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OPP Office Advisory Committee

Minutes
XXXIII Meeting of the Advisory Committee for the Office of Polar Programs

November 4 - 5 Arlington, VA

Members Present: 

Andrea Lloyd (Chair), Biology, Middlebury College
Edward Brook, Geosciences, Oregon State University
Sarah Church, Physics, Stanford University
Hajo Eicken, Geophysical Institute, University of Alaska, Fairbanks
Mark Engebretson, Physics, Augsburg College
Ben Fitzhugh, Anthropology, University of Washington
Anne Henshaw, Environmental Program, Oak Foundation
Richard Honrath, Atmospheric Sciences, Michigan Technological University
Bernice Joseph, Rural, Community and Native Education, University of Alaska, Fairbanks
Eric Saltzman, Earth System Science, University of California, Irvine

OPP Senior Staff Present: 

Karl Erb, Director
Mike Van Woert, Executive Officer
Sue LaFratta, Senior Advisor/Policy, Analysis & Operations
Scott Borg, Director, Division of Antarctic Sciences
Mike Montopoli, Head, Office of Polar Environment, Health and Safety
Brian Stone, Director (Acting), Division of Antarctic Infrastructure & Logistics
Simon Stephenson, Director, Division of Arctic Sciences

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The Fall meeting of the Office of Polar Programs (OPP) Advisory Committee (AC) was held at the National Science Foundation (NSF) in Arlington, Virginia, on November 4-5, 2008.

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Drs. Karl Erb and Andrea Lloyd opened the meeting at 8:30 a.m. by welcoming the members and thanking them for their continued contributions toward making OPP’s operations more effective. 

Dr. Mike Van Woert reminded members that the meeting was subject to Federal Advisory Committee Act rules and asked members to advise him in advance of topics in which they have a financial interest. 

A motion was made and seconded and, with all in favor, passed to accept the May meeting minutes.

Members and OPP staff introduced themselves.

OPP Director’s Report

Erb updated the AC on budget reductions necessitated by a Continuing Resolution (CR) at the FY 2008 level for the first six months of FY 2009 and increases in the cost of fuel, air and ship charters.  Despite budget issues, OPP is committed to preserving momentum for International Polar Year (IPY) projects.  The FY 2010 Budget Request process – different due to the Presidential Transition – was described.  Erb recapped the Agency’s IPY goals, including the legacies of international partnerships, synthesis activities, education and outreach, and improved data networks and data access.  Erb described recent international meetings and activities, and closed with OPP personnel changes and a brief overview of the agenda.

Responding to questions regarding future action on NSF’s budget, Erb explained that Congressional staff were briefed on budget opportunities, and that even under a year-long CR, additional funds could be made available as happened in 2008 when OPP received funds for IT and fuel.  Committee members asked how NSF educates Congress about impacts and opportunities.  Erb explained that NSF’s Director and Deputy Director are appointed by the President and that they make NSF’s needs known, and that OPP is often asked to provide data for that purpose.  NSF’s Office of Legislative and Public Affairs is also responsible for keeping Congress informed.  Asked how allocation decisions are made when additional funds do become available, Erb explained that NSF policy calls for the Director to consider needs throughout the Agency.    

Antarctic Support Contract Procurement

Erb introduced a session on the Antarctic Support Contract procurement.  Mr. Gunther Imer, Contracting Officer from NSF’s Division of Acquisitions and Cooperative Support, provided the Committee with a milestone schedule, showing activities completed and plans for the immediate future, including site visits to show potential offerors the full breadth of operations and science support they would be expected to provide. In response to questions from the Committee, Imer noted that 10 entities had expressed an interest in participating in the Antarctic visit.  The current contract is valued at $1.6 billion over a 10-year period, and the new contract is expected to reach $2 billion over a 13.5 year period.  Erb reminded the Committee that the procurement is subject to very detailed processes mandated by the Federal Acquisition Regulation, that OPP relies on the Contracting Officer to ensure those processes are followed, and that additional questions may be directed to Imer.

