As many of you know, IRIS has worked closely with UNAVCO for many years despite the different areas of focus of our consortia and the facilities we operate. We believe these joint efforts have been quite successful in supporting our vibrant scientific communities and they have continued under our new GAGE and SAGE awards. The National Science Foundation (NSF) announced this morning at the SAGE-GAGE Workshop that they wish to take this cooperation one step further and will require that the SAGE and GAGE facilities be managed as a single, integrated facility with one operator after our current awards end in September 2023.
Continued support of our communities remains a priority. We believe there may be potential scientific and operational benefits of an integrated facility and even closer coordination between our research communities in the future. We have therefore begun to explore options to ensure the sustainability of our community-governed facilities and our consortia while meeting NSF’s requirements for management of these facilities going forward. This exploration includes conversations with UNAVCO about our long-term relationship and what a more formal collaboration in the future, including a potential merger, might look like to better support our respective research communities. We have great respect for UNAVCO — its staff, its community of scientists, and its work — and we will continue to work together with them no matter where this process leads us.
The IRIS and UNAVCO Boards will be leading this assessment process with guidance from La Piana Consulting, a neutral third-party with extensive nonprofit experience. They are evaluating our organizations’ readiness to increase our level of collaboration. Our focus to date has been on understanding the range of options available for strategic partnerships, including the benefits and risks associated with each option. Immediately following the SAGE-GAGE workshop, our Boards will meet together to review the information La Piana has gathered. No decisions have been made at this point and we have no set timeframe for making decisions, but we will do our best to share information with you about these deliberations as it becomes available.
There will also be a discussion on Friday morning of the SAGE-GAGE Workshop on future management models for geodetic and seismic facilities and an opportunity for community members to ask questions of both NSF, and IRIS and UNAVCO leadership, about these potential changes. Members of both Boards will also be available during the workshop to talk with you about any questions or comments you might have.
We thank you for your patience as we carefully consider how best to advance our mission in the years ahead. If you have questions or comments, please contact Doug Wiens or Bob Detrick.