|Projects : NEES Consortium Development Project
The NEES Consortium Development Project was conducted under a Cooperative Agreement between the National Science Foundation and CUREE, the Consortium of Universities for Research in Earthquake Engineering.
The project began in October, 2001 and extended for three years to the end date of the developmental phase of the other NEES awards (System Integration and Equipment Site awards), which was September 30, 2004. The CUREE budget was approximately $2 million.
The Consortium Development Project had three primary missions:
- Establish a new non-profit corporation, NEES Consortium, Inc., and provide it with a healthy organizational start by providing legal and accounting services, running a membership recruitment campaign, conducting elections, supporting committees, and putting on its first two annual meetings.
- Develop the proposal to NSF for the operational (post-September 30, 2004) phase of the NEES Consortium. This massive proposal was nicknamed the MOM proposal: Management (of the NEES Consortium headquarters); Operation & Maintenance (of the 15 Equipment Site engineering laboratories and of the ongoing IT services).
- Facilitate earthquake engineering community input to the System Integration project to try to make that projects products responsive to community needs.
The place of the Consortium Development Project in the context of the overall NSF NEES program is explained in the History of NEES.
The NSF program officer for the project was Dr. Joy Pauschke. The project was organized with a management team at its center: the PI, Robert Reitherman, Executive Director of CUREE, and Co-PIs Stephen Mahin of the University of California at Berkeley, Robert Nigbor of the University of Southern California, Cherri Pancake of Oregon State University, and Sharon Wood of the University of Texas at Austin.
Each of these Co-PIs functioned as vice-presidents in charge of a major grouping of tasks: Collaboratory Vision, Consortium Organization, IT and Facilities, and Community Development, respectively. Management Consultant Andrew Neitlich advised the project and conducted interviews with samples of NSF program managers, System Integration and Equipment Site awardees, and others. Tom Finholt of the University of Michigan conducted surveys and advised on some IT aspects of collaboration. Working under the direction of the Co-PIs were several engineering professors or practicing engineers with designated tasks.
On the CUREE staff, several individuals provided the infrastructure to run the project website, handle communications and travel arrangements, provide accounting services, and assist the PI with NSF reporting requirements, notably Reed Helgens and Darryl Wong.
The full 15-member Executive Council of the project voted on key issues as consortium organization proceeded, and then became the set of Founding Directors of the new non-profit corporation and oversaw its first elections once a membership base had been established. See the Organization Chart for a listing of NEES Consortium Development project participants.
The Consortium Development Project had the responsibility to quickly launch an outreach effort to the broadly-defined earthquake engineering community and develop an interested subset of that community that saw benefits in becoming knowledgeable about and involved in NEES organizational and research activities. In addition, outreach and coordination efforts were necessary to communicate with individuals and organizations in other fields, especially information technology. A survey of a national sample of earthquake engineering individuals was conducted, focus groups with well-identified potential users of NEES such as practicing engineers were held. Presentations were given at several national and international engineering conferences. Broad-based email and web-based announcements and information were disseminated. These papers, presentations, and other documents are archived under Outreach Materials.
Workshops and Meetings
Distributed around the country, including Alaska, Hawaii, and Puerto Rico, were 21 Regional Workshops put on by the project to provide information and solicit input. Additionally, a national workshop was held. Well-defined alternatives to key questions were articulated in advance and sent to invitees, and at the national workshop, after plenary and breakout group discussion sessions, polling results were obtained (using instantly graphed data obtained from the audiences hand-held wireless polling devices). In-person or teleconference meetings of project Working Group meetings were held. These project Working Groups were dissolved or, following formal composition of a Board of Directors and a membership in the new NEES Consortium, Inc., were morphed into newly constituted Consortium standing committees. The Workshop and Meeting Materials are archived here.
Because of the emphasis in the NEES program on IT aspects, and because NSF assigned a responsibility to the Consortium Development Project to facilitate community-generated input on the design of the network portion of NEES, the network that came to be called NEESgrid by the System Integration awardee. Key IT documents generated by the Consortium Development are archived under IT Aspects.
The critically important proposal produced by the Consortium Development Project with the collaboration of the NEES Consortium, which by then (October 2003) was in business with an elected Board of Directors and fully constituted committees, was for the long-term operation of the NEES Consortium. This proposal scope included the subawards and scopes for the 15 Equipment Sites for operation and maintenance and a subaward for the operation of the IT products inherited by the Consortium from the System Integration project. Nicknamed MOM (Management, Operation & Maintenance), the proposal was large (800 pages, not counting appendices totaling another 600+ pages), and defined an annual budget of approximately $20 million.
Following steps necessary to tend the proposal to its successful conclusion included responding to an extensive audit by an independent contractor retained by NSF, responding to a number of mail-in NSF reviewer comments and evaluations, and appearing before a panel at NSF. Approval by the NSF Directors Review Board (the heads of the NSF Directorates) and by the National Science Board were following essential steps in the spring of 2004. Included within the scope of the Consortium Development Project was the development of other proposals on behalf of the NEES Consortium, including ones on an education and outreach strategic plan, an international workshop, and a simulation workshop, which were successful and resulted in awards from NSF to the NEES Consortium. These Proposals are archived here.
NSF required a variety of financial, task completion, and risk management reports. A quarterly cycle of Interim Reports and then a Final Report contained a variety of data useful to NSF, and GPRA (Government Performance and Results Act) reports were also required. Internal budgeting and task-tracking management activities also occurred. While the large mass of such reports generated in the project have served any purpose they may once have had and are of no lasting value, Project Management documents of more general relevance are archived here.