Canada’s Arctic Science Strategic Planning Activities

Danielle Labonté, Indian and Northern Affairs, Canada, discussed Canada’s plans for a high Arctic research institute.  Her talk included context for Canada’s interest in the Arctic, as well as its Northern Strategy which is based on four pillars:  sovereignty, economic and social development, environmental protection and governance, with science and technology (S&T) underpinning all four pillars.  In developing its S&T agenda, Canada is concentrating on its advantages – including geography, people and resources – in order to support a world-class leadership position in Arctic research.  Canada’s plan was informed by international benchmarking, consultations and site visits.  Canada will set its S&T priorities before determining the location and design of its infrastructure, and will design a flexible infrastructure that minimizes the environmental footprint.  Canada anticipates providing funds for a polar class icebreaker, its UNCLOS (United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea) claim, geomapping, universities, and an expanded military presence at Resolute.   

Members asked whether local communities were involved in preparing research plans.  Labonté explained that representatives from key Inuit and other aboriginal organizations as well as territorial department leaders were involved.  Labonté agreed with comments that international partnerships will be enhanced by new Canadian investments. 

Strategic Planning in an Era of Limited Budgets:  Introduction and Discussion Plan

Lloyd and Erb briefly outlined the goal for a series of sessions examining strategic planning.

OPP Response/Adjustment to FY 2009 Budget Constraints

Dr. Richard Honrath moderated this session.  Mr. Simon Stephenson reviewed Arctic issues, including historical budget information, statistics on projects and grants, Division accomplishments, and major science challenges.  The Committee was interested in hearing about budget decisions that had already been made, and Stephenson noted that infrastructure improvements at Summit Station, Toolik Field Station and Barrow had been deferred, as were some planned investments in energy efficiency.  The Committee asked whether reports such as the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) were considered in making strategic decisions, and Stephenson confirmed that they had. 

Dr. Scott Borg and Mr. Brian Stone next reviewed the budget outlook for the U.S. Antarctic Program and explained the adjustments that had been made to the research and operational programs on account of the reduced budget and increased costs.  The Committee was interested in hearing about the process used to determine the adjustments.  OPP explained that meeting international commitments was a factor, as was a desire to maintain commitments to projects that had been funded.  The process was an iterative one and included discussion of the impacts and consequences of each proposed reduction.  A high priority for the future is to continue efforts to reduce the amount of fuel that must be delivered to Antarctica through energy efficiency and renewable energy measures.  In addition, long-term strategic planning must encourage the sharing of resources through, for example, international partnerships.  The Committee commented that in order to avail itself of its partners’ resources, the U.S. will have to offer something in return, and this could further constrain resources.

AC members asked what OPP would do if savings in the Antarctic Program are realized from the cost of fuel.  Erb responded that savings would be allocated where they were most needed, and that in the longer-term OPP needed to find a way to deal with fuel-cost fluctuations.  The Committee asked whether OPP could hedge on the cost of fuel.  Erb explained that this might be possible, but the Anti Deficiency Act prevents the government from making commitments to purchase items for which it does not have appropriated funding.  The Committee also asked whether using economic modeling in order to make cost-benefit trade-offs between operations and science was being considered.  For example, should science be reduced now in order to make investments in energy-saving infrastructure for the benefit of science in the out-years?  Erb advised the Committee that OPP is also working with the Department of Energy on a Memorandum of Understanding to investigate energy efficiency and renewable energy technologies and the associated cost savings.  He noted that all these factors need to be included in OPP’s strategic planning process, and that some of the decisions currently being made are making projects more inefficient by, for example, adding time.  Stephenson explained that the Arctic Sciences Division is providing funding to develop an algorithm to help determine the optimum mix of ground traverse and airlift support for projects.  OPP invited the AC’s input on other ways to model costs and how investments in cyberinfrastructure might benefit activities.      

Strategic Planning in an Era of Limited Budgets:  How should we organize community input, set capital investments and scientific priorities?

