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ICHEC Users Council

Posted on 15 March 2007

Proposal for the establishment of an ICHEC Users Council

By J.-C. Desplat, 1st March 2007

Terms of references and code of conduct

We are proposing to appoint a Users Council, which will have the responsibility for providing formal feedback on the National HPC Service to the ICHEC executive committee. This Council will operate in parallel to the existing ICHEC Users Group Meetings (UGM), which will remain open to all existing ICHEC users.

The Council’s remit will consist in providing a feedback which will represent the views of the community of ICHEC users, rather than the views of the individual projects from which their members are drawn. Each member will be nominated on a personal capacity, and by becoming a member of the Council agrees to represent the views and defend the best interests of the user community at large, ahead of their own. Feedback will be restricted to operational matters, e.g., user support (training, helpdesk, documentation, etc.), scheduling policies (attributes of various queues), software provision, etc.

Although the ICHEC Users Council is an independent body, ICHEC will endeavour to facilitate their operation by assisting with logistical matters (e.g., availability of video-conferencing and AccessGrid points, co-ordination with UGM, web questionnaires, wiki, etc.) as well as providing summary reports of their operational constraints.


As an independent body, the Council is not accountable to ICHEC but instead will be accountable to the ICHEC user community by a mechanism still to be determined. Possible options include either:

  1. to organise a joint UGM / User Council meeting; and/or
  2. to open a subset of User Council meetings to all registered users; and/or
  3. to circulate the minutes of their meetings to the ICHEC users mailing list; and/or
  4. to discuss the service on a dedicated wiki.

These events should be organised on a six monthly schedule.



The Council will be composed of 15 members drawn from existing projects. The composition of the Council should be such that the interests of major projects and those of the emerging communities are adequately represented. A National Service should indeed take into consideration:

  1. the (cost-)effective use of their facilities; and
  2. the suitability of their environment to support high quality science; and
  3. the need to provide a user-friendly environment to develop the computational science community within the country.

It is important that these three requirements are borne in mind by the Council while suggesting possible modifications to the service. The Council will therefore include 15 members drawn from our three classes of applications and from the CosmoGrid project. We suggest the following distribution:

  • The CosmoGrid project co-ordinator;
  • All Class A PIs;
  • Three quarters of the remaining seats to Class B PIs;
  • One quarter of the remaining seats to Class C PIs.

So under the current context:

  • 1 seat for the CosmoGrid project co-ordinator (Conor Masterson);
  • 2 seats for Class A PIs (Jiri Vala and Stefano Sanvito);
  • 9 seats for Class B PIs (out of 22 unique PIs);
  • 3 seats for Class C PIs (out of 4 unique PIs).

Note that we will only consider “unique” PIs, e.g., PIs with more than one project will only be counted once. In case a PI has projects within different categories (e.g., 1 Class C and 1 Class B), one will only consider the one from the “higher” category (e.g., in the above example, Class B membership will be considered and Class C ignored).

ICHEC will organise a random draw to be held publicly over its next UGM. Users present at the meeting will be asked to draw the names from a bag. The persons selected as part of this process will then be contacted individually and asked whether they wish to become members of the Users Council. A PI may nominate one of his group members on the express condition that this person is also a member of the relevant project.

The Council will nominate its own chair by majority voting.

The duration of the membership is limited by the duration of the PIs’ projects. PIs whose project is no longer active will be asked to step down, and a random replacement will be selected from the same category (Class B or C). In the case of a Class A PI, the seat will be re-allocated either to a new Class B or Class C PI as appropriate. Should a seat be required for a new Class A PI, the Class B or Class C PI whose project is to expire the soonest will be asked to give away his/her seat to the new Class A PI.

We propose to hold such re-shuffles on a quarterly basis to avoid disruption to the process.

Mechanism for feedback

The Council is expected to meet on a quarterly basis. These meetings may be “in person”, or electronically via video conferencing or AccessGrid. We would suggest that the agenda should include the following items:

  • Training, e.g., request for new courses, feedback on previous courses, etc.
  • Helpdesk, e.g., quality control, suggestions for improvement
  • Documentation, e.g., request for new support documentation
  • Software provision (deprecated software, upgrade/purchase required, etc.)
  • Scheduling policies

The ICHEC Technical manager or another senior ICHEC member may attend the meeting if invited by the Council. Such invitations must be made by the Council directly following the previous meeting.

The Council will produce minutes of their meetings, including a set of recommendations for improvements to the service with adequate justification. The inclusion of positive feedback is also strongly encouraged. Note that individual recommendations must be endorsed by a quorum of 10 Council members (2/3 of the Council).

This document will then be sent to the ICHEC executive, which shall consider the feasibility and adequacy of the proposed changes. Should the ICHEC executive decide not to implement some of the recommendations, it is their responsibility to provide a written justification which the Users Council will be able to discuss at its next meeting.

All documents will be placed on-line in a password protected area accessible by all users of the National HPC service.

We are looking forward to receive your feedback on this proposal - feedback must be sent no later than Tuesday 27th March, through the ICHEC helpdesk

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