ATNF Director's Response to the

23 March 1999, ATUC Report to the Director

1. Issues concerning Triennium Funding (2000-2003)

The feedback from ATUC, together with input from the Steering Committee was included in our Triennium budget proposal to CSIRO. The outcome has been very favourable with no cuts to the base funding level and an additional budget component of $0.5M/year to provide seed funding for SKA developments. The only unfortunate outcome was an increased emphasis on external funding targets. ATNF is now expected to achieve 20% external funding. We believe 15% is more realistic based on past experience and we are negotiating.

2. Comment on the previous Triennium Plan (1997-2000) included a request for ATNF to set a more demanding target for available astronomy time.

In the 1999-2000 CSIRO Operational Plan, one of the planned achievements is the provision of at least 70% of the available time for astronomy on the Compact Array and Parkes radio telescope.

3. ATUC consulted the ATNF performance indicator item #2 "Responsiveness to users of ATNF facilities, as measured by shifts in resources into priority areas agreed upon with the user community" in relation to this question.

As far flexibility allows, the ATNF does seem to be responsive to the User Community's suggestions. We measure this responsiveness by the reaction of the Director to the recommendations of the ATUC reports.

No comment.

4. ATUC is interested in the concept of real-time data processing, and is satisfied with the current level of resourcing. We consider that more feedback from users is needed in order to make a full evaluation.

We are taking the job of getting user feedback seriously and have revised the Compact Array user questionnaire to obtain more input. In addition, Mark Wieringa has been interviewing visiting observers about the present system and astronomers' specific needs.

5. ATUC considers that the issue of offering both the new compact E-W configurations (352 and 367) in the same Observing Term is a matter to be decided by the ATAC.


6. ATUC considers that it might be useful for the DA to carry a beeper, provided that it is not a source of radio frequency interference.

Enquiries are being made about the short-range communication system used at Dwingeloo.

7. ATUC recommends a more extensive investigation of the modifications proposed to remove the spectral ripple at Parkes. Both hardware and software solution should be considered. We recognise that there will be an impact on some users from any increase in system temperature.

Software solutions are being explored by the Multibeam HI group. The Observatory plans to conduct tests using absorber located below the focus cabin of the telescope.

8. At the present time there does not seem to be a great deal of interest in the use of the Bonn polarimeter.

Based on discussions and this response from ATUC we will not bring the Bonn polarimeter back into operation and we will redirect resources to other areas.

9. ATUC endorses the SRC proposal for a VLBI centre at Hobart, but defers discussion of the implications until the next ATUC meeting.

Proposal was not successful, and future implications need to be considered!

10. ATUC is concerned about the lower publication rate of Australian users compared to overseas users. We note that the percentage of overseas users is increasing and this may disadvantage Australian users. We ask the Steering Committee to review the allowed limit for overseas users. ATUC is split on what an appropriate level should be.

The Steering Committee agreed on a 40% guideline for external users. This is close to the current level.

11. ATUC recommends that AIPS support be maintained at a minimal level while there is still significant user demand. ATUC supports the running of frequent workshops on AIPS++.


12. ATUC notes that there is a shortage of accommodation at the Marsfield Lodge, and recommends increasing the number of single rooms.

We agree that there is a shortage, and discussions are being held concerning the increase of accommodation at Marsfield.

13. ATUC recommends that responsibility be assigned to someone for the maintenance and development of the AT calibrator list.

At present Dave McConnell has assumed responsibility for the maintenance and development of the CA calibrator list. Dave has applied for CA time (under the old C007 project, several collaborators including Narrabri staff and John Reynolds) in 99SEPT for the collection of more data on our calibrators.

14. Concerning the request for funding by Kurt Liffman, ATUC feels strongly that all applications for support of this nature should be made through the appropriate channels. Approval for such an appointment by ATUC would be contrary to equity principles.


15. The next ATUC meeting could be scheduled as early as mid-September to assist with ATNF planning. Alternatively, two days in the first half of November would be suitable.

Next meeting will be held during September 23-24.

16. A list of names of possible new members was prepared for submission to the Steering Committee.

The list of names from ATUC was used by the Steering Committee to determine the new committee membership.