In this session, moderated by Dr. Sarah Church, OPP and the AC discussed whether informing Principal Investigators (PI) of the real cost of what they do might lead them to economize.  Borg noted that proposers to the Antarctic Sciences Division are now required to identify more support information in their proposals, and that this information — but not the cost — is made available in summary form to reviewers.

Erb explained that priorities are set in discipline-based workshops, and asked the AC for input on planning strategically across disciplines.  Members asked whether AC’s for other parts of NSF set priorities.  Erb noted that while they do not set priorities they do advise on priorities and on how to involve the community in those discussions.  Erb introduced Dr. Chris Elfring, Chair of the National Academies of Science Polar Research Board (PRB).  Elfring explained the decadal survey process used by the astronomy community, noting that the process is expensive but efficient.  Smaller workshop formats have also been used, but she cautions that they involve fewer participants and so may not be sufficiently representative. 

The discussion turned to strategic planning in a time of limited budgets.  Erb asked whether OPP should give priority to infrastructure investments that reduce future costs.  AC members noted that OPP should invest in new platforms, in savings, and in bricks and mortar, but that how much to invest in each is an OPP decision.  Since the AC is designed to have representatives in the range of disciplines that OPP supports, it was suggested that an AC subgroup could advise OPP on a model for decision-making and priority-setting.  Community buy-in would be important.  It would also be important for the community to know who is on the AC, and for there to be a way for the community to provide input.  Another suggestion was to develop a web-based survey that asks which of investment A, B, or C would be of more import.  Examples of questions include what percentage of OPP’s budget is appropriate for McMurdo infrastructure versus deep-field research; how big should South Pole’s summer camp be, and what should it look like.  The AC subgroup would either advise OPP on these issues or would develop a model for OPP to use.  Members noted that input from the community could be brought to AC meetings if the agenda was available in advance.  Another suggestion was for a portion of each meeting to be devoted to discussing prioritization and strategic planning.  Some members felt that the AC was not representative enough and that strategic planning is outside the AC’s role.  Erb agreed that OPP is responsible in the end for making decisions, but that the AC can ensure that OPP is informed about issues that are important to the community.  For example, is the community interested in an instrumented airplane, or is there an imbalance between fixed infrastructure and expeditionary science? Erb asked how community input should be organized, noting that the traditional workshop mechanism leads to the need to balance input from the various workshops.  The AC recommended documenting issues that the community can weigh in on, and for the AC or a subgroup to synthesize the results.  The community would then have transparency into the process and an incentive to participate.  The AC decided that a review of what is done, and what needs to be done, would be done at a future meeting.   

Strategic Planning in an Era of Limited Budgets:  How can the OAC best communicate with the community, and what expertise is needed on the OAC?

Dr. Eric Saltzman moderated this session.  The AC recommended that it develop a newsletter following each AC meeting to update the community on the AC’s activities and provide an avenue for people to make comments.  Erb agreed but noted that thought should be given to who would respond to comments.  Members thought that it would be important to make the community aware of who is on the AC and how to contact them and to advertise meetings early.  Erb urged that members come to the meeting with a high-level view and not carrying the message of a particular community.  Regarding strategic planning, Erb asked the AC to consider whether OPP should be relying more on SCAR (Scientific Committee on Antarctic Science) and IASC (International Arctic Science Committee), which develop science programs.  OPP committed to providing workshop and other reports that are used in the planning process so that the community can see what OPP uses in its planning process.  The Committee posed several questions to OPP to guide development of information on priorities and strategic planning.  OPP indicated that a short (20 pages or so) document identifying key themes, with broad input from approximately 20 community representatives would be desirable.  The document would be updated every three or so years, and WIKI could be used to solicit input for review of drafts.  While the Academy reports are effective in getting Congressional attention, an AC report would meet OPP’s needs given the evolving nature of OPP’s plan.    

Strategic Planning in an Era of Limited Budgets:  How can OPP maximize flexibility to enable quick response to newly emerging frontiers?

