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

Meetings and Minutes

Minutes of the February 2, 2007 UEC Meeting

Present: Sacha Kopp, Brendan Casey, Tom Diehl, Greg Landsberg, Wyatt Merritt, Breese Quinn
On video: Ela Barberis, Max Chertok, Kevin Pitts, Peter Wittich
Absent: George Gollin, Chris Polly, Jean Slaughter
Attending from GSA: Mandy Rominsky

Chair's Report

Sacha Kopp reported on several activities.

(1) He's investigated the possibility of obtaining public library service for Village residents (see QoL report below) - those users interested in obtaining a library card should contact him for details.
(2) The UECs from all the national labs (ANL, JLab, BNL, LBL, etc) have been coordinating visits by their users to local Congressional offices to emphasize the importance of the DOE Office of Science and of User Facilities to the research programs at various campuses. Over 200 individuals overall and over 70 Fermilab users have participated in this effort. Details are available at http://www.nufo.org/. Some visits are still ongoing, and are still important. Users interested in more information should contact Kopp.
(3) The HEPAP subpanel on the university grants programs of DOE & NSF has held two town meetings and is conducting surveys of the HEP community. An anonymous web-based survey is available at the URL http://www.pa.msu.edu/~brock/file_sharing/ugps/. Go to the 'take a survey' link at the left column: http://www.pa.msu.edu/~brock/file_sharing/ugps/survey.htm It is the panel's intent to represent the views of the HEP community, so users' input is important.

Visit with Director Oddone

What is the status of the continuing budget resolution, and what are the implications for Fermilab in FY07?

Nothing is completely settled regarding the budget at this moment, because although the House has passed a continuing resolution, the Senate has not passed it. The House has rules to limit debate on a bill, but Senate does not, so it is much more difficult to closely contain a debate in the Senate, even on critical legislation. In the Senate, 60 votes are required to close debate on a bill. An up or down vote in the Senate is currently scheduled for Feb 13. The continuing resolution which passed the House is very good for science in general, and for the DOE Office of Science. NSF got all the scheduled increase for its research account (although not all for its major facilities). The Office of Science did not get the full increase which would have been in the appropriations bill, but it does have some earmark money to redistribute. The total increase above the FY06 level is $330M for the Office of Science in the House bill when the earmarks are included. If the Senate bill is similar, then we hope to avoid any need for a furlough at Fermilab. It is a very positive sign that science was explicitly addressed in this resolution; this is a definite recognition that funding for science is among the nation's top priorities. There was clearly a strong mobilization of the community in aid of this result.

Kopp commented that the local Congressional visits by university scientists from DOE labs, organized through NUFO, were timed well to help with this. The APS letter-writing campaign sent 1500 letters.

What news do you bring from the URA Council of Presidents meeting?

It was a very good meeting, with the audience engaged and asking very good questions. Director Oddone's talk was very well received - it emphasized Fermilab's recent accomplishments. Representative Bart Gordon also gave a very good talk on the American Competitiveness Initiative. Ray Orbach (Deputy Undersecretary of Energy) focused his talk on alternative energy sources. We still have a big job to do in terms of education on the long term benefits of basic research in areas like high energy physics.

What can you tell us about the request from OMB to merge the NOVA project and the Main Injector upgrades?

Fermilab has been very successful in managing, economically and responsibly, similar upgrade activities as campaigns rather than projects. The Main Injector upgrade to 700kW was proposed to be managed this way. However, OMB worries about accountability. They would prefer to see the MI upgrade managed as part of the Nova project. This has implications for how the cost estimate is presented - the upgrade cost is $40M, but if it's a project, we have to add contingency and overhead. This results in an apparent increase (although the number of dollars actually spent do not change). The positive aspect is that projects are more visible than campaigns, and once approved, less vulnerable to budget cuts.

The UEC expressed a worry that since NUMI is a facility, with several experiments dependent on its capabilities, tying its upgrade to a particular experiment also has a downside.

Can you describe the role of the new Accelerator Center?

Its role is to raise the profile of advanced accelerator R&D at Fermilab. This is broader than just ILC research. The Center can also be a focus for University partnerships in accelerator R&D. It will develop tools to simulate operational problems and address design issues, and also do real physical R&D. There will be about ~30 people in the Center, and the new head will be announced soon.

There was some discussion of how graduate students and universities fit into the Center; Director Oddone suggested continuing this discussion with the new head.

What is the news on the ILC RDR?

Director Oddone is going to the Beijing meeting where the RDR will be presented. The RDR will present a cost divided into labor (FTE), movable items, and non-movable items. The detector cost will be additional. It will be presented as an International Value Estimate, which does not include US-style contingency or escalation. The lab will help in the translation to US cost.

Report from Information Categorization Policy Committee - Irwin Gaines

Irwin Gaines presented an interim report from the Committee, which has been delivered to Lab management. This committee was formed in response to a DOE directive to consider action to protect personal information, such as Social Security numbers, in the wake of incidents involving computer theft which have embarrassed various government agencies.

The committee has generated a proposed training presentation, which everyone at the Lab will have to view, if the committee's recommendations are accepted. The presentation covers the reasons for a protection policy and the definition of protected personally identifiable information (PII). The basic new policy is that no one (including users) can store any protected PII on any computer connected with the Lab network. If the policy is implemented, all computer users at the lab will have to sign a statement saying that no such PII is stored on their computers. For users bringing laptops to the lab, this raises many questions. Some resumes, student transcripts, and personal financial information might fall under the current protected PII definition.

