employed at select user facilities to ensure the involvement of users in planning the activities of the facilities and the scientific projects to be implemented there. From Egami’s perspective as a user, he felt that academics were deeply involved in the planning, construction, and operation of facilities and that university-laboratory collaborations are strong and will continue to grow. Nonetheless, participants in this session acknowledged that there are challenges to effective collaboration, some of which were discussed in the dialogue on incentives and structures, and some of which are more specific to the facility access requirements. Primary issues identified by participants included contractual issues, funding, and increasing concern about access to these facilities by foreign nationals. Each of these is discussed in more detail below.
Contractual issues were raised by a number of participants in the User Facilities breakout session as a barrier to collaboration. Although many of the challenges echoed the perspectives raised in the Incentives and Structures session, this group also raised the problem of negotiating specific access to user facilities on a case-by-case basis, where no universal standard or master agreement exists that would facilitate collaborative work. Administrative arrangements are on a case-by-case basis, and often inconsistent from institution to institution. The need was expressed by most participants for standardized MOUs (memorandum of understanding) between universities and user facilities. Intellectual property terms, in particular, varied across institutions, were very complex, and were viewed by many as one reason for the increased difficulty in creating collaborative arrangements (see discussion in Incentives and Structures).
In addition, the need for an agreement at the funding agency level was identified as important to successful interactions. Differences in agency guidelines for working with DOE user facilities lead to differential access for grantees funded by different sources. Egami referred to the agreement between DOE and NIH for use of beamlines, for example, which has provided positive support to lab-university collaboration. In NSF, on the other hand, there is a process that requires beamtime to be approved as a precondition for funding, leading to a “chicken-and-egg” problem.
Relative to planning the direction and course of the facility itself, some concern was raised that input from the scientific community is well established for large facilities but smaller facilities don’t benefit from the same level of interaction and support.
Additional concerns were raised relative to a perceived decline in the scientific orientation of the facilities, driven perhaps by the general reduc-