ARCHIVED - Evaluation of the International Telescope Agreements Program

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Executive Summary

The National Research Council Act mandates NRC with the operation and administration of any astronomical observatories established or maintained by the Government of Canada. Footnote 1 This mandate is carried out by NRC-HIA, which, in addition to operating Canada’s two domestic observatories, Footnote 2 manages Canada’s participation in four major ground-based international observatories:

  • the Canada-France-Hawaii Telescope (CFHT)
  • the James Clerk Maxwell Telescope (JCMT)
  • the twin Gemini Telescopes
  • the Atacama Large Millimetre Array (ALMA)

This report presents the results of the 2011 evaluation of the International Telescope Agreements Program.  The evaluation was led by an independent evaluation team within NRC’s Office of Audit and Evaluation. The evaluation period covers 2005-2006 to 2010-2011 inclusive. The study was designed to address the core evaluation issues required by the Treasury Board Policy on Evaluation (2009) of relevance (i.e., continued need for program, alignment with government priorities and roles) and performance (i.e., achievement of intended outcomes, efficiency and economy).

The methodology developed for this evaluation made use of multiple lines of evidence to ensure corroboration and triangulation of collected data. The specific methods used in the study include a document review, a review of administrative and performance data, key informant interviews, and a survey of the telescope user community.

Findings - Relevance

The Canadian astronomy community requires access to international observatories in order to perform internationally competitive research, a need which continues to be addressed by the International Telescope Agreements Program. The Agreements appear to be consistent with the priorities and recommendations of the Long Range Plan for Astronomy and Astrophysics, which helps to ensure that the investments made adequately reflect the needs of the Canadian astronomy community. Further, the subscription rates to the International Telescopes that are part of the Program as well as the access provided to Canadian astronomers to other international telescopes demonstrate the continued need for access to these facilities. It is expected that access to international telescopes will continue to be needed in Canada, based on the increasing size of the Canadian astronomy community.

  • Recommendation 1: To address the evolving needs of the astronomical community, NRC-HIA should investigate the feasibility of modifying the International Telescope Agreements Terms and Conditions to permit flexibility in the kind of financial support provided to international telescopes.
  • Management Response and Proposed Actions: Agreed. NRC-HIA is working with the VPO, Finance and Strategic & Operational Planning to revise the Ts and Cs for flexibility. Appropriate consultations will be held with Industry Canada and TBS to ensure the Ts and Cs conform to GoC policies and procedures.

The alignment of the Program with the priorities of the federal government was examined for recent years. While Canada’s participation in the International Telescope Agreements has not been explicitly referenced as a federal government priority in recent years (either through the Speech from the Throne or in budget documents), the Program was found to be aligned with the basic tenets of the federal government’s Science and Technology Policy, Mobilizing Science and Technology to Canada’s Advantage (2007).

Although the Program was not found to be clearly aligned with the previous NRC strategy, Science at Work for Canada, its alignment with NRC’s current strategy is more apparent. The previous strategy refers to an overarching objective of strengthening the Canadian innovation system by supporting major science and technology infrastructure in areas such as astronomy.   Under NRC’s new strategic direction, the International Telescope Agreements fall squarely within the “Scientific Infrastructure” business line, which aims to be more client-focused in the context of maximizing benefits from specialized scientific infrastructure.

The role that NRC-HIA plays in administering the International Telescope Agreements is consistent with the role ascribed in the NRC Act, which clearly states that the Council may “operate and administer any astronomical observatories established or maintained by the Government of Canada.” Further, NRC-HIA is widely viewed as the most appropriate delivery agent for the International Telescope Agreements.  While key informants have identified some alternative delivery agents for the Program, these were not deemed more appropriate than NRC-HIA. A key finding stemming from the study relates to the perception of stakeholders of a lack of clarity around the roles and coordination of participants in astronomy, which is thought to increase the complexity of the environment within which the International Telescope Agreements Program is delivered.

Findings – Achievement of Intended Outcomes

Access to the international telescopes has afforded Canadian astronomers the opportunity to generate new knowledge while contributing to the training of highly qualified personnel (HQP). Publications resulting from the use of the international telescopes suggest that not only are Canadian astronomers generating new knowledge, they are also effectively disseminating it to the broader international astronomical community.   

