Director's Corner

31 August 2006

Barry Barish

Why Cost Confidentiality?

A central focus of the GDE at this time is determining the ILC cost in its present form. Over the next few months we will be doing selected studies to optimise the cost to performance. We have identified and are studying potential design changes, which in some cases will lead to proposals to our change control board, who will evaluate the benefits and risks and make a recommendation. Through this process we will shape the present ILC concept into the design we will eventually present in our Reference Design Report. As a result, I will write about various studies and design changes over the coming months, and I should begin today by discussing cost confidentiality: why it is necessary, and how this will limit what I can and cannot share.

The three cost engineers Tetsuo Shidara (KEK), Wilhelm Bialowons (DESY) and Peter Garbincius (Fermilab) at KEK this week.

Be careful where you pick up your rumours about ILC costs. Only four people, the three cost engineers and myself, have complete access to the ILC costing information. Our cost engineers Wilhelm Bialowons (DESY), Tetsuo Shidara (KEK) and Peter Garbincius (Fermilab) have worked together for almost a year, developing the method we are using to create international "value" costing. They are accomplishing this through a work breakdown structure that organises the costs, guidelines and instructions for our technical people to develop their cost information in a consistent way, and mechanisms to review and validate costs received. Finally, all this is done while abiding to a set of cost disclosure rules.

You may well wonder why we need cost confidentiality. Can't costs be made available and openly debated like the technical aspects of our design? Actually, there are several important reasons for keeping the money issue secret, and we have stated them as follows for our ILC design team:

  • to secure the integrity of the process such that industry can work with ILC-GDE in understanding the project without jeopardising their proprietary information;
  • to maintain the ability of ILC (and other similar projects, world-wide) to have fair, open, and unbiased competition for the awarding of contracts;
  • to allow the development of the ILC project definition and cost optimisations to occur within the ILC project, without public pressure, until the appropriate time as determined by ILC Project Director;
  • to acknowledge and respect that the ILC is not the sole owner of all the costing information to which it has been granted access after agreeing to the owner's confidentiality rules.

As a consequence, we have developed a set of ground rules that are evolving over time, stating who has access to what costing information, who can attend various costing meetings and what can be taken away from those meetings. The general approach we are using is to make available only "as needed" costs. It goes without saying that it is a serious handicap to restrict access to information, to limit who can participate in discussions and what can and cannot be shared with others. Yet, we are living within such guidelines and the process is leading to improvements in cost to performance for the ILC design.

-- Barry Barish