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

Meetings and Minutes

Minutes of the 7 Nov. 2008 UEC Meeting

Attending UEC reps:

Karen Gibson
Mike Hildreth
Dan Hooper
Matthew Jones
Ashutosh Kotwal
Ron Moore
Kevin Pitts
Heather Ray
Lee Sawyer
Mitch Soderberg
Kirsten Tollefson
Jon Urheim
Tricia Vahle

Attending GSA reps:

John BackusMayes
Tyler Dorland
Gabriel Facini
Josh Spitz


Government Relations Update (Dan Hooper)

News from D.C. - An economic stimulus package is being discussed in Washington D.C. which may include money for HEP. The Senate version of the stimulus package has money for DOE included, while the House version does not.

The Gov. Relations committee is mulling over idea of some form of public presentation during the annual DC trip. Such a presentation used to be a regular part of the trip. Many questions would have to be answered in planning such an event. Among them:

  • What form does it take? (Public lecture, Posters, Demos, etc...)
  • Where would the presentation take place?
  • Would we need a planner familiar with DC workings?
  • Who from the DOE should be recruited to discuss HEP at this event?
  • Who is the expected audience for such an event, and how many could we expect?
  • Should the presentation focus on specific areas of HEP (e.g. - LHC), or be more broad in scope?

Sending a letter to new science adviser (whoever that may be) under Obama would be a nice gesture. The letter would welcome them to the fold and put out a standing invitation to visit Fermilab.


Phone call from Carole McGuire

(UEC) What is the mood in DC in the wake of the election?
(CM) - Now that election is over and Democrats are in charge there are obviously new agenda/initiatives/priorities. With Obama in power, additional activity expected on the stimulus package to help economy. The stimulus package is likely focused on job creation....as such there is no science agency money included in the version that the House passed. Funding for DOE office of Science, or infrastructure funding (e.g. - NOvA construction) geared at job creation, could be added to stimulus bills. The Senate version of the stimulus package had $150M for Office of Science. Democrat leadership will start consulting with Obama in mid-Nov regarding the stimulus package, so action on stimulus could come as early as Dec.

(UEC) Has Obama indicated what he would like in a stimulus package?
(CM) - Not yet. Democrats may feel they need to address job creation first (via infrastructure projects). We're trying to make case for job creation to do physics-related construction....as well as making case that science agencies need money to keep existing jobs in science. Obama is focused on energy and economy. He will most likely consult with Congress on economy, but will use his cabinet and 2010 budget to address energy needs.

(UEC) What do you think of the possibility of sending a smaller UEC group to DC sometime soon to advocate for science in the interim period?
(CM) - Still wouldn't advise this. Right now it is more helpful to contact local representatives and ask them to include science in stimulus package. Congress is busy reorganizing/recovering from the election, so the timing for a visit is not great.

(UEC) Is March the best opportunity for the spring trip?
(CM) - Congress calendar is not out yet (maybe around Thanksgiving). A 3rd stimulus package, focused on middle-class tax cut, could come after the State of Union. This task will occupy Congress for most of Feb. March will most likely be the time to resolve any lingering 2009 budget issues. The Continuing Resolution expires March 6, 2009.

(UEC) What do you think of UEC holding an "event" in conjunction with spring trip?
(CM) - Individual meetings the UEC typically does are the most important meetings. Big meetings will most likely bring out low-level staffers...so the UEC focus should stay on individual meetings. LOTS of other organizations will be holding events around this time to welcome in/back representatives. If the UEC is seriously interested in this, they may wish to contact Foster's office to set something up. Events can be very expensive since catering (with approved caterers) aren't cheap, and ethic rules must be followed. Sometimes Congress offices host coffees in their offices, so this is another option you may consider for your visit efforts. You should also think about joining up with FRA/FNAL if they are already planning an event.

(UEC) What kind of event can help us advance our agenda?
(CM) - Not sure. Focus of DC will be on new administration, so you may get lost in the shuffle. Last year FNAL and Argonne did a joint briefing. This briefing was useful, but perhaps not more informative than individual meetings.

(UEC) 2009 budget is most likely out of our hands since Congress won't want to deal with it. Are we going to end up with an Omnibus?
(CM) - Probably. CM and Oddone visits to Capital hill have gotten good responses in terms of guaranteeing support for FNAL. 2009 budget is in hands of leadership and Obama, so it's not really up to appropriators.