In addition to the scientific benefits accrued to Canada as a result of its participation in the International Telescope Agreements, the Program has enabled Canadian private-sector firms to contribute to the development of telescope instrumentation and ultimately enhance their own technological capabilities.  More specifically, Canada’s participation in the Agreements benefited Canadian firms in two ways: 1) providing the opportunity to benefit directly from bidding on contracts and, 2) creating the conditions that enabled firms to capture larger opportunities that were unrelated to the International Agreements. With the construction and ongoing operation requirements of CFHT, JCMT, Gemini, and ALMA, Canadian companies continue to have the opportunity to bid on contracts stemming from these agreements. This resulted in the strengthening of their industrial research capacity through various means, particularly, with NRC-HIA providing them with access to specialized equipment and training.

Finally, in addition to earning an international reputation in both astronomical discoveries and development of sought-after instruments, a major indicator of Canada’s standing among the world’s leaders in astronomy is the leadership position held in the planning of major new facilities (e.g., JWST, TMT, SKA) as well as the awards received by Canadian astronomers using the telescopes.

Findings – Economy and Efficiency 

The Program is managed in an economical manner. This can be seen through a decrease of the costs associated with the administration of the International Telescope Agreements by NRC-HIA. These costs were reduced over the evaluation period due to process and procedure modifications.  The in-kind contributions of the astronomy community (through the donated time by TAC members and external referees) have further contributed to the program’s overall economy.

Given that time at NRC-HIA is not tracked against the International Telescope Agreements, the analysis of costs associated with the administration of the program cannot be assessed historically (i.e., trend analysis) as was originally anticipated.

  • Recommendation 2: The International Telescope Agreements Program is fully integrated within the administrative structure of NRC-HIA. This arrangement represents an economical use of resources and should be maintained in the future. It is recommended that future evaluations of NRC-HIA include the International Telescope Agreements and assess the relevance and performance of both components within the same study.
  • Management Response and Proposed Actions: Agreed. Given that most NRC-HIA activities are in support of the International Telescope Agreements, a concerted evaluation every five years will be more efficient. Aligning all evaluation elements together will provide streamlining as well as more effectively addressing the larger context in which NRC-HIA operates.

The Program was also found to be administered in an efficient manner. Using the high level of client satisfaction as a proxy indicator of efficiency, users of the facilities were found to be generally satisfied with the manner in which NRC-HIA has administered access to the telescopes.  Key external factors contributing to the cost-effectiveness of the Program included a sense of commitment to planning as well as strong relationships among the stakeholders. Challenges were found to include uncertainty from the eventual withdrawal of partner countries, foreign exchange rate fluctuations, and the CADC’s need for specialized high-speed Internet.

  • Recommendation 3: NRC-HIA should investigate the potential cost and feasibility of providing specialized high-speed internet access to the CADC, to keep up with increasing demands and to prepare for the large volume of data expected from ALMA in future years.

  • Management Response and Proposed Actions: Agreed. CADC is part of a global network of data centres providing service to researchers from Canada and abroad. As of summer 2011, CADC is no longer the sole responsibility of NRC – Shared Services Canada (SSC) is now a key partner for the Centre as well as Compute Canada. NRC will work with these partners to ensure required upgrades to CADC’s capability based on a plan addressing the ongoing needs of CADC clients.

Conclusion

Overall, the findings of the evaluation of the International Telescope Agreements Program show that the Program represents good value-for-money for NRC and for Canada.  Three recommendations were derived from the evidence collected; their implementation will likely yield a greater degree of effectiveness and efficiency in the future.

1.0 Introduction

The National Research Council Act mandates NRC with the operation and administration of any astronomical observatories established or maintained by the Government of Canada. Footnote 3 This mandate is carried out by NRC-HIA, which, in addition to operating Canada’s two domestic observatories, Footnote 4 manages Canada’s participation in four major ground-based international observatories:

  • the Canada-France-Hawaii Telescope (CFHT);
  • the James Clerk Maxwell Telescope (JCMT);
  • the twin Gemini Telescopes; and
  • the Atacama Large Millimetre Array (ALMA).

This report presents the results of an evaluation of the NRC International Telescope Agreements Program. The study considered both the investments made through the Program and the activities undertaken by NRC in support of these investments to be the object of evaluation.

The study was led by an independent evaluation team from the NRC Office of Audit and Evaluation. The work of the evaluation team was supported by Methodological and Subject Matter Experts (MSEs) who provided advice related to the evaluation framework, approach, instruments, interpretation of findings and recommendations. These experts did not act in a decision-making fashion, but rather played an advisory role in ensuring a high-quality and useful evaluation product.

Following the evaluation overview presented below, Section 2.0 of this report provides a profile of the program. Sections 3.0 through 5.0 present the evaluation study’s findings organized by broad evaluation question (relevance, performance), and Section 6.0 presents the general conclusions and recommendations resulting from the study. Section 7.0 of the report lays out management’s response to these recommendations and the actions that will be taken as a result of the evaluation.

