Users' Executive Committee
Users' Executive Committee
Fermi Research Alliance, LLC

Meetings and Minutes

Minutes of the 8 December 2006 UEC Meeting

Attending UEC reps: Barberis, Casey, Diehl, Gollin, Kopp, Landsberg, Merritt, Pitts, Polly, Quinn, Slaughter
Attending GSA reps: Mandy Rominsky (University of Oklahoma), D0


The organization and status of the local congressional visits were discussed. Mark Marin and Carol McGuire from Lewis-Burke Associates consulting firm gave a report on the current state of affairs on Capitol Hill. A question and answer session was held with Director Oddone. Robert Kephart presented an overview of the ILC program at Fermilab. Subcommittees gave status reports.

Followup on University Subpanel

The HEPAP subpanel on University groups received less input from the Fermilab user base then they had hoped. This subpanel will be making recommendations to HEPAP that could have a real impact on the current funding paradigm of university groups. All users are encouraged to visit the subpanel's feedback website at: http://www.pa.msu.edu/~brock/file_sharing/ugps/subpanel.htm

The charge is given along with several forums for interaction that include email, blogs, and a Town Hall meeting schedule. The next Town Hall is scheduled for Jan 8-9 at SLAC, with another scheduled at at MIT Feb 8-9. Around the first week of the new year, a general survey will be made available to the community through this website in addition to a PI survey.

Local Congressional Visits

About 200 university-based National Lab users across ~100 campuses have volunteered to make visits to their local congressional office. Given the shift of power in Congress and the potential impact of a continuing resolution on operations at Fermilab and other facilities, it is a particularly crucial time for members of our community to make their voices heard. The emphasis of these trips should be to convey the important role that our national labs play in research occurring at universities within the state/district of the senator/representative. At this point volunteers should be sending an initial contact form to schedule a meeting as quickly as possible. To help facilitate this process, a webpage has been constructed under nufo.org: http://www.nufo.org/local-visits.html

The first step in this process is arranging a time for a meeting. A sample meeting request template has been provided. Please modify the letter accordingly and FAX it to the district office of each Senator or Representative you plan to visit. This step needs to occur ASAP.

With the meeting scheduled, the second step is to form the group of national lab users willing to make the visit and assimilate materials. The nufo.org website has provided some materials including a set of one-pagers describing the main research areas at the various national labs, DOE and NSF funding sheets for the universities in each state, and some tips on having a successful visit. If you have not already volunteered to join a group from your university making this trip and would like to do so, please contact Sacha Kopp or any other member of the FNAL UEC to obtain a list of participants. Given the prospect of a Continuing Resolution for FY07 these visits take on an additional role.

Visit with Director Oddone

How have the relation of the universities to the URA changed?

Under the new contract, URA keeps the same organization that it has had in the past. One new development is that universities in the URA have been asked to contribute a membership due of $5000/yr. This due will help to offset the costs associated with the contract competition and will provide a source of funding to promote collaboration between URA constituents and the lab via sabbaticals, ILC activities, etc. In general, the lab would like to see universities in the URA have a more active membership.

Under the new contract, are there changes with respect to the safety requirements for users?

No, ES&H is still the same. There is a new office of Quality and Best Practice to aid in quality assurance and make sure the lab is operating efficiently. The EG&G corporation will be contracted to help evaluate the lab and perform cost/benefit analyses on various aspects of Fermilab operations. One of the key advantages to contracting a firm like EG&G is that in the case where the lab suddenly has to make a large scale transition, i.e. the US bid to host ILC is a success, the firm can embed operatives to aid in making the transition and getting the lab back into a steady state of operations. Since the workload during the transition is much higher than what is needed for steady state operations, this is a much better solution than the alternatives of trying to make due with existing staff or hiring lab employees specifically for the transition period. The lab would also benefit from having EG&G pan across all areas within the lab to get a picture of how streamlined operations are at Fermilab and what might be improved. The results could then be reported back to DOE to show the efforts the lab has made towards assuring an efficient operation.

What is the impact of the continuing resolution on the lab?

It is huge. The continuing resolution results in a very difficult situation at Fermilab since last year's budget does not cover the increases needed to offset inflation and increased power costs, along with funding for NOVA and ILC R&D. The lab management is currently studying the implications and the $20-30M deficit could even impact running schedules. A contingency plan is being developed.

Mark Marin and Carol McGuire from Lewis-Burke Associates

A continuing resolution has been introduced but not yet passed that would extend the 2006 budget through February. The Democrat-led Congress will come back in January where all existing legislation is wiped and will have to start over with the filling of subcommittees, etc. The best hope for getting the 2007 budget passed would be to lump all of the budget legislation into an an omnibus or several smaller minibus' to try and clear out legislation. However, it is hard to go from the current Republican legislature to a Democrat-approved version since not enough money was placed in several of the programs that the Democrats care about. One possibility is that if the President requests another $100-130B emergency funding for the war in Iraq, then the Democrats might be able to negotiate a domestic budget that is passed simultaneously.