(UEC) Do we run the risk of being "out-of-touch" with our advocacy for HEP money in a time of economic crisis?
(CM) - Keeping arguments in terms of Science & Technology, and their impact on the economy, are still legitimate goals. We should continue to argue for science in general, and not focus so much on HEP. We can certainly use HEP as an example of what happens when America COMPETES is not signed.

(UEC) How do we reconcile long-term investment arguments for HEP funding with short-term goals of stimulus package?
(CM) - Science spurs job creation. If a Continuing Resolution is extended, we're going to be losing jobs. We should keep our arguments at a high-level and shouldn't consider ourselves irrelevant to the science debate.

(UEC) APS holds an event in the spring in DC. Should we try and piggyback on their effort instead of going on our own?
(CM) - Good idea.

(UEC) We are trying to organize local visits during holiday season. Need to do better at tracking visits. Last year Judy Jackson suggested Lewis Burke might have tools to help with this. Is this so?
(CM) - Not aware of this.

(CM) - Has UEC planned Dec. meeting to organize DC trip? She'd like to attend.


Roger Dixon on Tevatron Plans

A 10 week shutdown is planned next year that is primarily driven by NOvA construction. There has been talk of skipping this shutdown but we need short shutdowns for maintenance. The length of the shutdown might be different, but this is not decided yet.

Run II strategy is to maximize delivered luminosity. The plan for this strategy is:

  • Continue to make small improvements with short payback times.
  • Optimize running conditions to take advantage of improvements.
  • Increase overall machine reliability.

The funding outlook for FY09 is currently short $9m to run the Tevatron for a full year under the Continuing Resolution. This could have an impact on NOvA, Project X and the Collider Run. One option that is discussed is to shutdown Tevatron until end of FY09. No decisions made yet.

The current FY09 Running Plan is to run until June 15, then have a shutdown June15->Aug. 23, and then run out the year.

In summary, the accelerators are running good now. Only small improvements are planned over the next 2 years. The big issue is funding for the next 2 years.

(UEC) - Is the plan to keep running at over 300 initial luminosity?
(RD) - We will work with detectors to get maximum integrated luminosity delivered in the most useful way.

(UEC) - Any news on automating shot-setup or decreasing the time it takes?
(RD) - We are trying to play around with loading sequence...many things already have been optimized. Accelerator experts continue to work on improvements.

(UEC) - How does decision to run in FY10 proceed/get made?
(RD) - This seems to be up to director, but he must have the budget to back up this decision.

(UEC) - Any comments on LHC?
(RD) - This was a serious incident, and will require lots of work to fix it. If anybody has the resources to do it, CERN does.


Outreach Committee Update (Karen Gibson)

This committee aims to facilitate user outreach at their home institutions.

Thinking of helping organize a series of "Particle Physics and You" public lectures in the spring at institutions around the country.

Rhianna Wasniewski (from FNAL Today) is starting to gather materials for outreach. The committee needs input from users to help determine best way to proceed.

The committee is considering other ideas, such as FNAL-related blogs (similar to the US/LHC blogs) describing day-to-day research topics.


Local Congressional Visits (Heather Ray)

The committee is seeking web space from FRA, since FNAL/university computers are often restricted from hosting certain types of information.

The committee plans to send out preliminary letters soon asking for volunteers to set up meetings.

If any user is interested in participating in a local visit, or knows someone else who might be, please contact Heather Ray.


Young-Kee Kim visit -

NOvA CD3a and DES CD3b have been approved ($270M and $30M total projects respectively)! Ray Orbach has asked if we can run the Tevatron in 2011, which is a good sign for us. Ray Orbach and Denis Kovar recently visited DUSEL, and both came away very enthused about the project.

The accelerator shutdown has been delayed until around June 15th to facilitate better results for the Tevatron experiments.

JDEM Science Operation Center may be hosted at FNAL. This idea is in the proposal stage now.

(UEC) - It seems like there is a lot on the Lab's plate with regard to the development of new initiatives over the next few years, even within just the accelerator-based program -- for example: mu2e, NOvA/ANU, CMS upgrade, MicroBoone, FeHo (beam to DUSEL), Project X, new ATLAS group, R&D for big detector(s) at DUSEL. How does the diversity of these projects compare with the range and type of simultaneous initiatives the lab has pursued in the past?
(Y2K) - We are currently working on OHAP (Organizational and Human Asset Plan) to figure out the work force plan. There will be more accurate results for this in December. We already know we need more people than we currently have. There are currently 111 people fewer than we had last year.