Dr. Ed Brook moderated this session.  Erb explained that one driver for this discussion is the fact that there are areas of Antarctica where there is not easy access or where access is limited because resources are devoted to fixed bases.  OPP is interested in how to make its program more flexible.  Brook noted that the best way to have flexibility is to have money and that one way to create flexibility is to make investments that save money.  He explained that NASA suspended science for a year in order to invest in miniaturization.  Miniaturization created space on aircraft that was otherwise a completely used resource.  Erb agreed, remembering that an AC subcommittee convened earlier to investigate the fuel situation had recommended that OPP "right size" McMurdo and ensure that only what must be done in Antarctica is done in Antarctica.  A prior goal had been to create an Antarctic "campus".  Noting that maintaining a campus limits flexibility, he asked for comments.  AC members asked whether there are large, pressing problems that have not been addressed due to a lack of flexibility.  One example might be the lack of a platform to do airborne chemistry: is a process in place for scanning the horizon and for ensuring that research needed to inform decision-makers is being done?  In addition, is OPP doing a good job in letting the community know about issues that need to be addressed?   The AC added the caution that it will still be important for Program Officers to reserve a portion of their budget so that they can address emerging issues. 

AC members thought that OPP could be more responsive to the emerging information needs of stakeholders such as local communities in the Arctic.  Some cited the British Antarctic Survey’s attempts to increase flexibility in order to be able to respond to emerging needs.  OPP pointed out that the British Antarctic Survey operates to some extent in a top-down model and that OPP does have the flexibility to shift support towards urgent issues but the scientific community would have to be supportive of such a shift.

Preparing for the Arctic Sciences Division Committee of Visitors

Dr. Ben Fitzhugh moderated this discussion, explaining that the Arctic Sciences Division identified several elements for attention — e.g., quality and effectiveness of the merit review process and the way in which logistics costs can be contained in proposals or estimates of costs factored into the award decisions; quality and significance of the results of the Division’s programmatic investments (balance and priorities; contribution to IPY; ability to identify and support a portfolio of Potentially Transformative Research); the relationship between award decisions, program goals, and NSF’s strategic goals; and the quality and effectiveness of logistics support.  The AC will need to think carefully about jacket selection, including how to select jackets and how many jackets to review.  The AC said it expected OPP to provide an update on progress since the last COV and for Program Officers to brief the COV on their programs.  The AC also expressed an interest in having access to final project reports.

Preparing for the Antarctic Sciences and Antarctic Logistics Committees of Visitors Reviews

Dr. Mark Engebretson moderated this session.  Erb explained that the COV would be asked to evaluate the effectiveness of the sciences, logistics, and environmental, health and safety programs.  How to structure the charter and how to collect and present information that would be needed to answer the questions would be discussed.  He added that some activities in the Polar Environment, Health & Safety Office are specialized and therefore reviewed by a medical panel each year, but that some activities will require COV review, such as environmental permitting and environmental impact assessments.   

Arctic and Antarctic COVs — Milestones

The meeting moved to a discussion of what data would be provided to the COV and when the COVs would be held.  Regarding finalizing the charter, Erb suggested that if chairs are identified early enough, they could be involved in drafting the charter.  The AC developed milestones for planning the COVs.  There will be three — Arctic Sciences, Antarctic Sciences, and Antarctic Logistics — with the latter two also having a joint session to evaluate how the science and logistics divisions interact.  The science COVs will need to review a selection of jackets resulting in awards and declines.  The logistics COV also needs to look at both to understand whether logistics factors played into decisions to fund or not and to judge whether the decisions were made appropriately.  The logistics COV will also look at how well science support materialized.  The process for identifying jackets should be random, and the AC suggested that different scale projects should also be looked at since these are handled differently.

IPY Legacy-building Activities:  What should NSF be doing?

