Key features of U.S. agri-environmental programs are reviewed and analyzed using literature review and program data. We focus, in particular, on several key questions: Has benefit-cost targeting increased the environmental benefit obtained from program budgets? Has competitive bidding reduced program costs? To what extent have these program designs resulted in additional gain (that would not have otherwise been obtained)? Previous research illustrates how benefit-cost targeting using environmental indices (such as the Environmental Benefits Index in the Conservation Reserve Program) can increase environmental cost-effectiveness. Previous research and data from two U.S. programs suggests that bidding has reduced costs, but that the full potential of bidding may not have been realized. Finally, most U.S. programs are intended to yield environmental gains that would not have otherwise been obtained, but sometimes fall short of this goal.