[unav_all] UNAVCO core funding – 2013-2018

Meghan Miller meghan at unavco.org
Tue Sep 24 15:10:26 MDT 2013

UNAVCO Community members,

I am pleased to update you about the progress of UNAVCO's GAGE proposal and award - the new cooperative agreement that combines previous PBO and UNAVCO Facility activities into a single integrated facility - GAGE (Geodesy Advancing Geosciences and EarthScope).   The good news is that the GAGE award is now secured and scheduled to begin on October 1.   We are so pleased at the excellent reviews that were commanded by your science contributions, UNAVCO's support for your work, and for the extraordinary set of broader impacts that are intrinsic to geodesy.   We were also proud of the budget and management panel's evaluation that commended UNAVCO and its governance, and noted what great value was promised in the GAGE proposal (specifically, that the budget "underbid" the vision and the work plan....  This was high praise for great value!).    

The award comes with some bumps in the road, however.  As for all of the NSF-GEO facilities - we were informed of a 9% reduction from fiscal 2012 core EAR allocations. Two things add to this problem that are particular to UNAVCO:  (1) the GAGE plan was predicated on bringing many core activities that have been funded outside of our two core cooperative agreements into GAGE (such as Geodetic Imaging, which we will sustain with funds that augment the core) and (2) during the current fiscal year, we have been spending money accumulated in previous years (from high level vacancies and other one-time scope reductions), so far less money was allocated in 2012 than is needed to sustain our current level of activity.  Thus the impact to UNAVCO is far greater than a 9% reduction; it is 20% or $3.4M from the $14.89M EAR base that aggregated all of our core activities into a single plan and formed the basis for NSF's guidance for GAGE planning.

We have worked very hard this summer to get to a budget that meets NSF's intent, working in close coordination with governance.  Some of the activities that we had planned to move quickly forward will not be possible within the current funding envelope, although by nature we remain optimistic about realizing the full proposed scope for GAGE over the life of the award.  We have planned to maintain the core competencies needed to support that goal as long as practicable.

Here are some places where you may see impact from the budget reductions:
We have eliminated approximately 14 FTE through vacancies and a reduction in force.  The field and data services staff reductions are likely to be the most visible to university investigators, so please help us by planning for the support that you need with lead time - both during the proposal process and when your awards are made.  Commensurate non-labor reductions have also been taken.
Until we can explore and develop alternative funding sources, the proposed real-time upgrades across PBO will be delayed.  We are committed to finding a way to support these in year two - both to sustain this global class facility, and to support the proliferation of science and broad impact uses, like early warning and GPS seismology.
The development of new data services and capabilities for UNAVCO's GPS, lidar, and SAR archives will be slower than planned, while we will continue to seek augmented funding from NASA, NSF, and others for project-specific enhancements.
Under board guidance to eliminate redundancies, we have defunded some important subawards - including the UCB work on strain meter data (which will continue to be available from IRIS) and the core funding to the SOPAC archive at UCSD (that has maintained access to data from key assets beyond UNAVCO's scope).   Other subawards were also reduced.
To the greatest extent possible, we have maintained the capacity to grow new capabilities with future funding as guided by the board.
We also have maintained recoverability as much as possible, with the hope that budget constraints will be alleviated or new funding sources identified.

On the upside, several other awards for community and facility projects have also been announced over recent weeks:
TLALOCNet - Development of a continuous GPS-MET array in Mexico for atmospheric, climatic, and seismotectonic research in the Americas
Collaborative Research: Geodesy curriculum for the 21st century--Innovative science for addressing societally critical issues
Acquisition of Next Generation Terrestrial Laser Scanning Systems for Community Earth and Polar Science Research	
GeoGONAF - An observatory to study the active deformation and strain transfer along the Izmit Bay-Marmara Sea segment of the North Anatolian fault	
Collaborative Research: Strain accumulation and release at the Kuril subduction zone from postseismic observations on the Kuril GPS Array in 2007-2014
SAVI: Building a framework between the EU and the USA to harmonize data products relevant to global research infrastructures in the environmental field
Subaward from IRIS:  EarthCube Building Blocks: Deploying Web Services Across Multiple Geoscience Domains
Subaward from UCSD:  GPS-seiesmology PBO testbed 
Thus we remain optimistic - largely because of your work that collectively makes up a geodesy-driven renaissance for the geosciences.   The extraordinary power of the geodetic toolbox will continue to serve as the foundation for UNAVCO community and facility success.  

There are some things that you can do to help us through the coming year, in addition to more lead time in planning to meet your project needs:

(1)  Please acknowledge PBO, EarthScope, UNAVCO, and our sponsors wherever possible - in talks, publications, and web pages.  We need better visibility of the benefits to citizens, sponsors, and stakeholders to make the community and facility case self-evident.

(2)  The recent staff reductions have triggered further staff departures - we will be posting vacancies, many of which are in data services.   Please send us your students whose accomplishments and passion support UNAVCO's mission.  

(3)  Join us in celebrating 30 years since the inception of UNAVCO at the 2014 UNAVCO Science Workshop, March 3 - 6, 2014 (at a Front Range location).   We are planning a bang-up program of scientific and technical sessions, a celebratory banquet, and an Ignite Session that will be open to anyone who will speak to UNAVCO's early days and how the organization was launched.

Thank you for your support and forbearance through this long renewal process!  We are in it for you, of course, and proud of the plan and proposal that we were able to shepherd on your behalf.   I look forward to getting down to business under the new award and streamlined management structures, and to seeing all of you during the new academic year!

Warm regards,

M. Meghan Miller
President, UNAVCO
6350 Nautilus Drive
Boulder, CO  80301

Voice:  303/381-7514
By cell:  720/320-0026
Fax:  303/381-7501
meghan at unavco.org

Please acknowledge UNAVCO sponsors and awards:

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