Introducing this session, Erb talked about solidifying IPY legacies, such as the Arctic Observing Network.  Dr. Anne Henshaw moderated this session, which began with a presentation by Engebretson on an Antarctic Observing Network, PAntOS (Pan Antarctic Observing System) which has been adopted by SCAR.  One objective of PAntOS is to address, identify and understand current and planned observation networks over the Antarctic.  Another is to deliver a comprehensive analysis of existing observations and an initial assessment of where deficiencies exist.  Erb noted that something to connect up with this if it is not already connected is the Antarctic operators’ initiative to network weather observations for aviation, and another interesting and potentially important connection is the weather data provided to the World Meteorological Organization. 

Regarding IPY legacies, the AC discussed the challenge of bringing together the results of hundreds of research projects focused on several themes (e.g., permafrost, sea ice).  Erb said he thought the Arctic Council’s Snow, Water, Ice and Permafrost Assessment (SWIPA) project will result in a nice synthesis of the state of knowledge, but he asked whether additional areas will require attention, such as a synthesis of the Arctic and the Antarctic work on climate change and its impacts.  Erb asked whether OPP should be proactive in fostering synthesis activities beyond participating in activities sponsored by others, and asked whether there are areas that are currently under emphasized.  Stephenson remarked that it would be interesting to examine the IPY themes and what is going on under each of them.  For example, the Arctic Social Sciences program has been creative in funding research under IPY but also through regular solicitations and with the Social, Behavioral and Economic Sciences Directorate.  He continued, noting that another area is education, and asking whether an award should be made to review the portfolio of education awards to document what was done and the value of what was done.  AC members suggested funding a workshop for PIs to review what was done, or sponsoring a competition to fund synthesis work.  Erb noted that NSF’s Partnerships for International Research and Education — PIRE — program would be a potential source of funding.  Erb asked whether bipolar synthesis activities are underway to assess the state of knowledge of current sea level change on account of ice sheets at both poles.  AC members advised that there is a study that includes published data through approximately six months prior to IPY that could be used as a baseline.  With the next IPCC assessment due in 2012, Erb asked whether there is something that should be done to inform this next report.  The AC discussed the legacy of data and ensuring its availability.  Members also noted that education and outreach activities have brought IPY to the classroom and the living room so there is now a substantial portion of the public that has a deeper understanding of the issues.  Even so, the AC suggested that it is worth pursuing a way to synthesize information for these people, some of whom are decision-makers.  AC members also noted that the industrial population will be concerned with shipping, etc.  Erb explained that NSF’s Directorate for Social, Behavioral and Economic Sciences did a survey of the state of knowledge of polar regions before IPY and will conduct a follow-up after IPY.  Another aspect of the legacy effort is to demonstrate to stakeholders that the funding was well spent and to identify next steps.  AC members remarked that one of the goals of IPY was to bring in new scientists, and also that it must be recognized that the burst of research did not answer all the questions – while synthesis is important, continuing to fund research is also important. 

Tuesday Wrap-Up

The AC discussed various methods for implementing a strategic planning process, and it was agreed that a brochure would be developed.  A motion was passed to form an AC subcommittee to work with OPP to review past workshop reports and determine whether sufficient material exists to develop the vision document.  The subcommittee’s findings will form the basis of a recommendation to OPP as to steps to take.


Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Building and Coordinating National and International Scientific Polar Activities

Dr. Hajo Eicken moderated this session.  In his introduction, Erb said that OPP needs to know how to best represent the needs of the scientific community as it engages with international partners, and how the scientific community’s interests align with these international activities.  Dr. Neil Swanberg provided an example of a stellar success.  Just as the Bering Sea Ecosystem Study (BEST) program was beginning in the U.S., OPP recognized that it was ultimately going to be something that would have international interest.  Thus, international interest was developed as BEST was developed.  A broader program was SEARCH (Study of Environmental Arctic Change), which started as a U.S. effort but which was soon followed by DAMOCLES (Developing Arctic Modeling and Observing Capabilities for Long-term Environmental Studies).  A formal agreement between SEARCH and DAMOCLES was then developed, with expectations outlined, and it is now very successful.

