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The Association has developed several new concepts and procedures to enhance effectiveness and to take up a broader agenda for making better use of the organization in meeting the needs of individual Directors. Fiscal exigencies in many of the member states places an urgent demand on more effective regional cooperation. Directors have concluded that a better balance is needed between top-down (problem) and scientist generated (disciplinary) regional research. Clearly, the maximum advantage of the Association can be gained if it is concerned with the total research resources of the region, not just the Regional Research Funds.

Effective linkages within the region and at the national level are needed to make maximum use of resources and to influence the agenda to the advantage of the members of the Association. Especially with severe fiscal constraints, there is need for creating more resource mobility at the regional level to address common problems and to promote early activity on high priority areas. Better involvement of the best scientists in regional activities is needed and should be stimulated. More thoughtful planning in the proactive mode is a critical component in any strategy to address these issues.

A Strategic Plan for the Association, developed and used as a working management tool, is the ``alpha and the omega'' of a modernized management system for the Southern Directors. It is the mechanism for developing broad consensus among Directors on what should be done; it is a communication device to make this consensus known among the various stakeholders; and is a means of evaluating progress.

For a plan to be an effective management tool, there must be a close linkage between planners and operators. This linkage is accomplished by the Planning Groups and the Southern Regional Research Planning Committee. These Planning Groups have pivotal responsibilities in developing the Strategic Plan and in using the Plan for the array of various activities that make up the business of the Association. Every member of the Association is a member of a Planning Group.

Goals of the Planning Process:

Enhancing the planning and operating concepts and procedures for the Association has the following goals:

  • Identifying and developing consensus on issues, opportunities, and problems with a sense of relative priority,
  • Better guidance to scientists and administrators through regional strategic planning,
  • Stronger regional input to national planning and resource allocation,
  • Improved methods for early quality decisions on proposals,
  • More effective evaluation of productivity and balance of regional activities,
  • Enhanced resources for initiation of regional activities.

Organization of the Planning Committee:

The Chairs of each Planning Group are members of the Southern Regional Planning Committee, which is the Executive Committee of the six Planning Groups. The Chair of the Planning Committee is one of the SAAESD members to the ESCOP-USDA Strategic Planning Subcommittee.

The six Planning Groups correspond to the six major areas of the Southern Strategic Plan. This structure links the planning process to the broad elements of the base programs at both the national and state levels.

The six Planning Groups are:

  • Environment and Natural Resources
  • Nutrition, Food Safety, and Health
  • Processes and Products
  • Economic and Social Issues
  • Animal Systems
  • Plant Systems


Virtually all of the linkages to the Planning Committee and its product are two-directional. The Committee is involved with ESCOP. Linkages to and from the individual state members of the Association are expressed via the planning process. Future strategies call for a better linkage with users as well as various political constituencies at the regional level. Inputs are received from these interfaces and used to develop the general tenets of the regional research plan. Needs and opportunities of the region are manifest in inputs to regional and national planning that come from the Association's plan.

The plan and the operational activities of the Association are brought together by the involvement of members of the Planning Committee in the review and recommendations on proposed regional activities and in the evaluation of balance and productivity resulting from these activities.


The primary product of the Planning Committee is a working "forward-rolling" document that lays out a strategy for the Association and the interrelationships of its members. This plan will have two major compartments: (1) a plan for the base programs of the Association and (2) a description of the issues and opportunities that should be addressed by the members of the Association. This combination is intended to provide a stability of vision for the base programs and the kinds of funding that support them along with a dynamic picture of the current and changing needs of the region for the products of research and development.

The planning process influences the national planning agenda. In turn, the national plan serves as a general template for the Strategic Plan, where part of the analysis is an interpretation of the implications of the national plan on the region.

From the Strategic Plan come the inputs to ESCOP. The plan forms a basis for identifying the important areas from which examples of accomplishments are be sought to evaluate and demonstrate progress and productivity. The Planning Committee is involved with the ongoing portfolio analysis of regional activities to assess its relevance, balance and direction.

Applications and Uses:

The products of the Planning Committee will have multiple applications and uses. The Strategic Plan, and the Committees ongoing use of the Plan in the operational mode, will be central to the following:

  • Analysis of the current regional activity portfolio and the summary of total research investments drawn from analysis of the CRIS.
  • Guidance, review and approval of proposed new activities taken up by the Association, including projects considered for support with regional research funds. The plan will impact the thinking of the Southern Regional Research Committee (SRRC) and its input to the Committee of Nine.
  • The evaluation, review and approval of SERAs and other joint activities in the region.
  • The evaluation, review and approval of new or continuing activities proposed by Directors.
  • The ongoing evaluation of the progress of current regional activities at the state and regional level by administrative advisors and individual directors.

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Maintained by: Donna Pearce, Assistant to the Director