Most of the Department of Agriculture's scientists probably hang out at the Agricultural Research Service (ARS). The service is the department's primary scientific research agency, tasked with finding solutions to everyday agricultural problems. The ARS encompasses some 1,200 research projects within more than 20 national programs and employs 2,100 scientists. Besides making food safe, the ARS assesses the country's nutritional needs and studies ways to sustain a competitive agricultural economy. Scientists partner with universities as well as the private sector to carry out their research.