[unav_all] EarthScope Lifecycle Transition to Operational Management Structure

unav_all-owner prescott at unavco.org
Thu May 18 09:05:51 MDT 2006


Directorate for Geosciences
Division of Earth Sciences


To:		EarthScope Community

From:		James H. Whitcomb
		Section Head, Deep Earth Processes
		Kaye Shedlock
		Program Director, EarthScope

Date:		May 17, 2006

Subject:	EarthScope Lifecycle Transition to Operational 
Management Structure

We can all be proud of the success of EarthScope to date.  With more 
than half of the five-year construction period past, the facility 
construction is on-time and on-budget within the 10% NSF Government 
Performance and Results Act (GPRA) goals.  More importantly, a robust 
competitive science support program is underway and exciting results 
have emerged including penetration and identification of the San 
Andreas Fault at depth, the capture of an Aleutian volcanic eruption 
with GPS stations, and the capture of a Pacific Northwest silent 
earthquake episode with borehole strain, GPS, and seismic 
installations.  This kind of breakthrough science is why NSF is 
building this large and complex facility for the community with 
support of the Major Research Equipment and Facilities Construction 
account.  These successes are due in large part to the considerable 
time and talents devoted to the construction of EarthScope by the 
facility management, staff, and field technicians.

Transition to Operational Phase.  Year four of the five-year 
construction phase starts this coming October 2006.  The 
Transportable Array initial full deployment should be complete and 
start to roll in 2007.  As more of the facility becomes operational, 
it is important to start the transition towards an operational 
management structure.  Towards this goal, NSF initiated the 
development of a transition plan in consultation with review and 
advisory panels, and with guidance by NSF management within the 
Directorate for Geosciences, the Office for Budget, Finance, and 
Award Management, and the Director's Office.

The key feature of the transition from EarthScope construction to 
operations is the phase out of the facility construction management 
structure and the ramp up of an operational program structure that 
involves strong community input and participation.

EarthScope Regional Community-Based Office.  Based on community 
advice and pending further discussions with the EarthScope community, 
NSF anticipates competitions for a series of EarthScope regional 
community-based offices that evolve with the program and move 
geographically (for example, western, central, eastern US, and 
Alaska), each with an approximately three-year lifetime.   These 
offices would provide focus, engage the community, and serve as a 
regional base of operations for EarthScope and provide the most 
effective community-based leadership to guide EarthScope science, 
education, and outreach.

EarthScope Lifecycle Transition Frequently Asked Questions

1) Why create a community-based EarthScope office?

EarthScope was planned by the community to be coordinated by the 
community. Review and advisory committees have recommended stronger 
community-based leadership to guide EarthScope science, education, 
and outreach. We are responding to that advice.

2) Why now?

EarthScope is already operating and data are being collected at 
hundreds of seismic, geodetic, and strain installations, and at depth 
in the SAFOD. The permanent USArray backbone stations will be 
completed with the next few months, and the initial deployment of the 
Transportable Array will be complete in a year. We have already 
reached such a high level of scientific interest, preliminary 
results, data collection, education, and outreach interest within the 
first footprint of the Transportable Array that it is time to begin 
the transition to a regionally based EarthScope office. Beginning 
this effort now also provides enough lead time for the office to be 
fully developed by the time the Transportable Array begins to roll in 

3) Is this unusual?

No. All of the other MREFC projects have had two different management 
structures, one for construction and another during facilities 
operations and maintenance. The EarthScope facilities are already in 
operation and maintenance mode as they are constructed. Having the 
regional office phase in as the facilities are completed preserves 
continuity and enhances the likely success EarthScope.

4) What are the responsibilities of the  "community based" EarthScope office?

The EarthScope community-based office will foster and facilitate 
integrated EarthScope science. The office will coordinate EarthScope 
scientific planning and provide scientific leadership for the 
EarthScope community. The office will work with NSF to facilitate 
collaborative research and when necessary, scientific response to 
"events" in EarthScope topics and regions of interest.

5) What is the relationship of the community-based office to the 
current facility office?

The principals in the community-based office will interact directly 
with NSF and facilities staff to provide content and direction to the 
EarthScope communications and support structures developed during the 
construction of the facilities. The technical capabilities built by 
the facility office will continue to be supported by the facilities, 
including web services, publications, meetings and workshop support. 
It is anticipated that necessary staff from the current 
construction-phase facility office will be retained by the facilities 
to continue to provide the excellent support and development they 
have provided throughout the construction phase of EarthScope.

6) What about the facilities reporting and management? Who would be 
responsible for that?

The facilities have been very successful in setting up their Earned 
Value Management (EVM) and other required reporting systems. That 
would remain the responsibility of the facilities. The 
community-based office would receive monthly updates and quarterly 
and annual reports about the facility via NSF. The status of the 
facility and data availability is available in near-real-time through 
the website, which will continue to operate and be maintained by the 

7) How will the community-based office be developed?

NSF will be guided by the community to determine the best procedure 
for developing the community-based office.  A peer reviewed proposal 
process is favored.

8) What would a community-based office be like?

Based on community input to date and on several other successful 
facility efforts, the community-based EarthScope office would consist 
of a PI and a small staff. Most of the communications infrastructure 
for EarthScope already exists, so the primary role of the office 
staff would be to provide leadership. Scientific guidance could be 
provided through a Steering or Advisory committee. The PI and 
committee would work with the office staff, facilities, and/or NSF to 
convene workshops and meetings. Similarly, they would facilitate 
program planning and coordination, the development of educational and 
outreach materials, liaisons with industry, and providing an 
EarthScope presence at national and regional meetings.

9) Where will the community-based office be located?

The location would be determined through the proposal process. 
Current advice favors an office that rolls across the US along with 
the USArray Transportable Array, spending several (~3) years in a 
region. For example, there might be western, central, eastern, and 
Alaska-based offices. The facilities would provide continuity as the 
community-based office "rolls".

10) Who may apply?

Universities, university-based consortia, and other groups with 
strong ties to local and regional science and education communities.

11) Will this be more costly?

We estimate costs to be about the same or less, with the added 
benefit of much greater direct community involvement.

12) Who should I contact for more information?

The NSF EarthScope Program Directors: Kaye Shedlock 
(kshedloc at nsf.gov; 703-292-6693).

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