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Outcomes Of The 19th SKA Board Meeting

The Directors of SKA Organisation held a meeting at SKA Headquarters in Jodrell Bank, United Kingdom on the 19th and 20th of November for the 19th meeting of the SKA Board of Directors.

Notes from the Chair of the SKA Board, 19th Meeting of the Board of Directors of SKA Organisation


19th Meeting of the Board of Directors of SKA Organisation at SKA Headquarters.


Professor Giovanni Bignami (Chair of the SKA Board) welcomed directors and invited guests from ASTRON (Netherlands), CNRS (France), Department of Industry, Innovation and Science (Australia), European Southern Observatory, Fundação para a Ciência e a Tecnologia (Portugal), Instituto Nazionale di Astrofisica (Italy), Ministry of Economy and Competitiveness (Spain), Max Planck Institute for Radio Astronomy (Germany), University of Malta, SKA China Office, SKA South Africa, Science and Technology Facilities Council (UK), and University of Cambridge (UK),

It was noted that since the last SKA Board meeting on 22-23 July 2015, the following directors have stepped down: Dr. Luigina Feretti (Italy). The following directors have been appointed: Mr Arun Srivastava (India) and Dr. Grazia Umana (Italy). Prof. Yashwant Gupta stepped down as a voting director and was appointed as science director for India following Mr. Arun Srivastava’s appointment.

Director-General’s Report

Professor Philip Diamond (Director-General, SKA Organisation) presented an update since the last SKA Board meeting which included an update on interactions with potential new member countries since the last meeting of the SKA Board.

The SKA Board discussed equality, diversity and inclusion issues, such as the project-wide SKA Code of Conduct which has been reviewed by the SKA Board’s Executive Committee. A final version of the SKA Code of Conduct will be approved by the SKA Board at its next meeting to be held on 4-6 April 2016.

The SKA Board noted Professor Diamond’s report on the 3rd SKA All-hands Engineering Meeting held in Penticton, Canada, 9-13 November 2015, which had provided overview of the SKA design activities across the SKA Project and opportunities for inter-consortium meetings and interactions.

The SKA Board approved the revised Policy on the Provision of Power for SKA-1 as a guidelines for development of a detailed power policy in relation to the procurement policy currently being developed.

Finance Committee

Dr. Colin Vincent (Chair of the SKA Finance Committee) presented the Finance Committee’s Report of its third meeting held on 13 October 2015. The SKA Board noted the Finance Committee Report.

Professor Diamond presented the SKA Organisation Budget for 2016 and the indicative budget for 2017. Two funding scenarios for 2016 were presented to the SKA Board. The Finance Committee recommended that the SKA Board approve the adoption of a cost-constrained budget for 2016. The SKA Board approved the cost-constrained budget for 2016 and noted the proposed indicative budget for 2017. It was agreed that, if new member funding contributions generate additional income of £1.2M or more, the Director-General shall return to the SKA Board for approval of a budget aligned to the optimum funding scenario of the SKA Organisation Business Plan, as approved by the SKA Members in March 2015.

The SKA Board discussed the SKA Organisation Finance Policies and Regulations. The SKA Board approved the Financial Policies. The Finance Regulations were approved with minor amendments.

Science Director’s Report

Dr Robert Braun (Director of Science, SKA Organisation) presented his Science Director’s Report which included updates on the Key Science Projects, the SKA Science Book and the Level 0 Science Requirements.

The SKA Board discussed the progress on developing the Key Science Project programme following the Key Science Project Workshop held in Stockholm, Sweden on 24-27 August 2015. The workshop had explored the development of potential collaborations and generic surveys which could maximise commensal science.

The SKA Board also discussed the Level 0 Science Requirements, which had been updated to incorporate the comments of the SKA Science and Engineering Advisory Committee (SEAC) and the Science Working Groups. The Level 0 Science Requirements will be published and any future changes will be subject to the Engineering Change Control process.

Engineering Report

Mr Alistair McPherson (Head of Project and Deputy Director-General, SKA Organisation) presented the Engineering Report on design and development in the pre-construction phase of the SKA Project, which included an update on the overall progress of the project and the 11 element design consortia.

The SKA Board noted the progress made by the Project over the past quarter on many fronts: design activities, systems activities, developing processes and the development of the IGO. It noted that, although great progress has been made, there is considerable pressure on the design consortia and the SKA Office in providing resource to meet the schedule. The SKA Board further noted the efforts made in improving communication within this project distributed around the globe. The SKA Board expressed its continued support to these initiatives whilst urging the design consortia and the SKA Office to ensure that design documents and associated material is baselined in a timely manner; this is essential to ensure the Project can proceed efficiently into the detailed design phase.

Risk Register

The SKA Board noted the risk report presented by Mr McPherson and acknowledged that the mitigation strategies presented for the corporate risks are sufficient.

