesticides, labor, etc.). The new model applies at Desert REC for both new and continuing projects and provides the opportunity to identify any issues early on and make the necessary adjustments. The remaining RECs will develop research rates for REC services over the next few months and the new model will be refined and adapted in 2018-2019 for the remaining eight RECs.

For 2017-2018, researchers continuing projects at all RECs, except Desert REC and West Side REC, should plan on an additional 10 percent to their 2016-2017 research rate to cover increases in salaries and benefit rates and reflect a reduced subsidy by center funds applied to the full cost rate. New and renewed projects will be billed at a researcher rate of $27.46 per hour. A new project is one that has not been submitted to, and approved by, the REC previously. This higher rate reflects the need to reduce the subsidy applied to the full cost rate.

Researchers at West Side REC will be billed at a rate 10 percent above the 2016-2017 West Side REC research rate for all projects.

Developing a new strategy for setting research rates based on different rates for different services will take time, thus the decision to move forward as outlined above. The pilot assessment at Desert REC will illustrate the impacts of a new strategy on both researchers and business operations and help identify best practices to support the transition to a new strategy. We are committed to maintaining a system of RECs that are positioned to address present and emerging research needs for the long term and meet the planning needs of researchers.

Research and Extension Center

New projects and projects renewed at the end of the 3-year cycle

Continuing projects (2nd and 3rd year)

Desert REC

Charges based on services utilized (acreage, water, labor etc.)

West Side

2016-17 rate + 10%

2016-17 rate + 10%

Hansen, Hopland, Intermountain, Kearney, Lindcove, Sierra Foothill, South Coast


2016-17 rate + 10%

Wendy Powers 
Associate Vice President for Agriculture and Natural Resources 

Posted on Monday, September 25, 2017 at 12:07 PM

Your input requested for condition changes

Wendy Powers
As part of the current effort to align our work such that we are best positioned to achieve the 2025 Strategic Vision, a group of UC ANR academics have drafted condition changes that are now in need of your review and feedback.

Condition changes are those long-term outcomes of our work that are the evidence of how our work makes a difference. Condition changes are at a level higher than that of the personal benefit our clientele receive as a result of direct participation in our programs. Rather, the condition change represents environmental, health, or economic benefits at a societal level (e.g. improved water quality, improved nutrition and health, increased market opportunities, etc.).

How you can provide feedback

Program Team Leaders, Statewide Program Directors, Institute Directors and Strategic Initiative Leaders have worked together to develop the current list of condition changes. They will be reaching out to you to solicit your input. I would ask that you share your thoughts with those who reach out to you and they will collate all feedback they receive and provide it back through a Collaborative Tools site so that the development team can see the feedback as it is received. In early October, we will assemble all of the feedback and make decisions how to move forward.

Why this is important to you?

The final list of condition changes will be coded into the new Project Board (UC ANR program information system that will be replacing DANRS-X and integrated with the merit and promotion process for UC ANR academics. We will be asking academics to assign a percentage of time you spend working towards the condition changes. This will replace assigning your FTE to the federal Knowledge Areas. In addition, you will be tagging condition changes to your work when you write your outcome/impact narratives. You will be able to tag multiple condition changes to a single narrative provided you have quantitative evidence of the effected condition change.

How will this information be used?

The condition changes will be used in multiple ways. First, the condition changes and aggregated effort associated with each condition change will be used to determine if we have sufficient capacity working towards the changes needed to achieve our 2025 Strategic Vision. This will help guide future investments by UC ANR and help you, as an individual, identify priorities for directing your own effort. Second, the outcome/impact narratives that are tagged to specific condition changes will provide us the evidence needed to share all of your good work with supporters. The condition changes will serve as a sorting mechanism for the outcomes/impact narratives. The narratives themselves provide quantitative evidence of your outcomes including how they contribute to condition change indicators, as well as frame the work (what was done, where, why, who were the partners, etc.). Because of the intended uses of the information, it is important that we have a complete set of condition changes that represent the work we need to do to achieve our vision.

Why the rush?

The new Project Board is on track for roll out in March. In order to have the condition changes be part of Project Board and not a separate, additional reporting request, we need to have them coded in the system. The development team has indicated that they need the information in early October. Therefore, we are requesting that all Program Team Leaders provide their collective feedback (1 document per Program Team) by October 1. We will review the feedback, draw up a revised list of condition changes, and have that turned around to the Project Board team quickly.

What happens after the feedback is provided?

We will continue to talk about condition changes and condition change indicators throughout the fall and into spring. We are planning to offer training in the winter and spring to address condition changes, condition change indicators and how they tie to Public Value Statements that are currently in draft form. The Public Value Statements will be reviewed and modified yet this fall. If you have interest in being part of a small-ish group that will review and revise the Public Value Statements, please let me know via email. Note that condition change indicators and public value statements will not be part of the reporting in Project Board or any other form; only condition changes will be reported against in Project Board.

Tips to consider

  • Condition changes must be measurable; condition change indicators are the metrics used to quantify the magnitude of change in a condition
  • Condition changes should not be audience-specific but rather apply to any/all of our audiences as appropriate
  • While I am an incurable ‘lumper' it is best to be a ‘splitter' when it comes to condition changes because it provides greater clarity as to what the evidence that support change really is and will allow for improved aggregation of your impact stories making it easier to share your work with others (easier to find, easier to understand and convey appropriately).
  • Having more, rather than fewer, condition changes in Project Board will not cause you to have to report the same thing in multiple locations – the coding is planned to provide opportunity to use multiple tags for the same report.

A generic logic model used for reporting to USDA National Institute for Food and Agriculture can be viewed at


Wendy Powers
Associate Vice President


Posted on Monday, September 25, 2017 at 9:03 AM
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