Stephenson explained that IASC is trying to model itself after SCAR, so the challenge for IASC will be to provide a place for scientists to meet and to make itself more relevant to scientists.  Erb noted that building blocks in different nations are starting to link together in a positive and bottom-up way and that at some point an organization such as IASC might want to take ownership.  The AC suggested that OPP serve as the institutional memory for what does and does not work when establishing international partnerships, and ensure researchers are aware of the various avenues for conducting international research. 

The International Sustained Arctic Observing Network

Dr. Eicken moderated this session.  Dr. Martin Jeffries presented information on the Sustained Arctic Observing Network (SAON) Initiating Group’s purpose, members and activities.  The Group developed a set of recommendations that will be submitted to the Arctic Council, IASC and others by the end of IPY.  The AC had several questions regarding the recommendations.  For example, how is “research” observing defined and funded, and how is research observing different from “operational” observing.  Erb commented that the research might create instrumentation that in the long-term meets the needs of operational observations.  Following the discussion, the AC enthusiastically supported the SAON effort.

AC members noted that there are a lot of potential international partnerships because entities are organized under many umbrellas, but U.S. researchers are not aware of how to engage to make their voices heard.  For example, how would the scientific community provide information to IARPC (the Interagency Arctic Research Policy Committee, the U.S. Government’s representative to SAON).  Erb said one option might be to include a link to the IARPC summary of U.S. observation efforts on the AC’s website, and also on a WIKI site and invite the community to comment.  The AC endorsed OPP’s suggestion to provide information on the linkages between the various building blocks of the domestic and international bodies (e.g., NASA, NOAA, EU).  OPP noted that the project would not be completed until the Spring.    

Meeting with NSF Director

Following introductions, the Director thanked the AC for their service to NSF. 

The Director discussed the importance of the IPY legacy, including the benefits that will follow from the large amount of data that was generated during IPY and taking advantage of international collaborations which were another major legacy. 

The FY 2009 budget situation was summarized, as were thoughts on the new administration’s priorities and the process for developing the FY 2010 budget request.  The AC asked about changes in science policy.  The Director pointed to an increase in NSF’s international collaborations.  In addition to PI to PI partnerships, NSF is also investing in more student/faculty/graduate student/PI exchanges.  The Director and the AC discussed the impacts of internationalization on the research enterprise, the trend toward less fundamental and basic research being performed by the private sector, the changing role of universities and faculty responsibilities, and the integration between private and public that is needed to address today’s challenges.

With the Deputy Director’s arrival, the AC asked whether there were any updates from NSF’s IPAMM (Impact of Proposal and Award Management Mechanisms) study.  The Deputy indicated that a pilot to address the "churn" issue was under consideration. "Churn" occurs when a proposal that is declined is resubmitted again.  The pilot would allow the PI to address the reason for the decline without having to rework the entire proposal.  Another possibility is to hold proposals that program officers want to fund until funding becomes available, rather than to decline them. 

Responding to the AC’s strategic planning discussion, the Director noted that strategic planning is critically important to NSF and particularly to OPP because of its complexity – i.e., the competing demands of operation and maintenance of facilities, logistics, and research and development.  He explained that there would be savings from improving the infrastructure and introducing renewable energy, and that often these initiatives are deferred in order to keep the research program viable. A supplement in FY 2008 provided much needed funding for fuel costs and for some IT issues in the Antarctic.  Whether you can manage better with strategic planning is difficult to answer until you try, and this is where the AC can be of assistance since it sees the issues from a different perspective and has an understanding of some of the problems. 

The Director also provided information on NSF’s Office of Cyberinfrastructure, including how it began and its vision for research and education.

Challenges in Defining, Supporting and Doing Systems Science

Dr. Brook moderated this session and introduced the topic by raising the question of balance.  He compared the FY 2009 OPP request, which allocates approximately 40 percent of the Arctic budget to the system science program and 25 percent to the natural sciences, to the FY 2008 request where the percentages were equal.  In the Antarctic, the system science program is allocated less than 10 percent.  Another question is how to structure such a program so that it can still respond to new areas.  A third question is what is the best way to do system science — top-down may be more effective, but difficult to do in NSF’s proposal driven system.  A fourth question relates to program evaluation — does it work?  is there a method for evaluation?  is this a COV responsibility?  Erb agreed that the evaluation question should be added to the COV charter.    

