Subject: Institutional support for the AS2 project

From: Richard Kron

Submitted: Tue, 22 May 2007 19:37:49 -0500

Message number: 1029 (previous: 1028, next: 1030 up: Index)

Dear colleagues:

This note concerns a number of aspects of institutional support for the
After SDSS-II (AS2) project.

AS2 is preparing funding proposals to agencies, and as for SDSS, we need to
show strong institutional support.  We are assuming that the institutions
will collectively provide 30% or so of the total cash and in-kind

When the proposals are submitted, it will therefore be important to include
letters of interest from potential institutional partners.  If your
institution is interested, the following gives an example of a non-committal
but still useful response.  If your Department can make a stronger
statement, even better.  (Please make sure responses from Departments are
coordinated - we need one per institution, of course).

Example letter of support for proposals:

Dear Richard and Daniel:

Astronomers in my Department have read the white paper describing the "After
SDSS-II" (AS2) project, and have found the scientific program to be of
exceptional interest and a good match to our Department's planned direction
in the next several years.

We strongly support the proposals for AS2 being prepared for submission to
funding agencies.  One way that we can help is contribute to AS2 as an
institutional partner.  We are starting to explore the level at which we may
be capable of joining, and we will keep you informed as these discussions

Sincerely yours,

X. Y. Z.

Separately, last month I sent an appeal for "at-risk" small contributions to
SDSS-II Advisory Council members and ARC Board of Governors members.  I am
pleased that the response was good, but it may be worth repeating some of
those words in case we missed some opportunities.  Excerpting,

"I would now like to ... request volunteered contributions
at the $20k level, or whatever amount makes sense from the point of view of
matching interest with risk.  In-kind effort will be gratefully accepted if
it can apply against the near-term needs and if this effort is identified
by the AS2 management as critical for the project.  Funds received will be
kept in a special account by Mike Evans, separate from SDSS-II accounts,
and the funds will be spent (or the in-kind work directed) by Daniel with
the oversight of the SC.  When AS2 eventually raises the rest of the
necessary funds and is otherwise successful, then any cash contributed now
would of course count towards the institutional membership fee in AS2.  If
AS2 is not successful, then these funds may not be repaid.

It is worth noting that raising some money now will provide a demonstration
of support ... that will be an asset during early discussions with funding

Finally, the AS2 Steering Committee has converged on the rules for
contributions to AS2 for institutional membership. The following gives the
text, which is supposed to be self-contained, but please contact me if you
have any questions.