1.1 Evaluation Overview

An evaluation of the NRC International Telescope Agreements was undertaken in fiscal year 2011-12. The evaluation assesses the value-for-money of the program, including relevance and performance (which includes effectiveness in achieving intended outcomes as well as efficiency and economy). It covers the period 2005-2006 to 2010-2011 inclusive.

1.1.1 Evaluation Rationale

The primary reasons for conducting an evaluation of the International Telescope Agreements Program were two-fold:

  • Decision-making support: The evaluation aims to provide credible, timely and neutral information on the value-for-money of the International Telescope Agreements, in support of program management needs, including future decision-making around the program; and
  • Accountability: The evaluation responds to the requirement that all ongoing programs of grants and contributions be evaluated every five years (as per section 42.1 of the Financial Administration Act).

1.1.2 Evaluation Design, Methodology, Limitations and Challenges

The scope of the evaluation focuses on the investments made through the International Telescope Agreements and the activities undertaken by NRC in support of these investments (comprising the “Program”). Reference made to the International Telescope Agreements refers only to Canada’s financial contribution, while reference to the International Telescope Agreements Program refers to the suite of activities that NRC-HIA undertakes in administering the Agreements.

  • Internal and external document review;
  • Administrative and performance data review;
  • Key informant interviews (internal interviewees: n = 8 ; external interviewees n = 25); and
  • Web survey of the telescope user community (n = 149)

While a more detailed description of the study methodology, limitations and challenges is provided in Appendix B, one limitation pertaining to the survey bears highlighting here. Specifically, an accurate estimate of both survey response rate and sample representativeness could not be calculated due to the sampling strategy that had to be used resulting from factors beyond the control of the evaluation team, and due to the absence of an estimate of the Canadian observational ground-based astronomer population. While this affects the degree to which confidence can be placed on the survey findings, the use of mixed methods and the presence of corroborating evidence from other lines of evidence helped to mitigate the uncertainty in the reliability and validity of the survey findings.

2.0 Program Profile

Within NRC, the Herzberg Institute for Astrophysics manages Canada’s participation in four international ground-based facilities - CFHT, JCMT, Gemini, and ALMA. Adherence to these international observatories is paid for through transfer payments, in accordance with the Terms and Conditions for the International Telescope Agreements. International cooperation in the construction, operation, and utilization of such facilities has become the norm in the global astronomy community, given how much of the required infrastructure is of a scale and expense that is out of the reach of any one nation. Footnote 5 An overview of the four telescopes currently supported by Canada is provided in Appendix C.

2.1 Program Objectives

The overall objectives of Canada’s participation in the International Telescope Agreements are to:

  • increase Canada’s access to and beneficial sharing of world-class facilities and expertise in astrophysics;
  • increase scientific collaboration among Canada and partner countries;
  • increase training opportunities for Canadian scientists and researchers;
  • increase opportunities for Canadian researchers and firms to develop instrumentation; and
  • increase Canada’s knowledge and understanding of the universe by the observation and study of the heavenly bodies.

The logic model included in Appendix D provides an overview of how investments made and activities undertaken feed into the achievement of immediate, intermediate, and ultimate outcomes. Footnote 6

2.2 Program Stakeholders/Beneficiaries

The management and operations of Canada’s four international telescopes is supported by NRC, in partnership with other international bodies:

  • CFHT partners are France and Hawaii;
  • JCMT partners are the U.K. and the Netherlands;
  • Gemini partners are the United States, the United Kingdom, Australia, Argentina, and Brazil, in cooperation with the Republic of Chile and the State of Hawaii; and
  • ALMA partners are Europe (through the European Southern Observatory, or ESO, an intergovernmental research organization made up of 15 member countries Footnote 7), North America (the U.S. and Canada) and East Asia (Japan and Taiwan), in cooperation with the Republic of Chile.

Canadian stakeholders and beneficiaries for the telescopes include Canadian universities and the Association of Canadian Universities for Research in Astronomy (ACURA), Footnote 8 as well as the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council (NSERC), which provides funding for university-based astronomy research. Also included are all Canadian scientists and researchers who utilize the facilities and access data produced by the facilities which are available, for example, through the Canadian Astronomy Data Centre (CADC). Program beneficiaries include Canadian firms who are contracted to develop instrumentation or who utilize research results to commercialize new products / processes based on research.

