National Research Initiative Competitive Grants Program, Cooperative State Research, Education, and Extension Service, United States Department of Agriculture, Room 323 Aerospace Center, AG Box 2241, Washington, D.C. 20250-2241, (202) 401-5022, The National Research Initiative Competitive Grants Program (NRICGP) is the office in the Cooperative State Research, Education, and Extension Service (CSREES) of the USDA charged with funding research on key problems of national and regional importance in biological, environmental, physical, and social sciences relevant to agriculture, food, and the environment on a peer-reviewed, competitive basis. The NRICGP supports a spectrum of research ranging from basic, fundamental questions relevant to agriculture in the broad sense to research that bridges the basic and applied sciences and results in pratical outcomes. Competition is open to scientists at all academic institutions, Federal research agencies, private and industrial organizations, and those individuals qualified but not affiliated with one of the aforementioned organizations. In Fiscal Year 1995, the NRICGP recieved 3,214 proposals requesting funds totaling over $672 million. Funding was available to support 783 grants totaling $93,796,282. The success rate was 22 percent (not including conferences or previously obligated funds), and the average grant award for regular research programs was $127,773 with an average duration of 2.1 years. Included in NRICGP award funding is over $17 million in Agricultural Research Enhancement Awards (AREA) in FY95. These included Individual Postdoctoral Fellowships, New Investigator Awards, Standard Strengthening Awards (made through the individual research programs) and Strengthening Awards (made through the Stregnthening Program and composed of Research Career Enhancement Awards, Equipment Grants, and Seed Grants). The NRICGP also is an ongoing cosponsor of the DOE/NSF/USDA Joint Program on Collaborative Research in Plant Biology, the NSF/DOE/NASA/USDA Joint Program on Terrestrial Ecology and Global Change, and the Arabidopsis thaliana Genome Sequencing Project - NSF/DOE/USDA Joint Program.