Standing Committee Meeting Report COCOM
May 2003

Report to ExCom
May 5-6, 2003 CoCom Meeting
IRIS HQ, Washington, DC

Attendees : Tim Ahern (IRIS), Rick Aster (E&O, NMT), Rhett Butler (IRIS), Jim Fowler (IRIS), Shane Ingate (IRIS), David James (PASSCAL, Carnegie), Thorne Lay (UC SC), Guust Nolet (DMS, Princeton), Tom Owens (ExCom, USC),, Candy Shin (IRIS), David Simpson (IRIS), John Taber (IRIS). Regrets: G. Pavlis (ExCom, Indiana); G. van der Vink (IRIS)


I. Conflict of Interest discussion

Simpson noted that Conflicts of Interest include not just personal conflicts, but also institutional. They must be declared in the open. The procedure for the handling of potential conflicts may vary with the circumstances. The Chair of the committee involved has the final say in setting these procedures.

CoCom adopted a preferred procedure in which conflicted individual(s) may be present for general discussions. But, in each case, a potentially conflicted member will be excused from the room to allow for the possible discussions of sensitive matters related to the specific issue or budget. Using this procedure, Owens and Aster were excused for periods during the DMS (Owens) and PASSCAL (Aster) budgets.

II. Budget Discussion

Simpson advises CoCom that NSF is providing $13.2M for ‘03-04., which is 2.1% more than ’02-03. Because the G&A indirect rate increased this year, it is difficult to provide “real” increases to the programs. On the opposite end of the spectrum, the anticipated influx of USArray funds will eventually decrease the indirect rate. Faced with these uncertainties, CoCom discussed programmatic budget requests and recommended Core budgets that were roughly 2.1% above last year’s levels. Simpson and Shin were to work out the G&A indirect cost issue before ExCom.

CoCom then discussed the additional requests for New Initiatives proposed by each program. During this discussion, CoCom identified the need for an IRIS-wide “Opportunities” fund that individual programs could submit requests to when special needs or time-sensitive opportunities arise. This approach would give us more flexibility than having smaller discretionary funds in programmatic accounts. The establishment of this fund at the level of approximately $150K/yr was identified as the highest priority if new core funding becomes available.

Recommended ExCom Action: Establish the Opportunities Fund as the highest core funding priority and charge CoCom with establishing a simple procedure for rapidly reaching decisions on such requests by Fall of 2003.

In addition, the following program-specific New Initiatives were ranked by category. CoCom recommends that these requests be reviewed in the Fall when the overall budget and carryover figures are available. Also, CoCom has not yet ranked these requests internal to the broad categories. There was support for pan-IRIS rankings rather than automatically funding equal number of initiatives in each program. The rankings:

Strongest Support:

  • Postdoctoral position (E&O)
  • International metadata workshop (DMS)
  • Purchase new Texan data loggers (PASSCAL)
  • South Pole activities (GSN)

Some Support:

  • Matching IRIS funds for GEE & USESN (E&O)
  • Telemetry for new BB array (PASSCAL)
  • “Beyond SAC” and QA software programmer (DMS)
  • Macquarie Island site and low-gain velocity sensor (GSN)

Less Support:

  • Summertime video (E&O)
  • South Pole activities (magnetometer) (GSN)

Recommended ExCom Action: Approve of the review of this initiatives and establishment of pan-IRIS prioritization by CoCom in the Fall of 2003.

III. Other Recommendations to ExCom regarding Core Programs

CoCom requests that ExCom take the following actions:

  • Discuss the roll and funding level of the E&O program in light of the broad range of opportunities that exist. CoCom acknowledged that the E&O budget is really only “seed funding” and that vigorous pursuit of additional external funding and establishment of partners outside of IRIS is critical to the success of the program in the absence of increases in the core program budget.
  • Discuss the future of the IRIS Workshop, in view of rising costs, EarthScope, and joint meetings with UNAVCO
  • Approve the PASSCAL Instrument Use Policy. CoCom reviewed the revised PASSCAL instrument use policy and recommended some working changes more explicitly noting that the user will adhere to the Data Delivery Policy and acknowledgement of support and use of the instruments in all publications. Some minor wording changes to the Data Delivery Policy were also suggested.


