SLUO Executive Committee Meeting

Revised Minutes (version 2) from the SLUO Exec Board meeting, 17 October 2003

Present from SLUO: Ray Cowan, Sridhara Dasu, Eduardo do Coute e Silva, Gregory Dubois-Felsmann, Olga Iakovleva, Homer Neal (by conference phone), Eli Rosenberg, Bruce Schumm, Gabriella Sciolla, Fran Spiller, Eric Torrence, and Amanda Weinstein.

Apologies: Phil Burrows, Berrie Giebels, John Harton, Yury Kolomensky, Krishna Kumar, and Gautier Hamel de Monchenault.

Visitors: Uwe Bergmann (SSRL UO Exec Board Chair) and Abi Soffer (YPP representative).

1. Welcome of New Members

The meeting began at 9:00 AM with Eliís welcome to the new Executive Board members, Berrie Giebels (not present), Bruce Schumm, Eric Torrence, and Gregory Dubois-Felsmann. There was some discussion regarding our usual yearly meeting schedule (four "in-person" meetings, roughly quarterly, including the institutional representatives meeting during the SLUO Annual Meeting in the summer). This was contrasted with the FNAL UO Executive Board meetings which are monthly. It was noted that SLAC pays travel costs for us to attend our meetings.

2. Information

As funding decreases, a higher level of cooperation among the several users groups is occurring, particularly in seeking increases in funding for the DoE Office of Science.

Steve Rock has written a letter asking SLUO for help with the End Station A program. Three experiments have been approved but are not funded.

Visa problems are an issue at BNL and other sites. Fran and Gabriella are to attend the annual meeting of User Facility Administrators, October 27-28, 2003, at BNL, where the visa issue is on the agenda. It is desired to coordinate visa issues between the sites.

The Scientific Policy Committee would like all users to work together. In the case of SLUO and SSRLUO, it was noted that there is some overlap of interests and needs, but perhaps not as much as expected. Different physics, different experimental timescales, and different funding sources limit the effectiveness of this idea. We can, however, cooperate more effectively on those issues we have in common: housing, healthcare, restrictions affecting foreign visitors, and ease of access to facilities.

3. Young Particle Physicists Report

Abi gave a detailed PowerPoint presentation covering several topics that YPP is involved in, including a strong mentoring effort for high school students who participate in research at SLAC.

After the YPP presentation, the discussion turned to our efforts to increase awareness of need for increased support of basic sciences research, which includes the Washington, DC, trip. It was noted that it is very important to be aware of issues about the propriety of using federal resources to lobby the federal government. For instance, never use SLAC email for this purpose. Some universities may also not want their domain names to be used in email sent for lobbying purposes. The best solution is to use personal home email.

4. Statements from Out-going Members

Sridhara recommends that a good fraction of the SLUO Exec Board make the Washington trip. He also created the health insurance survey form, and showed it at the meeting. Some suggestions were made and were incorporated into the form by the end of the meeting.

At this point there was a lengthy discussion about the healthcare situation for both domestic and foreign visitors. It was thought that it is very important for us to explain why we are doing the survey (to help users get insurance, not to force them to get it). Must foreign visitors satisfy any health insurance requirements to obtain a visa? Can students have routine medical care performed at SLAC medical? Can visitors buy into a SLAC and/or Stanford insurance program?

5. Election of New Chair & Coordinator of Committees

The tradition that the Coordinator of Committees typically is elected Chair the following year was explained. The idea is that a new SLUO EC member is elected Coordinator of Committees during his/her first year on the SLUO Exec Board; that person is then expected to be elected as Chair during their second year, and then during their third year serve as advisor to the new Chair.

This tradition was followed and Gabriella was elected Chair, succeeding Eli. Gregory was elected the new Coordinator of Committees. Bruce was elected Secretary/Treasurer.

It was noted that in the SLUO election last month, 243 votes were cast, 30 more than the previous year.

6. Topics to Discuss with the Directorate

Topics listed were: the need for a review process for computing security decisions made by SLAC Computing Services; the need for increased evening thru midnight shuttle service from SLAC to nearby locations, to accommodate the shift change; funding, including NLC; Steve Rock's request for help with funding the ESA experiments; topics from Glen Crawford's slides as shown at HEPAP; the results of the SLAC scenarios study; how to make all efforts at improving the funding situation more effective and the DoE stance on outreach.

7. Directorate Visit & Lunch

Jonathan Dorfan, Persis Drell, Steve Williams, and Neal Calder arrived at noon.

There is no FY 2004 budget yet; Congress has enacted a continuing resolution through November. The DoE is expected to receive funding at the value set in the President's budget, which will be up $9.5 million from FY 2003. However, the increase is already accounted for (restoring the 1.5% pay that was withheld in 2003 - $2M; 3.5% extra for benefits - $4M; PEP-II cut last year by $4M which will be restored in FY2004).

A full run is planned for PEP-II through the end of July 2004 (39 weeks), a total of 10 months (3 in 2003, 7 in 2004), plus a short down time at Christmas. The startup in September was the fastest start ever on PEP-II.

GLAST has a fixed budget, fully funded. The three ESA experiments are stalled. Unfortunately it will be impossible to continue the ESA program. It is important for users to recognize that, due to budget restrictions, the lab had to make very tough decisions to be able to preserve the main program, and they were forced to turn down very good science.

Also we are affected by power rates and incur a penalty if we go above a certain amount. ESA on top of PEP-II would reach it; this wasn't known at the time the ESA experiments were accepted.