2.3 Administration of the International Telescope Agreements Program

NRC-HIA, in partnership with other international bodies, provides financial and in-kind contributions that support the management and operations of the telescopes and their related facilities. NRC-HIA also participates in the oversight and direction of the facilities and their research capabilities. For all telescopes, partners are allocated a percentage of viewing time that is relative to their level of participation in the agreements; and so, as part of its role, NRC-HIA ensures that the Canadian astronomy and astrophysics community is provided merit-based access to the telescopes. Footnote 9 NRC-HIA also supports the infrastructure of the international facilities by providing scientific and engineering staff working together with industry partners to develop advanced instrumentation and software for the telescopes.

Finally, NRC-HIA provides in-house support to the user community through numerous services extending from administering the time allocation process for Canadian researchers through to the delivery of science ready data to the research community (through its CADC). Further details on the activities undertaken by NRC-HIA in administrating the International Telescope Agreements Program are provided in the Program logic model in Appendix D.

2.4 Program Resources

Over the past five years, the average annual grant and contribution (G&C) expenditures for the International Telescope Agreements were $10.4M. These contributions vary from year to year, mainly because of exchange rate fluctuations, although some variability for Gemini is also due to additional contributions for telescope instrumentation. Footnote 10 Table 1 (below) presents the annual G&C expenditures, by telescope.

Table 1: International Telescope Agreements G&C Expenditures ($M)
Telescope 2005-06 2006-07 2007-08 2008-09 2009-10 2010-11 Total
ALMA n/a not applicable n/a not applicable n/a not applicable $0.502 $0.672 $0.842 $2.016
CFHT $3.406 $3.291 $3.189 $3.187 $3.563 $3.297 $19.933
JCMT $0.886 $0.924 $0.631 $0.761 $0.810 $0.708 $4.720
Gemini $5.133 $8.354 $5.368 $6.069 $5.635 $5.491 $36.050
Total $9.425 $12.569 $9.188 $10.519 $10.680 $10.339 $62.720

Over the past decade, NRC-HIA has faced funding pressures related to its International Telescope Agreements, due to unchanging reference levels for the program, despite rising costs associated with changes in partnerships and operating costs, as well as currency fluctuations and inflation. Between 1999-2000 and 2008-09, shortfalls in funding Canada’s International Telescope Agreements were covered through internal NRC re-allocations. As of 2005-06-, NRC has reinvested $10M in NRC-HIA’s operating budget to alleviate some financial pressures related to astronomy, including the shortfall related to the International Telescope Agreements. Table 2, below, provides the proportion of the $10M invested by NRC in NRC-HIA used to cover shortfalls in funding for the International Telescope Agreements.

Table 2: International Telescope Agreements G&C Expenditures, by Source of Funding ($M)
2005-06 2006-07 2007-08 2008-09 2009-10 2010-11 Total
A-Base allocations $5.488 $5.488 $5.488 $5.488 $5.488 $5.488 $32.928
Internal re-allocations $3.937 $7.081 $3.700 $5.031 $0 $0 $19.749
Portion of NRC reinvestment in
Telescope Agreements Footnote 11)
$0 $0 $0 $0 $5.192 $4.851 $10.043
Total $9.425 $12.569 $9.188 $10.519 $10.680 $10.339 $62.720

Between 2002-03 and 2007-08, NRC-HIA received new government funding for activities related to the ground-based elements of the Long-Range Plan (LRP; $35.9M over five years starting in 2002-03 and an additional $20M over five years starting in 2003-04; refer to Section 3.1.5 for more information on the LRP), which went in part to supporting Canada’s participation in the construction of ALMA. Footnote 12

Based on figures for 2005-06 through 2010-11, direct contributions to offshore facilities represent approximately thirty per cent of NRC-HIA’s total budget (which was $32.6M for 2010-11). In addition to direct contributions to offshore facilities, a proportion of NRC-HIA salaries and operating budget goes toward activities undertaken in support of the International Telescope Agreements Program. The cost associated with administering the International Telescope Agreements Program is approximately $2.9M per year, or roughly 12% of NRC-HIA’s overall operating budget (excluding the G&C dollars). The proportion of time, and estimated salary and operational costs associated with NRC-HIA activities in the administration of the International Telescope Agreements Program is presented in Appendix E). As is discussed in subsequent sections, additional in-kind contributions are made by the Canadian astronomy community to the operation of the International Telescope Agreements Program through their volunteered time on the Time Allocation Committee (TAC). Travel and hospitality related expenses for the TAC members are covered through NRC-HIA’s operating budget and are included in the 12% of NRC-HIA’s operating budget.

