Section 4.7 Relationships with Other Agencies
Since University of Maine Cooperative Extension receives funds appropriated by Congress for the conduct of UMaine Extension’s work, it is illegal to divert those funds to another agency. Any work with other agencies can be justified only if it contributes to Extension program objectives.
As a member of United States Department of Agriculture, National Institute of Food and Agriculture (USDA NIFA), Extension has a special responsibility to cooperate with other NIFA agencies. Extension responsibilities include maintaining awareness of other NIFA agency programs, calling these programs to our clients’ attention, and developing cooperative programs as appropriate and mutually beneficial.
Extension may find it productive to cooperate with other kinds of agencies in certain circumstances. Recognizing that precise regulations cannot apply in all situations, the following series of questions should be used as guidelines for making decisions about working with other agencies:
- What is Extension’s position in relation to the activity? Considerations should include the Extension Plan of Work; established priorities, philosophies, and policies; legalities; executive committee support; Extension’s mission; and the appropriateness of the activity.
- Will recognition of Extension’s role be evident to the public, client groups, and other agencies involved? Will Extension’s identity be maintained?
- What is the educational value to clients? Who will the program or activity benefit, and to what extent? Will new, diverse or underserved client groups be reached?
- Does Extension have the human and material resources to become involved with another agency in a particular program, project or activity?
- Is there a demonstrated or documented need for the program, project or activity?
Serving on Boards of Other Agencies and Organizations
Staff members should not hold official positions in organizations with which Extension works, except rarely or for periods having short duration. Extension responsibilities can be best carried out by informal working relationships with organizations in support of our broad educational mission to reach all interested Maine citizens.
Memorandums of Understanding
When working with other agencies or organizations it may be necessary to create formal agreements or memorandums of understanding (MOU). The Executive Director is the only person authorized to sign an MOU in behalf of Extension. Should it be necessary to write an MOU for Extension and another agency, staff should seek the guidance and support of their Program Administrator (PA). Copies of all MOUs are on file in the financial administrator’s office.
USDA State Emergency Board
The NIFA state emergency board is chaired by the state executive director of NRCS and comprises representatives of NIFA agencies serving the state. Its purpose is to coordinate NIFA assistance in response to crises. Its functions are related through the deputy director for intergovernmental affairs, NIFA, Washington, DC, to the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), which is the single agency responsible for coordinating federal emergency management.
The Extension Director is a member of the Maine NIFA state emergency board, which meets annually. NIFA county emergency boards are chaired by the county executive director of NRCS. Extension’s role in emergency assistance is to provide information and communication functions.