Rich Kron
for the AS2 Steering Committee


Procedures for Obtaining Membership in After SDSS-2
This document outlines ground rules for institutional membership in the
After SDSS-2 (AS2) surveys.  These rules are proposed by the AS2 Steering
Committee for the approval of the ARC Board of Governors.  After the initial
AS2 collaboration has formed, the Steering Committee will transfer authority
to the Advisory Council (AC), a body with representation from the
institutional partners.  At that point the Advisory Council may opt to
modify these rules (again with the approval of the ARC Board of Governors).
The scenarios and budgets described in this document are preliminary and
subject to modification.
AS2 is planned as a six-year survey, with observations beginning in July
2008, and ending in June 2014. An additional year of support for data
processing and archiving will be required.  AS2 is comprised of four
individual surveys: SEGUE-II, MARVELS, APOGEE, and BOSS.  Participation in
AS2 includes the entirety of the project, as opposed to selections of
individual surveys. Hence, membership in AS2 provides institutions with
access to all of the data, even if particular institutions or individuals
confine their efforts to a limited subset of the surveys.
Membership in AS2
Membership in AS2 is open to individual institutions; other collaborative
buy-in arrangements will be considered on a case-by-case basis if there are
compelling and mutually beneficial reasons to do so.  Membership in AS2 is
recommended by the Steering Committee (and ultimately by the Advisory
Council) to the ARC Board of Governors.  One criterion for membership is a
tangible contribution to the construction or operating needs of the AS2, as
described below. 
Full Institutional Membership includes data rights for an unlimited number
of participants from the institution.  Full Membership is expected to
require a total contribution of a particular amount that is expected to be
between $750k and $1M, depending on the number of partners recruited and the
success of other fund-raising efforts. In most cases this membership fee
would be paid in annual installments over the lifetime of the project, where
front-loading of payments is necessary to fund the required hardware and
software upgrades.  All partners are encouraged to join as Full members.
To accommodate institutions that cannot commit to a Full membership,
Associate Institutional Membership includes data rights for a specified
number of Participants, where the cost-per-Participant is set to one-fifth
of the cost of a Full membership.  These Participants would be named, as
opposed to pooled.  Participants are understood to be long-term scientific
staff, e.g. faculty (tenured and non-tenured), research-track scientists,
and equivalent.  Participation rights can be moved from one researcher to
another with the consent of the Director; the Director (and AC if necessary)
has the authority to limit over-use of this flexibility.  Each Participant
is allowed to share data-access rights with one postdoctoral fellow.
Graduate students, undergraduate students, and individuals within two years
of their first bachelor degree (e.g., individuals working for a year before
going to graduate school) are limited to those working directly with one of
the Participants.   Postdocs and other professionals who are supported by
AS2, or whose work is counted as an in-kind contribution, will also have
data-access and other participatory privileges so long as they are spending
the majority of their time on an activity acknowledged by AS2 to be of
general service to the project. A minimum of three Participants is required
to have a vote on the AC, to have a representative on the collaboration
Council (CoCo), and to be listed as a member on official boilerplate.
However, an institution may join with one or two participants.
Contributions to AS2
Contributions can be cash or in-kind, and measured in US dollars.   Only
direct costs will be counted as in-kind contributions (i.e. including fringe
benefits but excluding institutional overheads).  All in-kind contributions
need to specifically address items in the Director's budget and must be
approved by the Management Committee (MC) and the AC. Hardware and software
developed previously for SDSS, SDSS-II, and the ET Pilot Program would
generally not be counted as an in-kind contribution for AS2.
AS2 will have seven annual payment periods, starting in January, 2008, and
ending in December 2014. The requested contribution schedule will be
frontloaded with a minimum profile such that 3/14 is due in 2008, 1/7 in
2009 through 2013, and 1/14 in 2014.  Frontloaded payments in excess of the
nominal profile will receive a small (3% per year) adjustment for
anticipated inflation as a means to encourage earlier contributions.
Additional encouragement may be granted by the SC and AC to provide a bonus
of up to 10% if offered funds in 2007 and 2008 are required to meet the AS2
cost profile.  For example, if one paid the entire cost in 2007, this
benefit (10% plus 3% inflation adjustment) would be about 81 cents on the
It is anticipated that payments will be required no later than the first
quarter of each calendar year of the survey, beginning in 2008.  It is
understood that 2008 contributions carry some risk, as they will likely be
due before full funding is assured.
It is recognized that there may be cases in which institutions cannot commit
(or fulfill) their full contribution for the seven-year period. Such
institutions will forfeit their rights to data taken after the default of
payment, although specific situations will be dealt with as they arise by
the Director, the MC and the AC.
It is anticipated that some data processing, archiving and release costs
will be incurred in 2015. The AS2 project will strive to handle
institutional contributions towards these expenses by careful forward
budgeting, rather than by additional requests for funding.
The AS2 project intends to negotiate a waiver of overhead rates with MOU
partners as part of work packages.  SDSS, SDSS-II, and the 3.5-m telescope
were projects undertaken by ARC that set an example whereby in general ARC
member institutions and MOU partners waived recovery of indirect costs on
work conducted at the respective institutions. This policy (of having
institutions where work is done carrying the burden of the IDC costs) was a
significant indicator of commitment to the funding agencies for SDSS and
SDSS-II, and we can expect the same to be true for AS2.
Governance in AS2
Full and Associate Institutional Members with at least three Participants
have equal representation and voting rights on the AC and CoCo (i.e., one
vote per institution) and will be listed as institutional partners on
official project boilerplate.

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