Advanced accelerator R&D is the future of the field. NLC funding is flat again this year (FY 2004). A request to double funding has been made for FY 2005, but the result is unknown. To some degree, the anemic economic recovery and the cost of the war in Iraq weigh against the request.

The annual performance measurement was missed by a little. OMB has several metrics used for this. However, the expectation is set before the budget is known. OMB needs to lower expectations. Congress actually cares about the precision of sin 2beta. According to the metrics, BaBar logged enough of the delivered luminosity; the failure was only in the delivered total amount.

A meeting will be held in November at SLAC to open up the SLAC scenarios process to the user community and staff before the final report is written. It is thought that at least two hours in the auditorium will be needed, preferably starting or ending with lunch. It needs to be held before December.

Quality of life issues were discussed next. The Guest House has been running 65-70% occupancy for the last three months. For it to be self-sustaining, it must pay operating costs and repay $10.7M to the University over a 30 year period. For the current fee schedule this means occupancy must be about 80% over 365 days, otherwise costs of rooms will have to increase. Users need to be educated about the Guest House to encourage its use and to help them change habits. SSRL has no beam until next spring, so they have fewer users on site. They will use more rooms after SPEAR3 begins operation. There have been no complaints about the Guest House; the quality of service is good. During big meetings at SLAC, there have been times when it was full; however, there is still a big portion of the community that is not using it.

Regarding the desire for additional Marguerite shuttle service in the evening, up to and including the midnight shift change, SLUO is requested to establish the need for it and to get ridership numbers. A partial alternative would be to have a fleet of cars available at the Guest House that users could check out to go out for the evening, etc. Although you can get to the Guest House from the local airports by shuttle, there is little transportation available if you want to go out to eat for dinner, etc, in the evening. Most people that stay are renting cars. Public transportation (buses, Caltrain) is available for trips to the airports but is inconvenient due to the number of transfers needed.

The plans for a public lecture series were discussed. SSRL and SLUO plan to co-educate each other's user community, plus the general public, about the physics they do. The key is to get the right speaker--not necessarily someone who is close to the details, but rather a good communicator. Slides would also be posted on the web and could be used in Washington visits. It was noted that the Carreras lectures at CERN are well-attended, usually packed with over 400 people.

Regarding outreach, Neil Calder noted that is an excellent resource for outreach and educational efforts, and also that the Communications Department on campus is willing to give training to SLAC speakers.

It was noted that the SLAC user community doesn't do well in terms of outreach to Congress. Between SLAC and SSRL, there are users from every state in the nation. We need to make visits to our local Congressional representatives and ask them to support basic science. Two to three visits in one year will get their attention. Also the APS has a very important feature on their website at which allows the sending of email to your representatives. The procedure is very simple and takes two or three minutes to complete. It only takes about six letters to be effective. The Energy and Water bill is coming up in Congress next week.

Computing security was discussed. The establishment of a review process for computing security decisions was requested by Ray Cowan and Tony Johnson, SLUO's computing security representatives to the SCS Computer Security Committee. Decisions made could sometimes affect the user community in an adverse way and a review process should be helpful in bringing to light the implications of such decisions and in finding possible alternatives. Such review of course would not restrict the making of any time-critical decisions of an immediate nature, but would bring additional knowledgeable people to the table when discussing other issues such as blocking ports, removing software or services, etc., that might pose a risk down the road. It is thought that the Computer Coordinating Committee (CCC) might be a suitable forum, with subsequent recommendations being passed on to the Associate Directors Computing Committee (ADCC).

8. Sub-committees Formation & Assignments

Sub-committees were populated by various volunteers:

Washington, DC trip: Amanda, Bruce, Eli, Gabriella, Gregory (chair)
Quality of Life: Amanda, Bruce Eric, Eduardo (chair)
Public Meetings: Eli, Gabriella, Bruce (chair)
Outreach: Eric, Gabriella, Gregory, Ray (chair)
Visa Problems: Eric, Bruce (chair)

Gregory will contact the other members of SLUO who aren't present to get their help on the committees.

9. Setting up Charge & Planning of Sub-committee Activities

Washington, DC trip: trip planning, preparation, and debriefing.

Quality of Life: perform health insurance survey; perform Guest House usage survey; investigate evening shuttle/car fleet possibilities.

Public Meetings: plan for the SLUO Annual meeting in July; assist with the upcoming SLAC Scenarios meeting in November.

Outreach: plan for the public lecture series with SSRL, especially regarding the selection of three speakers for the year.

Visa Problems: investigate problems and help find solutions; coordinate with the other labs and user organizations for this purpose.

10. Selection of SLUO Representatives for SLAC Committees

Ray will continue to attend SSRLUO EC meetings and report back to the SLUO EC. He and Tony Johnson will continue as SLUO representatives to the SCS Computing Security Committee. A representative needs to be selected for the SLAC operating safety committee.

11. SLUO Office Report

Fran reported on the plans for the User Facility Administrators Group meeting to be held at BNL October 27-28 2003. She will give a talk on similarities and differences of databases used at the various facilities. An important issue is SLACís implementation of FACTS (Foreign Access Central Tracking System) which is required by DOE. A questionnaire is to be sent to the users (approval was received yesterday).

12. AOB/Adjourn

The meeting adjourned at 3:15 PM.

Respectfully submitted,
Ray Cowan, SLUO EC Secretary/Treasurer.


posted December 5, 2003 by mcdunn