3.0 Findings: Relevance

The relevance of the International Telescope Agreements was examined through three evaluation issues: the continued need for the program (section 3.1); its alignment with the priorities of the federal government (section 3.2); and its alignment with the roles and responsibilities of the federal government and of NRC (section 3.3).

3.1 Continued Need for the Program

Does the International Telescope Agreements Program continue to address a demonstrable need?

3.1.1 Scientific Need of the Canadian Astronomy Community

Key Finding 1:

The Canadian astronomy community requires access to international observatories in order to perform internationally competitive research, a need which continues to be addressed by the International Telescope Agreements Program.

As a result of Canada’s geographic location, there is currently no national site suitable on which to build the observatories required to conduct ground-based astronomy on a competitive scale. This fact, coupled with the scale and expense associated with the construction, maintenance and operation of major infrastructure, has led Canada to participate in international telescope agreements in order to provide Canadian researchers with access to world class astronomical facilities.

According to the 2010 Long Range Plan for Canadian Astronomy (LRP2010), advances in observational astronomy depend critically on access to the best and newest facilities. Footnote 13 Key informants from the astronomical community noted that, in order to perform internationally competitive research, Canadian astronomers, both observers and theoreticians (who rely on observational data to test the validity of their models) require access to such facilities. In fact, over 80% of the astronomy community members surveyed as part of the evaluation agreed or strongly agreed that access to one of Canada’s international telescopes is critical in meeting their research needs.

In the absence of Canada’s participation in the International Telescope Agreements, 50% of the Principal Investigators (PIs) surveyed indicated that their research project would not have proceeded at all, while an additional 46% felt that there would have been some impact on their research project. Footnote 14 The types of impacts reported by respondents included: delays in the research project; reduced scope of the research project; re-direction / re-orientation of the research project; and inability to obtain time on a telescope for the research project. Without continued access to next-generation facilities the Canadian astronomy community risks losing its capacity to push the frontiers of knowledge and with it, its international standing and reputation for excellence. Footnote 15

3.1.2 Size of the Canadian Astronomy Community

Key Finding 2:

Continued need for access to Canada’s international telescopes is confirmed by the increasing size of the Canadian astronomy community over the past decade.

The 2011 Astronomy in Canada study, conducted by Hickling Arthurs Low (HAL), estimated that there are at least 311 active professional astronomers in Canada who engage in funded research in both ground-based and space-based areas of astronomy. This estimate of active researchers includes academics that have received a research funding installment from NSERC between 2006 and 2009 (total: 167); post-doctoral fellows at Canadian universities / institutions (total: 108); astronomers with NRC-HIA (total: 30); and astronomers with other sources of funding (total: 6).

Over the last decade, the Canadian astronomy community has grown, which is consistent with the trend observed in astronomy worldwide. According to the LRP2010, tenure or tenure track positions in astronomy have increased by 70% since 2000, which is in contrast to an overall stagnation in faculty positions in Canada over the same period. Footnote 16 Similarly, the number of post-doctoral fellows and graduate students has approximately doubled in this timeframe. These trends are also reflected clearly in CASCA membership numbers, with the number of regular CASCA Footnote 17 members having increased by over 50% since 2000, and the number of student CASCA members having increased by over a factor of three in the same period Footnote 18 (see Figure 1).

Figure 1: Growth in the Main Segments of Astronomy Researchers in Canada
Growth in the Main Segments of Astronomy Researchers in Canada

Accessible Figure 1: Growth in the Main Segments of Astronomy Researchers in Canada

Year Tenure stream faculty Post-doctoral fellows Graduate students
2000 102 48 160
2004 125 75 225
2007 150 90 260
2010 175 100 295

3.1.3 Demand for Access to Canada’s International Telescopes

Key Finding 3:

The subscription rates for Canada’s international telescopes generally demonstrate a healthy demand for telescope access by Canadian astronomers.

The subscription on the observing time offered to telescope user communities (that is, the time requested for scientific observations divided by the time available) measures the demand for merit-based access to the telescope and is viewed by the astronomy community as a reliable indicator of the relevance of the observatory and of its instrumentation. A subscription rate greater than one indicates that there is more demand for telescope access than time available. Similar to most observatories around the world Footnote 19, NRC-HIA has set a targeted subscription rate of two or more in order to ensure merit-based selection of proposals for telescope time. Footnote 20

As is presented in Table 3, below, between semesters 2006A and 2011A Footnote 21, all telescopes except for Gemini South, have exceeded the targeted subscription rate of two. Compared to the average subscription rates of each telescope between 2006A and 2011A, Canada’s average subscription rate is relatively consistent, falling slightly above JCMT’s subscription rate, and slightly below the subscription rates of CFHT and Gemini North. The exception is Gemini South, on which Canada has a low average subscription rate.

