6. Message from the New Chairman of the Users Executive Committee
(A. E. Champagne)
The last time that I served as chair of the UEC was 1995-96 - before operation of the HRIBF started. It was a rather abstract experience. Now the science at the HRIBF has reached the stage where it's necessary to think about how the facility should evolve. This comes at a time when budget constraints have had a real impact on productivity throughout the community. I look forward to working with the HRIBF to address both the concerns of the present and plans for the future.
A number of HRIBF users have expressed concerns about the reliability of the run schedule at the HRIBF, which is shared by the facility management. This issue was examined by the UEC. We considered the current situation at Oak Ridge in comparison with our experience at other facilities, drafted a number of recommendations, and discussions were held with the HRIBF management. There is general agreement that budget compression has taken a toll, for example, it is not possible to maintain a 24/7 repair staff and only selected spare parts are available. Nonetheless, it was also agreed that steps could be taken within the current budget reality. One improvement that will be implemented shortly is the creation of a "RIB Specialist" position. This person will have the overall responsibility for the delivery of a beam to an experiment and will also serve as the facility contact person before and during an experiment. There have also been discussions related to operational efficiency. The general state of the budget will continue to be an impediment. However, we feel that the current situation will be improved in the near future.
As many of you know, there have been news rules and restrictions regarding computer usage. Robert Varner reports that the impact of the new DOE rules and the various laboratories' interpretations and adaptations are in a state of flux and their impact to the facilities, including HRIBF, is not yet clear. There is considerable uncertainty over how the research needs of the users can be accommodated, but it is clear that we will have to live with this new reality.