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Call for ACTRIS Central Facility validation

Background

A validation of the ACTRIS operation support and service provision is required for the implementation of ACTRIS as a Research Infrastructure. This validation considers all the relevant technical, financial, administrative, legal and strategic aspects of ACTRIS Central Facility (CF) activities (operation support to National Facilities, services to users, management of the CF, training, outreach etc.). This extensive work will start in 2019 and consist of multiple rounds and will last throughout the implementation of ACTRIS.

Considering the need of validating ACTRIS CF activities and related costs to prepare the 5-year financial plan for the ERIC Step 2 submission, Interim ACTRIS Council has requested the first round of validation to be performed in 2019 / early 2020, to be concluded before the ERIC Step 2 submission.

For more information on ACTRIS and its implementation, please see ACTRIS Stakeholders’ Handbook.

For a detailed description of the validation process on the first round, please see the Validation process description.  


The call

The first round of validation is intended to verify the reliability of the estimation of the operation costs of ACTRIS CFs, needed for the preparation of the 5-year financial plan of ACTRIS ERIC. This includes validation of the planned activities and the related costs. Even though most of the CFs are still in the preparatory or early implementation phase during the first round, this round of validation should be considered as a validation of the CF plans with the level of detail available, giving the best possible estimate for operational use. The ACTRIS Central Facilities concerned in this call are:

- ACTRIS Head Office (HO)
- ACTRIS Data Centre (DC)
- Centre for Aerosol In Situ Measurements (CAIS)
- Centre for Aerosol Remote Sensing (CARS)
- Centre for Cloud In Situ Measurements (CiS)
- Centre for Cloud Remote Sensing (CCRES)
- Centre for Reactive Trace Gases in-situ Measurements (CIGas)
- Centre for Reactive Trace Gases Remote Sensing (CREGARS)

 

The leader of the Central Facility consortium shall submit the CF information as .pdf to ACTRIS CF Validation Task Group (actris-cf-validation-task@helsinki.fi) by 30.9.2019 (by 22:00 Central European Time). The information shall be given on the ACTRIS Central Facility validation template. Confirmation of receiving the file will be sent by e-mail to the leader of the CF consortium.


Evaluation criteria

The CF activities and related costs shall be evaluated according to the main criteria listed below:

1.  Technical feasibility and adequacy of the procedures; The planned activities have to be technically feasible, reliable, and suited for purpose.
2.  Relevance and justification of planned resources; The resources needed for any planned activity need to be justified, realistic and comparable among different units offering the same or similar activities.
3.  Adequacy of the CF capacity; The CF capacity needs to be appropriately dimensioned with respect to the foreseen need for operation support and services to external users.
4.  Relevance of the activities to ACTRIS.


Evaluation process

Actors in the process

Central Facility consortium is the consortium approved by IAC for hosting an ACTRIS Central Facility. Each CF will be validated as whole, even though the information needed for the validation is asked at Unit and RPO level.
Central Facility Validation Task Group (VTG) facilitates the Central Facility selection process, but will not participate in the evaluation, nor in the applications. The group is mandated by Interim ACTRIS Council, and consists of individuals representing different aspects of ACTRIS PPP, and observers from Interim ACTRIS Council.
Central Facility Validation Advisory Group (VAG) consists of IAC delegates with a task of closer following and guiding the process. They will also make recommendations of actions to IAC based on the outcome of the validation.
External evaluators are independent experts external to ACTRIS Central Facility being validated. Each Central Facility will be evaluated by a group of experts in the field of that particular Central Facility. The names of the evaluators will not be published during the selection process.
Interim ACTRIS Council is a body consisting of ministry- and funding agency representatives from counties participating in ACTRIS. It is the highest decision making body in ACTRIS. In the Central Facility host validation process their role is to approve the outcome of the validation and to decide on potential future actions resulting from the validation.


The process

In this round of validation, each ACTRIS CF will be evaluated by a team of 3–4 external experts. This evaluation will assess each activity of the CFs, including an evaluation of adequacy of the technology and methodology used, the intended frequency of the activity, and the type and quantity of resources (person-working-days of different personnel profiles, equipment, consumables, etc.) needed for the activity, and the related costs. Therefore, the evaluators need deeper understanding of ACTRIS and expertise on the required technology and potential user base for the activities. This will require different technical evaluation teams for each CF.

The evaluation process will be performed in written form, including the following steps:

1.  The CF consortia provide information on the planned activities and related costs on a template prepared by the VTG.
2.  Evaluators evaluate the information provided against the listed reference documents, using a template provided by VTG.
3.  The CF consortia answer in written form to the questions and comments of the evaluators.
4.  Each evaluation team checks the answers by CF consortia to their comments and questions and judges in its final report whether each question has been properly answered and if something is still unclear.
5.  VAG checks all evaluation reports (both initial and final ones) and prepares a document containing recommendations to IAC.

The process or its schedule may be adjusted by an IAC or VAG decision if it is seen necessary.

The role of the VTG in the process is to organize, prepare and facilitate the process, to transfer materials between the CF consortia, the evaluators and the VAG, and to prepare and provide the related meeting materials for the IAC meetings. VTG does not participate in the evaluation and does not take position regarding the evaluation results.


Materials

The template and reference documents are available at documents for the CF validation


Important dates

Time

Activity

Actor

1.7. – 30.9.2019

CFs fill the information template

CF consortia

2.-25.10.2019

Technical and cost evaluation, providing feedback and questions

evaluation teams

13-15.11.2019

Evaluation reports and status of the process presented to IAC

IAC

18.11-6.12.2019

CFs provide written answers to the questions and comments

CF consortia

10.12.2019-10.1.2020

Evaluation teams give their written response to the answers and provide their final reports

Evaluation teams

13-22.1.2020

VTG prepares a final report on the validation process and outcomes to IAC, without taking position or making recommendations.

VAG prepares recommendations to IAC based on the reports by the evaluators.

VTG

VAG

13-14.2.2020

IAC decision on evaluation results and resulting actions

IAC



Questions?

In case of questions concerning Central Facility selection process, please contact Validation Task Group (actris-cf-validation-task@helsinki.fi).

Questions asked by CF consortia will be answered directly and also updated on a Questions and answers page that will be established once any questions have been received.