The Lab was already planning to construct a visitor's network, separate from the general wireless network. If this is in place, it might solve some of the concerns regarding PII. The Lab already has plans for protecting the caches of PII it maintains as part of normal work (e.g., Human Resources and Business Services databases). Some operations of the Visa Office and the Conference Office might be affected by the new rules.

The UEC asked how users could urge the swift creation of the visitor's network (which is also expected to help with the laptop computer security issues which sometimes interfere with users' access to the network). Gaines answered that a letter to the Director with a copy to the Computing Division Head would be an appropriate action to take.

Scans to assess compliance with the PII policy are not being proposed.

The Fermilab CMS Center - Lothar Bauerdick

Lothar Bauerdick is the director of the CMS Center, which was started in December 2006. The formation of the Center grew out of the planning for the new DOE contract. The Center is meant to enable work on CMS across divisions. Its goals are to coordinate and support Fermilab staff on CMS as a unit, to collect and manage resources for CMS in one place, and to host, manage, and support the LHC Physics Centers, visitors for CMS, and the Remote Operations Center.

The computing facilities for CMS are a significant contribution to the experiment. Fermilab is the largest CMS grid computing center, and also has the LPC-CAF analysis facility for LPC users. Users of the LPC-CAF must have a Fermilab ID and a Fermilab computer account. Another major Fermilab contribution is to help make the Open Science Grid work.

The LHC Physics Center should provide at Fermilab a critical mass of people who know how to do CMS analysis, and this will be a resource for the whole US-CMS collaboration. The LPC is a virtual organization hosted in the CMS Center, which provides administrative support and a budget. The original leaders of the LPC are moving to other roles; a committee is working on a proposal for LPC governance. The LPC has received strong support, and is one of best places to learn CMS software. The LPC has hosted up to 50-60 CMS visitors at a time, in addition to the 45 Fermilab physicists on CMS. In a recent visit, Paris Sphicas, CMS Physics Coordinator, expressed high hopes for the success of the LPC.

The Remote Operations Center has achieved a successful participation in the Magnet Test and Cosmic Challenge. It is expected that it will prove feasible to run shifts from the ROC. The LHC@FNAL (located on WH1East) is going to have its grand opening soon.

The CMS Center is working on a management plan with Associate Director for Research Montgomery. The Center has a request in for a large travel budget to enable Fermilab physicists to maintain a significant presence at CERN and at physics meetings. The role of the 120-day travel approval rule as a hindrance to travel, for lab employees and also for user groups who use their travel funds through Fermilab, was discussed. It was unclear if this rule is applied in a uniform way across experiments and groups.


Outreach (Brendan Casey)
The Outreach Committee met a few weeks ago. They were joined by Marge Bardeen from the Fermilab Education Office. She talked about the resources available for outreach in the Education Office and described some previous surveys of what people in HEP are doing in the area of outreach. These surveys are not so up-to-date now, and it was suggested that the UEC Outreach Committee take these on. Bardeen proposed that, instead of borrowing equipment from the Lederman Center for demonstrations, user groups could be given instructions on how to build their own equipment. There is an Outreach Workshop being planned for the Tuesday before the Users Meeting. The Outreach Committee will help follow up on the local congressional visits from the NUFO effort.

Users Meeting (Greg Landsberg)
The Users Meeting Committee is still working on the list of invited speakers. They are exchanging ideas with the Outreach Committee on the Outreach Workshop. The GSA is starting to organize the poster session and the featured students talks competition.

Quality of Life (Tom Diehl)
Sacha Kopp reported a final resolution to the question of library service for users living on site. The lab is served by the West Chicago library, which will issue library cards for a sliding fee scale based on the rental paid for the on-site housing (users will need a copy of the lease as documentation). Fees are payable for an entire year and cannot be prorated. These cards are also usable at other area libraries, but cannot be obtained except at West Chicago.

The GSA, with some postdoc help, is working on a plone site for ride-sharing. The committee had no complaints on hand regarding cafeteria food or site water. The women's dorm area is still available; it is not widely advertised, though. The committee chair is working on user space in the Particle Astrophysics Center. A request for more bikes has been received.

International Users (Ela Barberis)
The committee has received a request from the Directorate for a survey of international users. They will modify software from a previous GSA survey. The SLAC users group also may be interested in a joint survey effort.

Government Relations (Breese Quinn)
The committee held a day-long meeting on Jan 6 for the trip attendees, which drew ~30 people. Getting agreement on the unified message may be harder than last year, since the group is larger. They are starting to put packets together. We have been told it is too late to put together a special symmetry issue, but we may get a photo montage and a cover story. Contact persons are named for each of the groups now (UEC, SLUO, CMS, and Atlas). Next week work will begin on the one-pager for the message. There will be more role-playing exercises as part of the March 2 UEC meeting, and a video conference on March 5. Travel arrangements have been firmed up. There will not be an executive summary of EPP2010 for the packet, and the full report is too large.

Other Business


Proposed Dates for Future UEC Meetings

  • March 2, 2007
  • April - TBD
  • Washington Trip - March 21-23, 2007

Submitted by: Wyatt Merritt (acting for Chris Polly, UEC Secretary)