1 June 2006
Last week I attended the meeting of the Funding Agencies for the Linear Collider (FALC) at the INFN Headquarters in a historic building nestled in the small twisty streets near the Pantheon and Piazza Navona in the heart of beautiful old Rome. This was the eighth meeting of the funding agencies – and perhaps the most important, at least in some ways.
Perhaps the most interesting discussions involved the governance structure of FALC. In particular, the funding agencies realised that in order to make progress towards a construction decision for the linear collider, FALC will have to consider the wider picture of particle physics research. For this reason, the scope of FALC was proposed to be broadened to monitor and exchange information on the major particle physics R&D programmes, including LHC upgrades, the ILC, CLIC, and a worldwide neutrino programme. By widening the focus, FALC hopes to be better able to find a path to the ILC that takes all these other factors into account. One might be concerned that this new larger scope could dilute the FALC efforts for the ILC - but that is certainly not the intent.
In terms of a tangible outcome of this FALC meeting, the Memorandum of Understanding for the GDE common fund was approved. This now paves the way for the small central office of the GDE to receive shared funding from the participating agencies in the different parts of the world for its operations. Up until now, the funding has come from the US DOE. Although the amount is modest (~$375K/year), it represents the first formal agreement of the funding agencies to provide shared funding for our efforts. The actual arrangement does not set a precedent for how the funding will be shared in the future, but it does set a precedent for how to create future central funding. The approved common funds are to support our GDE administrative work, ILC communications, web support, supplies and travel funds.
-- Barry Barish