Lessons Learned from PDR

Mr McPherson presented the lessons learned from the Preliminary Design Review Process. It was noted that the process employed by the SKA Organisation during pre-construction has followed a classical process, well established and demonstrated by other multi-national research infrastructure projects. Both the element design consortia and the SKA Office had provided feedback to the review. The SKA Board noted the lessons learned from the Preliminary Design Review Process.

SKA Science and Engineering Advisory Committee (SEAC) Report

Professor Richard Hills (Chair of the SKA SEAC) presented the SEAC report from its videoconference held on 12 November 2015. It was noted that the SEAC had not received any specific charges from the SKA Board or the SKA Office before its videoconference. Mr McPherson presented the SKA Office response to the SEAC report. The SKA Board noted the SEAC Report and the SKA Office response.

The SKA Board approved the revised SEAC Terms of Reference. It was noted that the current term of the SEAC Chair and the majority of the SEAC Members will come to an end in June 2016. It was noted that membership termination dates may need to be staggered to avoid disruption to the work of the SEAC. Nominations for SEAC membership will be presented to the Board for approval at its meeting.

SKA-1 Baseline Design v2

Mr McPherson presented the SKA-1 Baseline Design v2 description, which describes the overall structure of SKA-1, the detail of SKA-MID and SKA-LOW and notes the inclusion of MeerKAT into the SKA-1 Array.

The SKA Board noted the content of the SKA-1 Baseline Design v2 document as a definition of the description of the SKA-1 Baseline Design v2. Following the SKA-1 System Design Review scheduled to take place in the first quarter of 2016, and updated SKA-1 Baseline Design v2 will be presented to the SKA Board for approval of the overall design of SKA-1 at the next SKA Board meeting to be held in April 2016.

Revised AIP Framework

Mr McPherson presented the revised Advanced Instrumentation Programme framework, which has been renamed the SKA Observatory Development Programme. The SKA Board noted the proposed SKA Observatory Development Programme policy and agreed that the policy should be updated following the conclusion of the Intergovernmental Organisation (IGO) negotiation process to establish the SKA Observatory, and presented to the SKA Board for approval.

Operations Planning Update

Professor Gary Davis (Director of Operations Planning, SKA Organisation) reported on progress in operations planning since the previous SKA Board meeting held in July 2015. The SKA Board noted his report.

The SKA Board discussed the proposed organisation structure which was developed following feedback provided by the SKA Board at the previous SKA Board meeting. The SKA Board agreed that the SKA Office will work with the IGO Working Group on Operations and Access on the organisation structure.

Report on the first SKA IGO Negotiation Meeting

Professor Bignami provide a report on the 1st Intergovernmental Organisation Negotiation meeting held in Rome, Italy on 14-16 October 2015. During the meeting four working groups were set up:

  • Procurement and Intellectual Property Rights Working Group
  • Operations and Access Working Group
  • Financial Protocol Working Group
  • Privileges and Immunities Working Group

The SKA Board noted the report and the progress of the working groups.

StratCom Report

Dr Simon Berry (Director of Policy Development, SKA Organisation) presented the report of StratCom’s first meeting with revised membership and terms of reference, which was held on 18 November 2015. The SKA Board discussed the StratCom remit and working plan following the first meeting of the IGO negotiation process. It was noted that StratCom’s Terms of Reference did not require further revision, but the Committee will review its workplan for 2016 at its next meeting. The workplan will be presented to the SKA Board for approval at its next meeting.

Procurement Policy Discussion

Dr Berry presented the draft procurement policy which had been developed by a sub-group of StratCom. The SKA Board noted the draft procurement policy, which will be used by the IGO working group on Procurement and Intellectual Property as a basis for its work.

Status of the Headquarters and Site Hosting Agreements

Dr Berry presented a report on the status of the Headquarters and Site Hosting Agreements. The SKA Board noted this report and the progress with the development of a draft Headquarters Hosting Agreement.

Status of the Headquarters Design and Construction

Mr Colin Greenwood (Head of Admin & Legal, SKA Organisation) and Professor Stephen Watts (Head of School of Physics and Astronomy, University of Manchester) provided an update on the status of the design and construction of the global SKA Headquarters at Jodrell Bank.

Site Reports

The SKA Board noted site reports from Australia and South Africa.

Future SKA Board Meetings

The SKA Board agreed the following schedule of meetings for 2016:


SKA-BD-20 Meeting: 4-6 April 2016 (Pune, India)

SKA-BD-21 Meeting: 13-14 July 2016 (SKA HQ, Jodrell Bank Observatory)

SKA-BD-22 Meeting: 24-25 November 2016 (SKA HQ, Jodrell Bank Observatory)


The SKA Board noted the revised Board Calendar and forward workplan for the Board for 2016.


Giovanni Bignami

Chair, Board of Directors

SKA Organisation

18 December 2015

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