Overall, the support for the American Competitiveness Initiative (ACI) has been very bi-partisan. The new chairman and ranking members of the Science committee have already started discussing the ACI, so the shift in power is not necessarily a problem. There are still many vocal proponents of the ACI in the Senate, House, and various sub-committees However, it is a good time to start emphasizing the importance of the physical sciences and the scientific enterprise, particularly to the new members of Congress. The already existing bipartisan support of the ACI is at hand and an early success of this legislation could be used to show the ability of the new Congress to work together.

The new year is liable have a very complicated convergence for HEP in Washington, DC. Not only is the 2007 budget still up in the air, but the President will be submitting a proposal for the 2008 budget to Congress in February. At about the same time, the results from the Global Design Effort (GDE) are expected to be presented in Beijing with the initial ILC cost estimate making headlines. All in all, it should prove to be an interesting year.

Context and Current ILC Program at Fermilab -- Robert Kephart

Robert Kephart, Fermilab ILC Program Director, gave a comprehensive report on the role that Fermilab is playing in the Global Design Effort. Because of the changing role of US HEP and the scale of the project, the ILC is not business as usual. The changing landscape of HEP includes 1) the shutdown of the SLAC b-factory at the end of 2008. 2) LHC coming online in 2007-2008. 3) operation of the Tevatron-Run II for ~3 more years. Starting in 2010 there will no longer be any US accelerators operating at the energy frontier with no replacement approved or under construction. The Main Injector will continue to run for the neutrino program but is too small to support the whole community. Fermilab will be the only lab dedicated to HEP in the US, and as such will play a special role in the stewardship of the field.

The current Fermilab goals are to establish credentials in machine design and SCRF technology such that FNAL is the preferred international site to host the ILC, help with the design and cosing of the GDE, and pursue various R&D areas. Unlike previous accelerators at FNAL, Fermilab is not "in charge". The ILC is an international effort and will likely be governed by an international body. However, the future of US HEP is crucially dependent on the approval of ILC, and the future of Fermilab is tied to whether or not Fermilab is the host lab. While it would be hard to argue Fermilab is the leader of the ILC effort, FNAL is playing a major role with 60 FTE at the start of 2006 ramping up to 150 FTE by the end of the year. Focus is now on developing the Reference Design Report to be published towards the end of February.

In terms of FNAL as a site, it is interesting to note that the design with 6-7 km circumference damping rings at the center would allow for the damping rings and many access point to be contained within the lab boundaries. In addition, there are several rays extending from the lab grounds for the linacs with minimal interference. For more details on the management structure, ongoing R&D, outreach efforts, etc., a copy of the talk may be obtained at: http://www.fnal.gov/directorate/Fermilab_AAC/AAC_Dec_06/AAC_Dec06_Kephart.pdf


Government Relations (Breese Quinn)
Have a complete list of people making the Washington trip. All trip participants should try to make it to the January 6 planning meeting if possible. In addition to SLUO, this year a USLHC contingency has also been invited and are in the process of organizing. The trip will be March 21-23.

Quality of Life (Tom Diehl)
Interest in improving transportation in and around Fermilab divides along two lines: Fermilab commuters and "village people" without cars altogether. The first group needs to get back and forth from home to work and the second needs to get around site and nearby offsite to, say, get to the grocery store. Fermilab has a Car- and Vanpool web page that has been maintained by Kurt Riesselman. It is aimed at commuters and has URL http://www.fnal.gov/faw/vanpool/.

There is a lot of info about PACE programs. Also, there are some links pointing to tools people can use to organize themselves. A post-doc from the Theory Group is interested in arranging a regular van that circulates at key commuting times from FNAL to the train stations. Kurt put a notice in Fermilab Today on Dec 07 asking that commuters fill out a Metra survey about the STAR line. The survey is available on FermiToday at http://www.fnal.gov/pub/today/archive_2006/today06-12-07.html

Please take the short time needed to fill it out. In addition to transportation issues, the subcommittee discussed with the GSA the possible creation of a plone page and a future Career Night.

Outreach (Brendan Casey)
See above section on local congressional visits.

Users Meeting (Greg Landsberg)
Discussed overall structure of the meeting. Decided to go with the last year's model, especially for the talks given by young physicists that were executed and received quite well. Overall, there should be slots for about 28 talks. In order to promote attendance, it would be nice to have a dignitary of some sort scheduled for each session. Many political dignitaries have been invited with only a few negative response back so far. A list of timely physics dignitaries has been developed and the invitations will be extended.

International Users (Ela Barberis)
Putting all of the useful documentation from GSA, UEC, etc into a condensed list on the life.

Proposed Dates for Future UEC Meetings

  • January 6, 2007 (DC Trip Meeting)
  • February 2, 2007
  • March 2, 2007

Submitted by: Chris Polly, UEC Secretary