UCAR Management Committee Summary Notes

15 November 2012 Meeting Summary Center Green Auditorium

Wakimoto Moving to NSF:  Tom Bogdan expressed his appreciation for Roger Wakimoto’s significant contributions to NCAR and UCAR.  He also outlined some of the conflict of interest issues inherent in Roger’s appointment as the NSF Assistant Director of the Directorate for Geosciences (GEO). 

NCAR Day at NSF:  On behalf of Maura Hagan, Roger Wakimoto reported that science posters were well received and helped to educate NSF on the broad span of activities in which NCAR engages.

Indirect Rate Methodology:  Justin Young described NSF’s directive to its funded organizations of the required methodology for applying indirect rates to our grants.  This methodology is new to UCAR and presents a significant change and challenge.  As NSF’s FFRDC, this methodology must apply to all sponsors, regardless of funding source.  Beginning in FY14, UCAR’s “actual” indirect costs will be calculated at the end of a fiscal year.  If there is a variance to the “provisional” rate established at the beginning of the FY, UCAR must correct the under- or over-recovery—there will be no carry over.  A variance requires reimbursement to our sponsors if the rate is lower than projected (over-recovery), or their payment to UCAR of the rate difference in the case of a higher final indirect rate (under-recovery).  Extraordinary diligence will be necessary to manage our cost pools for consistency of the provisional versus final indirect rate for a fiscal year.  Some indirect pools are easier to estimate and mange than others, e.g. the benefits pool can be more unpredictable. 

UCAR Finance and Administration is working closely with NCAR’s Budget and Planning and UCP’s administration to anticipate and respond to changes needed.  Budget and Finance, Contracts, and IT are dedicating significant person hours to modify systems and processes in order to accommodate these new requirements.  The Rate Methodology Change Project Team will be visiting with many groups, particularly administrators and PIs, to discuss the new rate methodology, assess programmatic impacts, and understand the needs of these groups.

UMC Recommendations to the President Council (PC):  The UMC discussed the process for evaluating and forwarding Working Group and other recommendations to the PC.  For the foreseeable future individuals will indicate through a show of hands “yes”, “no” or “no opinion.”  If the majority vote is “yes”, the UMC recommendation will be forward to the PC.  Tom Bogdan committed that the PC will act on each recommendation forwarded to them and report to the UMC with their response.  Other recommendations can go to the PC as informational items or may be reviewed by the PC at their discretion. 

Working Group Reports:  Tom Bogdan commended the Working Groups (WGs) for their extraordinary efforts in researching their topics and developing recommendations to address their findings.  The groups are in different stages. The UCAR Branding and University Relations groups are working with a vendor to develop a comprehensive survey to understand stakeholder perceptions and needs.  Staff have provided over 7,000 names for participation in the survey.  A second professional survey will be conducted by the Workforce group to assess the climate of UCAR staff.  The three WGs will study their survey results to develop recommendations to the UMC.  The Administrative Efficiency group will report on findings and progress at the January 2014 UMC meeting. 

Two groups completed their work and provided 13 recommendations:

  • NCAR/NSF Relationships:  Jeff Reaves said that with new leadership in both organizations there has been much more interaction at those levels.  Therefore, the WG focused on interactions at NCAR’s mid-manager level staff and their counterparts at the NSF, specifically program managers and administrators of both organizations.  The following seven recommendations for facilitating and enhancing two-way communication and collaboration were presented and approved by the UMC for forwarding to the PC.1.  Have NSF program managers meet with UMC/NDC periodically to outline upcoming NSF initiatives, strategic directions, and specific ways that NCAR can best fulfill its role as an NSF FFRDC.2.  NSF leadership to spend a day or two "in the trenches" at NCAR and vice versa.  The purpose would be to share successes and challenges, and focus on alignment of priorities, activities, and new ideas.3.  Regular meetings with NSF and UCAR "administrative" staff to address upcoming changes, answer questions, and address concerns.4.  Form a small study group to list and prioritize the administrative requirements placed on us by the NSF CA.5.  Insure that the regular NCAR Day at NSF includes participation of both upper and mid-level managers from NSF as well as NCAR.6.  At the next NCAR/NSF retreat, explore what it means to be an FFRDC, and brainstorm what opportunities exist for both NSF and NCAR to make better use of the FFRDC relationship to further the mission of NSF.7.  Allow UCAR/NCAR more flexibility with respect to deadlines and procedures in cases of last minute funding opportunities (e.g., year-end allocations), especially if they are guaranteed.
  • Internal Relationships:  Raj Pandya reported their WG focus on the UCAR structure of UCP and NCAR.  They explored the key differences between the two entities and whether an investigation of an alternative structure would be justified.  Six recommendations were approved by the UMC. 1.  Look at internal communication mechanisms to determine their effectiveness for flowing down information from discussions with NSF; prioritize and share issues and topics that senior management is pursuing with AGS; and ensure communication flows both ways.2.  Identify key personnel on both sides to be points of contact on certain topics or issues; reestablish quarterly meetings with NSF/UCAR-NCAR program and administrative personnel.3.  UCAR should maintain its current structure with NCAR and UCP as separate entities.4.  Programs should be allowed to transfer between NCAR and UCP when appropriate, and UCAR should explore joint appointments between NCAR and UCP.5.  UCAR leaders should develop guidelines and criteria for deciding on the organizational home for new activities, including the appropriate response to opportunities from which NCAR is excluded.6.  UCAR leadership, at all levels, should explore ways to better communicate the rationales for differences between NCAR and UCP.

A 7th recommendation relative to larger “us vs. them” themes will be retooled by the WG and presented at the January 2014 UMC meeting:

-- UCAR should improve its organizational capacity to identify, discuss, and, when necessary, change prevalent mental models. 

The UMC briefly discussed its current structure and purpose, believing it is working well.  It was agreed that further discussion is merited.

UMC Adjourned.

Will this event be webcast to the public by NCAR|UCAR?: 
Announcement Timing: 
December 31, 2012 to January 18, 2013