As a basis for the discussion, Swanberg provided a brief explanation of the motivation for developing the Arctic System Science program.  Some of the lessons learned include the need for a management style that encourages people to get together and to work together. In the Antarctic, a workshop was held to first determine whether there was a need for a system science program.  As a result, and after hearing about the Arctic program’s history, successes and sidetracks, the Antarctic program was initiated and now funds several projects.  A clear message from the community was that it did not want targeted solicitations but instead wanted ideas to come from the community.  There were more proposals than could be supported logistically, but with IPY ending and a focus on synthesis (which is less logistically-intensive), there is an opportunity to grow the program. 

Stephenson noted that the activity has generated a lot of excitement and is successful, but he found that a lot of small awards are still being funded and to date the building blocks to create system level understanding have not been put together.  The challenge is how to be flexible, how to pay attention to changes in the natural world and the political/funding climate.  Stephenson also noted that there is a role for special solicitations in the Arctic program because there is not any other way to get what is needed. 

Dr. Brooke asked whether the natural sciences program is funded well enough.  Erb said that one way to get at this for some areas of disciplinary science is to ask whether we should be relying more on the BIO Directorate or the GEO Directorate.  AC members commented that having a disciplinary and a systems program closely aligned with porous borders is remarkably flexible and is optimized, but that the relationship between OPP/GEO and OPP/BIO could be improved.  Members asked whether enough proposals are submitted to indicate an interest from the community in system science, and Swanberg confirmed that more proposals than can be funded are received. 

The AC noted that the scale at which science is done is broader than the scale at which people think and interact, and that there is not a mechanism that allows the process to work from the bottom up.  For some things, like promoting sea ice studies on a bipolar basis, top-down may be necessary.  Erb said this is where cyberinfrastructure tools could help.  Dr. Dan Lubin explained that tools are available and being used effectively by some communities, that tools facilitate communication and also create a record that is transparent.  The Arctic Sciences Division tried to use some cyberinfrastructure tools but found that people were not keen to put their ideas into the open in a tight funding environment.  Challenges also arise when a subset of a community comes up with ideas about how to proceed and that gets translated into a solicitation that does not adequately convey what was discussed and the thinking behind it.  This makes it difficult for a newcomer to understand what it is that is needed.  Using WIKI or a similar mechanism would be attractive since it would capture the background. 

Broadening Participation, Outreach and Education

Dr. Bernice Joseph, moderator for this session, began by advising the AC that NSF’s report on Broadening Participation was available on the NSF website.  Dr. Julie Palais, OPP’s representative to the NSF-wide working group on Broadening Participation, mentioned that the next phase of the work has begun, with discussions and development of recommendations included in the report. 

Palais introduced Dr. Sonia Ortega, Program Director in the Education & Human Resources Directorate, to give an overview of the recent SACNAS (Society for Advancement of Chicanos and Native Americans in Science) meeting.  Many NSFers attended the meeting, providing outreach to the community.  Ortega explained SACNAS’ origins and purpose, and noted that this year the SACNAS meeting theme was International Polar Year.  The meeting has never adopted a theme in the past, but due to this year’s success it will again have a theme next year.  Ortega went on to describe the conference’s events and highlights.  Erb noted that the SACNAS meeting is a very nice legacy of IPY.  Ortega commented on future SACNAS directions and urged the polar community to continue its participation even when IPY concludes.  Ortega said that there is also a need for people to participate in judging posters, etc., and that in addition to going to SACNAS meetings, OPP could bring SACNAS to NSF by inviting members to be on panels and to attend NSF-organized meetings.  Erb agreed, noting that this would present an opportunity to expand the range of people that is consulted. 