IV. Other Actions and Recommendations by CoCom to the Core Programs (information items only for ExCom)

Action: Ahern and Taber are asked to report to the next CoCom on optimizing the resources provided by the University of South Carolina. This is especially important if GOLD and ITR-GEE are funded.

Action: Ahern is tasked with writing a letter to Chevron-Texon clearly stating responsibilities of the DMC before accepting the California off-shore data that is being generously donated by Chevron-Texon.

Action: CoCom approves Michael Hubenthal’s request to telecommute, which will be reviewed after 12 months.

Action: Rick Braman (DMC) and Bruce Beudoin (PIC) are identified at POCs for IRIS video-conferencing nodes.

V. EarthScope

A half-day discussion of EarthScope issues produced the following actions and recommendations.

• Working Groups

Thorne Lay has proposed to form a USArray Backbone Working Group within the GSN Standing Committee. This was viewed as a good way to tap into community enthusiasm for USArray and provide for more immediate and greater input into the process. It was suggested that perhaps all Standing Committees take this approach in the initial stages of USArray. Concerns were expressed that this not be viewed as a separate, independent committee structure. The working group idea was supported if these groups reported only to their SC chair and did not meet independently (No new travel needed). The working groups were viewed as primarily a mechanism to get email input on various matters from committed community members.

Recommended ExCom Action: ExCom should discuss and endorse this concept so that the intent of the working groups is clear.

Action: Owens and Ingate are tasked with modifying the text of the Charge to CoCom to include EarthScope responsibility and oversight, and will present a draft to ExCom for review.

Action: Ingate to place USArray purchase and delivery schedule on EarthScope website. Also to place a link to nominal Transportable Array lat/long coordinates that were used in the diagrams of Transportable Array deployment.

Action: Wherever possible, the term “EarthScope Observatory” should be used to describe the EarthScope facility, to distinguish it from EarthScope as the overreaching earth science initiative.

Action: Ingate is to replace STS-1 with VBB in future EarthScope Observatory budget and planning documents to allow maximum flexibility in the procurement process.

• USArray RFPs

A single RFP calling for proposals to host and manage the Array Network Facility (ANF) will be released soon. Fowler and Ingate will develop a timeline for drafting, publishing, reviewing and award and distribute to CoCom for review within the next 2 weeks. A Working Group composed of Ahern, Fowler, Ingate, James and Nolet will meet virtually and draft the proposal and distribute to CoCom for review. Proposals will be evaluated using “traditional” presidentially-appointed committees.

Recommendation to ExCom: CoCom suggests that the ANF proposals be limited to IRIS membership.

The RFP for the Transportable Array installer will not be needed until near the end of Year 1. Year 1 activities concerning the Transportable Array will be mostly through partnerships with regional network operators.

• USArray RFQs

RFQs are required for hardware purchasing. In the near-term, 4 RFQs will be issued to the major vendors and advertised broadly:

  • VBB and BB sensors (for TA, FA and Backbone)
  • SP sensors (for FA)
  • BB DAS (for TA, FA and Backbone)
  • SP DAS (for FA)

PASSCAL will coordinate with GSN on the specifications and numbers of BB/VBB systems being requested so as to take advantage of the bulk buy-in of equipment. RFQs will be prepared by Fowler and sent to CoCom and John Collins of the Instrumentation Committee for a brief comment period. Responses from the vendors will be sent to CoCom and Collins for evaluation.

GPS (Backbone Array) Will be ordered and integrated by ASL, in coordination with UNAVCO to take advantage of UNAVCO bulk buy-in.

USArray Staffing:
Fowler in coordination with IRIS HQ will take the lead in recruiting the Transportable Array manager, with help from PASSCAL Committee members. The new position is expected to work from the PIC, but this requirement may be re-evaluated depending upon the applicant’s experience and wishes.

Ahern in coordination with IRIS HQ will take the lead in recruiting new DMS staff, with help from DMS Committee members. It is likely that these new staff will be recruited locally.

• Regional Interactions

Action: Ingate will work with Barbara Romanowicz to set up a meeting between CISN and IRIS (Ahern, Fowler and Ingate) to discuss interaction with USArray deployment in California.