24 July 2008
ILCSC approves new MOU at the Dubna meeting
The International Linear Collider Steering Committee (ILCSC) met on 4 June 2008 at the Joint Institute for Nuclear Research (JINR) in Dubna, Russia, in parallel with the first day of our Global Design Effort meeting. We began the day with a joint plenary session that featured talks by Sakue Yamada and myself, respectively describing the status and plans for the detectors and accelerator. An important outcome of the ILCSC meeting was the approval of a new Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) for the ILCSC that gives the mandate for the GDE Technical Design Phase for accelerator R&D and the Letter-of-Intent (LOI) phase for the detectors. In addition, several ILCSC members stayed in Dubna for the next morning to participate in a very lively special session of our GDE meeting on siting strategies.
The Global Design Effort is "legitimate" thanks to an ILCSC MOU that is an agreement to collaborate on the ILC design effort and formulates and defines our work. The ILCSC is a subcommittee of the International Committee for Future Accelerators (ICFA), and it assumes the scientific oversight of our work for ICFA. The original MOU for the GDE was to carry out the work culminating in last year's Reference Design Report. A new MOU covering the present phase of our work, which we call the Technical Design Phase, has been evolving in draft form for almost one year. At the Dubna meeting, a final version of this MOU was agreed to and is now in the process of being signed by the international collaborating institutions.
The single issue that caused the most consternation on the committee involved the question of intellectual property rights. This can be a very subtle issue, especially during the R&D phase, where innovation is a fundamental part in the process. For the laboratories that are funded with public funds, it is natural to share the innovations globally, so the entire project benefits from the developments in one laboratory or one region. But much of our work involves using industry, not just to "build to print," but rather to work together with us to develop the most cost effective and highest performing technical components. Sometimes (and we want to encourage it) this involves developments by industry that are not a result of the directly contracted work, and their rights need to be protected is such cases. The final spirit of the agreement in the MOU is that in those cases the contracted party has the right to royalties for their proprietary inventions. To make this work, the contracted work must be very well defined, so there is as little confusion as possible whether any innovations occur as part of the statement of work or are independently developed.
The second big topic of discussion for ILCSC involved how to approach the siting of the ILC. How and when will site proposals be solicited? What information should the GDE study in order to be in a position to give the best possible input to potential bidders? What role will the host play? Jonathan Dorfan, former Director of SLAC, chaired a stimulating special session during the GDE meeting that addressed these and some other questions. As a result of the discussions at Dubna, the ILCSC has decided that they will take the lead in developing a strategy toward siting, and the GDE will help by doing specific studies. Some examples of specific question we will study include shallow sites, single versus double tunnels, as well as more generally developing a set of requirements and desired features to provide to potential hosts.
Lastly, at Dubna we and the ILCSC identified the need to take a new look at various models for governance of a future ILC project, and the GDE will begin such an effort. We want to be prepared to discuss and work with potential hosts and collaborating governments and agencies on possible ways to structure this international project. We plan to survey other models of international collaboration on large projects in physics and astronomy, previous studies for high energy physics and the ILC, as well as develop our own models. We expect to carry out this work over the same time period as the Technical Design Phase (2008-2012). The study will be led by Brian Foster, who serves on the GDE Executive Committee, and he and I will be reporting more about it here as the work gets underway and progresses.
-- Barry Barish