A 2009 report by CASCA’s Optical and Infrared Astronomy Committee suggests that the lower subscription rate on Gemini South may be due to the fact that instrumentation has not been perfectly suited to Canadian interests, but that this is likely to improve in the near future with the addition of new planned instrumentation. Footnote 22 Similar sentiments were expressed by the astronomy community members interviewed as part of the evaluation, who noted that often Canadian astronomers tend to make greater use of Gemini North as opposed to Gemini South not only due to the instrumentation, but also because of its location in the Northern Hemisphere. This was said to allow for synergies and complementarity between astronomical data collected from Gemini North and CFHT, a telescope well-aligned to the needs and areas of expertise of Canadian astronomers due in part to Canada’s large share and influence in the telescope.

Table 3: Canadian Subscription Rates for International Telescopes Compared to the Telescope’s Overall Subscription Rate (2006A – 2011A) Footnote 23
Telescope Telescope Average Canadian Average
JCMT 2.51 2.78
CFHT 2.39 2.26
Gemini South 1.84 1.38
Gemini North 2.19 1.97

Canadian subscription rates during the evaluation time period suggest that although Canada’s international telescopes are consistently oversubscribed (with the exception of Gemini South, as was previously discussed), there have been notable fluctuations over the past five years (see Figure 2). Compared to the subscription rate trends of partner countries, these fluctuations generally appear to be the norm. According to internal key informant interviewees, fluctuations in subscription rates can usually be explained by any combination of the following three factors:

  • Discouragement: Due to various external factors (e.g., weather or instrumentation upgrades), science programs may get scheduled two or three times without obtaining the desired data. Often, PIs faced with this situation stop applying for additional time. Footnote 24
  • Instrumentation: Often, new instrumentation results in an increase in subscription rates for a given telescope. Likewise, as an instrument ages and research interests evolve, subscription rates may decline. For example, decreases in JCMT subscription rates over the past five years have been attributed to the astronomy community’s anticipation of SCUBA 2, a new instrument.
  • Campaign modes of observing: Increasingly, large programs are coordinated by telescope partner countries designed to answer fundamental questions about science that are beyond the scope of any one nation. These large programs, which require a significant number of hours, consume the time and energy of more astronomers for longer periods of time, resulting in fewer applications for smaller research programs.
Figure 2: Canadian Subscription Rates for International Telescopes Footnote 25
Canadian Subscription Rates for International Telescopes
Oversubscription Rates - By semester
Telescope 2006 semester A 2006 semester B 2007 semester A 2007 semester B 2008 semester A 2008 semester B 2009 semester A 2009 semester B 2010 semester A 2010 semester B 2011 semester A Average
CFHT 2.35 2.17 1.66 1.63 1.31 0.96 1.57 1.79 2.36 1.79 2.26 1.80
JCMT Telescope closed for upgrades 5.24 3.93 4.36 2.61 1.41 2.34 2.91 1.60 1.16 1.51 2.71
Gemini North 3.08 2.02 1.48 1.99 2.23 1.86 1.93 2.07 2.28 1.42 1.27 1.97
Gemini South 2.12 1.45 1.11 1.92 0.92 1.24 1.29 1.35 1.37 1.18 1.22 1.38
Average 2.12 1.45 1.11 1.92 0.92 1.24 1.29 1.35 1.37 1.18 1.22 no data 

3.1.4 Ability to Access the Telescopes in the Absence of the Program

Key Finding 4:

Although it is possible for Canadian astronomers to gain access to international telescopes through other means, the openness and international collaboration that exists within the international astronomy community is based on the idea that countries “pull their weight”. There is the view within the astronomy community that such other means of access might cease to be available if Canada did not contribute to the International Telescope Agreements.

Canadian investment in international facilities guarantees access time for researchers, generally in proportion to its contribution. However, in addition to gaining access through their country’s allocation, astronomers can also potentially access facilities through other means, such as: 1) joining an international team that gains access through another country’s allocation; 2) gaining access through the ‘open time’ allocation that some facilities have; or 3) accessing data obtained by others through archived data, such as that contained within the CADC Footnote 26.