(UEC) - How big a role is Fermilab envisioning with regard to participation in the development & construction of one or more large detectors at DUSEL? What is the tone of the input from DOE with regard to this?
(Y2K) - In the case that a Stage 1 detector is Water Cerenkov, the lab may potentially work on designing/building the supporting structures for PMTs used in this detector.

(UEC) - International participation in new initiatives: What sort of interest/involvement is there from abroad in some of the new activities like mu2e and next phase of the neutrino program?
(Y2K) - We are trying to develop collaboration with Italians for LAr detectors. The ArgoNeuT project already has Italians collaborators who have spent several months at Fermilab during a commissioning run. I have visited Osaka/K2K to discuss collaboration on mu2e. We have signed an MOU with K2K to work on mu2e. We are currently planning a joint workshop for CARMEN/mu2e at a neutral spot, perhaps in California. Italians/Russian groups have joined mu2e as well.

(UEC) - What is the impact (if any) of the LHC start-up delay on the Fermilab program?
(Y2K) - We could possibly run the Tevatron longer.

(UEC) - Users are interested in the idea for the development of a Fermilab ATLAS group, and have expressed a wide range of opinions. Here are some questions with regard to some of the goals of establishing a Fermilab ATLAS group:
1.) A 10-FTE size group could be 10 scientists working 100%, or 40 working 25% on average. What is the expectation for this? Is there a nucleus of Fermilab scientists that is eager to form/join this group?
(Y2K) - 10-FTE means 10 people. The money will not come out of U.S. Atlas money.

2.) What would the scope of institutional responsibility be? Would some Fermilab scientists be based at CERN for extended periods (as is currently the case with the SLAC ATLAS group for example)? Would the group participate in the ATLAS detector upgrades? If so, how does this work given that the upgrade effort is getting organized now?
(Y2K) - The answer depends on the interest of FNAL scientists. We will discuss these roles with U.S. Atlas when the time is right. Our project would try to coordinate with midwest Atlas groups.

3.) Synergy with theorists & CMS: how will the Lab identify synergies with the theory and CMS communities based at FNAL and then put together an ATLAS group that will be well suited to exploit them?
(Y2K) - The Midwest 'center' (led by Argonne) should help answer this.

4.) Midwest 'center' for ATLAS user community: what is really the plan for this? Is a 10-FTE group enough of a critical mass to support it? What infrastructure would be maintained for FNAL users working on ATLAS? Would existing resources used by CMS (i.e., LPC) be made available to ATLAS? What about computing?
(Y2K) - For the LPC, the idea would be to start small and evolve. The plan is to provide facilities for users who come to FNAL for CDF/D0 business to also get work on Atlas done.

5.) Relationship with the rest of the Fermilab program: to what extent does lab management perceive a risk that developing an ATLAS group substantial enough to make an impact will head Fermilab down the road toward being exclusively a lab of users & technical support for programs based at other labs? Is there a concern that allocation of lab resources in this direction will undercut some of the other ambitious initiatives that are currently starved for manpower?
(Y2K) - The needs of Atlas/CMS users are pretty similar, so it's not a huge leap to join Atlas.


Judy Jackson - Diversity Focus groups

Committees on Women and Minorities in physics came to review the workplace environment at FNAL in May 2008. Their reports are posted on a FNAL website (www.fnal.gov/pub/diversity/files/APS_Report.pdf). The report makes some fairly scathing statements about the situation of women and minorities at FNAL. The report made no real effort in reports to separate users/employees/etc... We would like better information from these groups before making any policy changes. We have decided to hold a series of focus groups with users/employees. It is harder to interview users since it's hard to pin down who's here at any given moment. Focus group statements will be anonymous (i.e. - no record of who said what, though what was said will be recorded). We'd like to have all this done by the middle of Jan.

We already have taken several steps regardless of the outcome of these focus groups. A link has been added to homepage of FNAL@work (www.fnal.gov/pub/diversity), with information clarifying diversity policies.

Submitted by: Mitch Soderberg, UEC Secretary