MNRF Project - Contractual Background
Background to the proposal for an agreement between CSIRO and the University of Tasmania and DIST for the MNRF Program relating to funding for the upgrade of facilities and for the International Research Facilities Collaborations Program.
The Attorney General's Department has produced a draft agreement which is specifically aimed at establishing new National Facilities. However, the ATNF has been operating as a National Facility since 1989 and CSIRO has encountered considerable difficulties in formulating a draft contract to conform to the Attorney General's document. It has also been agreed that the ATNF represents a special case in that it is already operating as a National Facility.
Prior to agreeing on how the formulation of a draft contract is to proceed, the ATNF agreed to summarise our proposed approach to the MNRF Program. This would then enable high level agreement on the principles of our proposal to be considered, discussed and agreed.
This document gives an overview for such a staged approach.
Current CSIRO Documentation
CSIRO, in collaboration with the University of Tasmania, has prepared the following pre-contract draft documents:-
a) Draft Proposal for an agreement between the Commonwealth (the final version is dated 11 July 1996) This document is intended to give the key sections for the upgrade and operation of the programs. It was considered more important to achieve agreement on the principles; the detailed "boiler-plate" can follow later; and
b) Draft Schedules (dated 11 July 1996).
The Operation of the ATNF as a National Facility
Fig.1 shows the functional diagram for the ATNF. A Steering Committee, appointed by the Minister responsible to CSIRO, meets annually to review the operation of the ATNF, and to approve the annual report. It appoints a Time Assignment Committee to consider and approve applications for time on the facilities, and a Users' Committee which provides feedback by user representatives on the operation of the facilities. These committees have representatives from the organisations, including ATNF, that use the facilities.
It is our proposal that the upgraded facilities, including those of the University of Tasmania, when amalgamated with the ATNF for very long baseline interferometry (VLBI), operate within the same framework. The amended operational chart to reflect this is shown in Fig.2.
The Proposed Programs
There are two major programs:-
- The facilities Upgrade Program; and
- The International Research Facilities Collaboration Program
The draft budgets for the DIST contribution for these two programs are shown in Fig. 3. In addition, both organisation are contributing a total of $7.8 m in salaries plus direct overheads of existing staff.
Each program and the proposed management are now described.
The Facilities Upgrade Program
Fig 4 gives an overview of the projects which make up the Program. The two key areas of technology are:-
(a) High-frequency upgrade of the AT Compact Array (ATCA) at Narrabri; and
(b) VLBI upgrade for both the AT and the University of Tasmania. Fig.5 illustrates the proposed Australian VLBI network, which now brings Ceduna into the array.
To have oversight of this Program, a Facilities Upgrade Program Committee will be appointed and include-
- The Program Director (the Director of the ATNF)
- The ATNF Upgrade Program Manager,
- The Director of the University of Tasmania Radioastronomy Observatories,
- Program Scientist
- Program Finance Manager.
The Committee will meet quarterly and furnish quarterly reports to DIST, and an annual report to the Steering Committee. The Steering Committee will in turn provide a report to DIST in regard to the Program.
Fig.6 shows the functional diagram of the two Programs (The International Research Facilities Collaboration Program is described in Section 6.).
Fig. 7 shows the structure for the day-to-day management of the projects. Note that each organisation is responsible for the projects affecting its own facilities, but the ATNF provides the overall support in terms of funding from DIST and reporting to DIST.
The International Research Facilities Collaboration Program
The purpose of this Program is to further international collaboration for the sharing and development of both radio and optical facilities, including mutual design projects.
The overall structure for the operation of this program is illustrated on the right-hand side of Fig.6. In detail, the ATNF will call for project proposals on behalf of the National Committee for Astronomy and manage the recommended proposals on behalf of the National Committee for Astronomy.
The membership of the International Research Facilities Collaboration Program Committee will include:-
- The Program Director (the Director of the ATNF)
- Program Administrator (a CSIRO person)
- Representative appointed by the National Committee for Astronomy.
Like the Facilities Upgrade Program Committee, it will meet quarterly to review progress and provide reports to DIST.
CSIRO and the University of Tasmania have considered the contractual and operational implications of having a single agreement with DIST and request DIST to support this proposal.
Also, both organisations consider that their existing management support structures, such as accounting and asset registers, be accepted by DIST for reporting purposes.
It is our proposal, that if the general principles outlined in this document are agreed, then this would be the first step for the formulation of an agreement which could be drafted by the Attorney-General's Department.