Standing Committee Meeting Report COCOM

April 2004

Report to ExCom

April 22–23 2004 CoCom Meeting

UNAVCO, Inc., Boulder, CO


Attendees: Tim Ahern (IRIS), Rick Aster (NMT), Rhett Butler (IRIS), Jim Fowler (IRIS), Shane Ingate (IRIS), David James (Carnegie), Thorne Lay (UCSC), Guust Nolet (Princeton), Tom Owens (USC), Candy Shin (IRIS), David Simpson (IRIS), Brian Stump (SMU), John Taber (IRIS).

Clarification of Annual Budget Process.  CoCom recommends ExCom adopt more clear and specific guidelines for the annual budget approval process

USArray Data Policy and Instrument Use Policy.  Action is required on both these policies as USArray experiments are set to begin.

USArray Construction: CoCom appreciates that USArray is a facility construction project, and asks ExCom to endorse this appreciation.

USArray MT Component.  CoCom asks the DirOps to report on USArray MT operations costs at the next ExCom.

USArray Advisory Committee.  CoCom asks that ExCom consider the value of forming a USArray Advisory Committee, balancing its charge with CoCom’s role in overseeing USArray operations.  The Advisory Committee should be reactive to respond to specific questions from Standing Committees, etc.

Instrumentation Committee.  The Instrumentation Committee expressed a need that to be truly proactive, funds should be made available in order to issue small subawards for the analysis of value-added sensors (such as barometers, magnetometers, super-conducting gravimeters, etc) and the purchase and testing of new instrumentation.  CoCom recommends that such requests be submitted on an annual “as needed” basis as Add Ons to the developing IRIS budget.

CoCom Meeting Format.  CoCom proposes a modification of CoCom meeting scheduling that will bring about enhanced efficiency and reduced costs associated with CoCom functions.  It is proposed that CoCom meeting scheduling be modified so as to overlap with the first day of the Spring and Fall ExCom meetings.  See detailed rationale. 

 Rational for new CoCom meeting format

CoCom has been operating for a number of years as a separate meeting prior to the Spring and Fall ExCom meetings.  These meetings have been successful in streamlining the budget discussion process at ExCom and enhancing program coordination.  After substantial discussion, there is consensus within CoCom regarding a proposed modification of CoCom meeting scheduling that will maintain these advantages and bring about enhanced efficiency and reduced costs associated with CoCom functions. 

It is proposed that CoCom meeting schedule be modified so as to overlap with the first day of the Spring and Fall ExCom meetings.  CoCom will meet for 1-day prior to ExCom, with CoCom membership attending the first day of ExCom meetings (as at present), leaving the second day for ExCom executive session. We recommend to start this at the Fall 2004 meetings, and do this for two full budget cycles, assessing impact on CoCom and ExCom before revisiting issue.

The Spring meeting of CoCom focuses on budget development and prioritization, with recommendations being presented to ExCom at its Spring meeting.  Currently there is typically two weeks between meetings.  A more structured budget process, as requested in another item of this CoCom report, will further streamlines this process.  Having dynamic update of budget spreadsheets will allow CoCom to present its recommendations to ExCom immediately.

A substantial portion of the CoCom meeting involves updates on material that is also presented at ExCom, and a single presentation to the combined group on the first day of ExCom meeting will eliminate the redundancy and eliminate the travel and time involved. This is particularly true for USArray activities, which involve many updates and overview, but as things have developed given the 'major construction project' nature of USArry, little direct CoCom action.

The Fall meeting of CoCom focuses on budget carry forward usage and other pan-IRIS coordination. There are again updates that are redundant with those presented to ExCom, so these meetings would also benefit from overlapping meetings as in the Fall.


1) 6 days x 13 CoCom participants =78 person working days (travel plus meeting) reduced by eliminating two isolated CoCom meetings each year; corresponding reduction in travel/meeting costs of about $26,000/yr.  This reduction is substantial for Standing Committee Chairs, Program Managers, and IRIS HQ staff.

2) Elimination of redundant presentations to CoCom members of material presented at both CoCom and ExCom meetings.

3) Opportunity provided for ExCom members with interest in greater familiarity with budget details to attend the CoCom budget discussions with marginal increase in travel costs and time.  No required increase in ExCom workload.

4) No significant reduction in budgetary/coordination efforts by CoCom and no loss of pre-digestion of budgetary details that allow ExCom to focus on big picture issues.