COV Planning

AC Liaisons are needed for each of the three COVs.  The Liaisons will work with Lloyd and Erb to nominate chairpersons, attend the COV meeting, and attend subsequent AC meetings to assist the COV chair in reporting back to the AC. 

AIL Liaison: Terry Wilson
ARC Liaison: Ben Fitzhugh
ANT Liaison: Mark Engebretson

The AC was invited to submit thoughts on the charter and on chairpersons to Lloyd, Erb and the Liaisons.  Lloyd, Erb and the Liaisons will then complete the COV membership.  The goal is to finalize COV membership and tasking prior to or at the Spring meeting.  With respect to tasking, Erb reminded the AC that the NSF template does not cover logistics, so that must be added.  The AC questioned whether the interplay between PIs and the support contractors would be reviewed.  Erb agreed that OPP’s management of the contractors was an appropriate area for review.  In addition, IPY needs to be overlaid on the template questions. Because IPY was agency wide, jacket review will need to be agency wide as well. However, because oversight may be assigned to a Program Officer that is not in OPP, OPP is not responsible for the quality of oversight done by these other Program Officers. 

In response to a question regarding how to evaluate effectiveness, Lloyd said that this question is outside the scope of the COV.  She confirmed, however, that it will be very important for OPP to brief the COV on how OPP does business so the COVs will understand how OPP works.

Dates will be fixed once chairpersons are identified.  The Arctic Science COV will be held in late September or November.  The Antarctic Science/Antarctic Logistics COVs will be held in October.  While there will be an Antarctic Sciences and a separate Antarctic Logistics COV, the two groups will need to interact since some of the questions require joint or complementary responses.  OPP suggested that the AC consider doing a “practice run” to see what can be accomplished over a three-day period. 

Meeting Wrap-Up

Erb thanked Lloyd for agreeing to chair the AC for an additional year in order to provide continuity for the Committee of Visitors process, and thanked members whose terms are ending for their service.

A subcommittee of the AC was formed to help OPP staff survey available material to determine whether it is sufficient to form the basis of a strategic plan and if not, what process/additional information is needed.  The subcommittee will also identify challenges that might benefit from AC input at the next meeting.  OPP:  Van Woert.  AC:  Henshaw.  In addition, Church and Brooke will assist (although they will not be at the next meeting), and Lloyd will poll the absent members to determine whether others are interested in assisting. 

In order to provide the community with information about the AC’s existence and activities, Lloyd proposed that the AC send an announcement to list servers when meeting minutes are available with a link to the AC website.  In addition, Lloyd will draft a synopsis of the meeting for distribution.  The AC also suggested that OPP provide orientation information to new members. 

The AC discussed posting information, such as Stephenson’s list of challenges, in a forum that would allow people to make comments.  While posting would be relatively easy, the challenge would be taking responsibility for moderating the discussion and synthesizing the comments.  Lubin will research tools that could be used.   

In closing, the AC encouraged OPP to set aside time at future meetings to allow for discussion of issues that surface during the meeting.

Adjourned at 2:30 p.m.

Acronyms used throughout this meeting:

Acronym Title
AC Advisory Committee
BEST Bering Sea Ecosystem Study
COV Committee of Visitors
CR Continuing Resolution
DAMOCLES  Developing Arctic Modeling and Observing Capabilities for Long-term Environmental Studies
IARPC Interagency Arctic Research Policy Committee
IASC  International Arctic Science Committee
IPAMM Impact of Proposal and Award Management Mechanisms
IPCC Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change
IPY International Polar Year
NSF National Science Foundation
OPP Office of Polar Programs
PI Principal Investigator
PAntOS Pan Antarctic Observing System
PIRE Partnership for International Research and Education
PRB Polar Research Board
S&T Science & Technology
SACNAS Society for the Advancement of Chicanos and Native Americans in Science
SAON Sustained Arctic Observing Network
SCAR Scientific Committee on Antarctic Research
SEARCH Study of Environmental Arctic Change
SWIPA  Snow, Water, Ice and Permafrost Assessment
UNCLOS  United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea


 

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