A 2008 report by the Canadian Gemini Office, which details the results of a survey of Canadian Gemini users, indicates that it is fairly easy for astronomers to find collaborators who have access to other large telescopes and that, through these collaborations, Canadian astronomers can access instruments well matched to their science. In fact, the survey in question found that while 80 percent of Canadian Gemini users had applied to Gemini as PI over the last three years, and 50 percent had applied as PI to CFHT, a surprisingly large number had also applied as PI to the Very Large Telescope (VLT; 30%), to the Hubble Space Telescope (23%), to Magellan (17%) and to Keck (17%). The report points out that the VLT, for example, accepts proposals with foreign PIs as long as at least two thirds of the co-investigators are from the European Space Observatory (ESO) member states Footnote 27.

Canadian astronomers can also gain access through the open skies policies of other countries, such as is the case for certain observatories in the USA. The most recent US Decadal Plan for Astronomy Footnote 28 states that under the National Science Foundation’s (NSF) open skies policy, access to the U.S. national centimeter-wavelength telescopes (Enhanced Very Large Array (VLA); Green Bank Telescope (GBT); the Very Long Baseline Array (VLBA); and Arecibo) is allocated without regard to nationality. As a result, overseas investigators make substantial use of those facilities, accounting for typically one-third of the allocated observing time.

A similar openness in the scientific culture of astronomy can be seen in the computing environment where, through the CADC, Canadian astronomers can share Canadian data collections internationally. This is then reciprocated by other countries, whose researchers make their own datasets available to Canadians. Access to data is usually provided after a one-year waiting period, during which time the primary research team has proprietary access to the data.

Although such openness ultimately allows for greater access to astronomy data and facilities, the documentation reviewed and key informant interviewees from both NRC-HIA and the external Canadian astronomical community stress that it is based on strong international linkages, and that countries must be able to contribute to the science in order to gain from the larger community. Reliance on collaborations with astronomers from other countries, while an immediate possibility, may in fact be a diminishing alternative over time. That is, in the absence of the International Telescope Agreements, the prospects of Canada being a desirable collaborator decrease because there is little to no opportunity for reciprocity. It is the general sense that in order to collaborate and use others’ facilities, one generally has to have something to offer in return - the ‘pay to play’ principle Footnote 29. Additionally, in the absence of the International Telescope Agreements, Canada would simply become users of facilities and not innovators in astronomy. As internal and external key informants highlighted, being a partner in international telescopes enables influence on the scientific directions of the telescope and its instrumentation to ensure that the specific research needs and areas of expertise of one’s country are addressed.

While alternatives to the international telescopes program do exist, albeit with the aforementioned consequences, more than half of representatives from the Canadian astronomy community surveyed as part of the evaluation reported that it would be very unlikely (31.6%) or somewhat unlikely (39.8%) that they could obtain access to data to meet their research needs if Canada was not a partner in the International Telescope Agreements. With only one quarter of survey respondents indicating that it was somewhat likely or very likely that they could obtain access to data to meet their research needs if Canada was not a partner in the International Telescope Agreements, there is an apparent need for the program within the astronomy community.

3.1.5 Alignment to the Long Range Plan for Astronomy and Astrophysics

Key Finding 5:

The NRC International Telescope Agreements are consistent with the priorities and recommendations of the Long Range Plan for Astronomy and Astrophysics, which helps to ensure that the investments made adequately reflect the needs of the Canadian astronomy community.

Processes were found to be in place to ensure that NRC participates in international facilities that are relevant to the astronomy community. Priorities for investing in ground-based astronomy are largely based on the Long Range Plan for Canadian astronomy and astrophysics, a decadal plan most recently completed in 2010. There have now been two such planning processes to date, the first having taken place in 2000. The Long Range Plan 2010 (LRP2010) Panel was commissioned by CASCA, with the support and cooperation of NSERC, NRC, CSA, CFI and ACURA, and was mandated to engage the research community and identify investment priorities in astronomy and astrophysics. The resulting plan, which serves as a single unified vision for the highest priority projects in astronomy in Canada, was subsequently presented to the funders of Canadian astronomy and to the research community to inform decision making regarding future funding allocations (such decisions are ultimately made, of course, in the context of funding availability). Footnote 30 Many of Canada’s international partners (for example, the U.S., Australia, and the European community) follow similar processes in producing long range plans for astronomy.

Stakeholders from the Canadian astronomy community interviewed as part of the evaluation felt that the LRP process gave Canadian astronomers the opportunity to have their voices heard, and that the LRP2000 and LRP2010 contributed to Canada’s participation in a focused suite of international ground-based telescopes that meet the needs of the majority of Canadian astronomers. It was often highlighted that NRC-HIA played an important role in the realization of the LRP’s ground-based priorities.

Evidence that the four telescopes within the International Telescope Agreements Program are aligned with the past and current needs of the Canadian astronomy is found in comparing their presence with the priorities identified by the LRP2000 and the LRP 2010. Looking back, participation in ALMA was the LRP2000’s highest priority for a major new ground-based observatory and remains a priority in the LRP2010. As for Canada’s three other international telescope agreements, while the LRP2000 recommended ongoing operations support for Gemini, it was recommended that support for CFHT and JCMT be considered in light of other facilities that were being planned (that is, if required, resources for continuing CFHT and/or JCMT should be redirected towards ensuring Canada’s role in other priority facilities). Footnote 31

“CFHT has enormous support within the community, is consistently over-subscribed and has continued to produce cutting-edge science results. As a package, Gemini and CFHT both provide complementary, yet equally critical resources to the community.”
Report of the Gemini Assessment Point Panel (2009)

LRP2010 reaffirms that commitments to ALMA operations funding take priority over JCMT and that if no new funding for JCMT operations can be found, Canada should phase out its involvement with the JCMT and transfer its operating support to ALMA. With respect to CFHT, the LRP2010 stressed that while CFHT has generated significant scientific returns over the last decade, a number of planned facilities may eclipse the capabilities of CFHT by the end of the decade. Therefore, over the coming decade, new instrumentation and possible future redevelopment of the CFHT should be considered. Footnote 32 LRP2010 also recommends that Canada’s participation in the Gemini Observatory be reconsidered once Canadian access to an operational Very Large Optical Telescope (such as the proposed Thirty-Metre Telescope (TMT) or the European Extremely Large Telescope (E-ELT) is assured and requires operating funds. Footnote 33

In order to ensure continued alignment of the International Telescope Agreements Program with the needs of the astronomy community, consideration will need to be given to the recommendations of the LRP2010. Under the current Program Terms and Conditions (Ts&Cs), Canada can modify the suite of international telescopes in which it participates as a partner; it can add new facilities as deemed necessary, and withdraw from those no longer deemed a priority. This provides NRC with the required flexibility to address priorities and respond to opportunities. However, where the current Ts&Cs pose a potential risk is in the decommissioning of a facility (i.e., the permanent closure of the telescope, including the dismantlement of the facility and the return of the viewing site to its original state). Under the current Ts&Cs, Canada can only cover costs associated with the operation and maintenance of facilities. Costs associated with the decommissioning of an observatorycan be covered through the O&M funds allocated to the telescope; however, these are not explicitly acknowledged as an eligible cost in the Ts&Cs. Should the international partners decide that a telescope and its instrumentation have been used to the maximum extent possible and that no new knowledge can be acquired through their continued operation, the absence of explicit funding for decommissioning may present a potential risk to the Program. Footnote 34

Similarly, under the current Ts&Cs, Canada cannot cover costs associated with pre-construction or construction of an international telescope. The Astronomy in Canada study (2011) and internal key informant interviewees highlighted that being involved at an early stage in the international telescopes allows for Canada to influence the direction of the telescope and its instrumentation, helping to ensure its alignment to the needs of the astronomy community. The limitations of the current Ts&Cs may pose challenges going forward as new international facilities are proposed to meet the needs of the astronomy community. Modifications to the Program’s Ts&Cs may allow for enhanced flexibility of covering costs related to the decommissioning, as well as the pre-construction and construction of international telescopes to ensure program agility and adaptability to the changing context within which it operates.

Recommendation 2:

To address the evolving needs of the astronomical community, NRC-HIA should investigate the feasibility of modifying the International Telescope Agreements Terms and Conditions to permit flexibility in the kind of financial support provided to international telescopes.

3.2 Alignment with Government and NRC Priorities

Is the program aligned to federal government priorities and to NRC’s strategic outcomes?

3.2.1 Alignment with Government Priorities

Key Finding 6:

While Canada’s participation in the International Telescope Agreements has not been explicitly referenced as a federal government priority in recent years, the Program does align with the basic tenets of the federal government’s Science and Technology Policy, Mobilizing Science and Technology to Canada’s Advantage.

The evidence reviewed as part of this evaluation indicates that although there appears to be a logical link between federal government priorities and Canada’s participation in international telescopes, this link has not been made explicit in recent years. In fact, despite funding pressures experienced by NRC-HIA, the Canadian government has not allocated new astronomy funding to NRC since 2003, when Canada’s participation in ALMA was approved as part of the federal budget. While the 2010 Budget and Speech from the Throne highlight the importance of maintaining Canada's strong position in the space sector, there is no mention of investments in ground-based astronomy or telescopes. Footnote 35

A second factor that comprises relevance is that of program alignment with government strategies. Related to astronomy is Canada’s 2007 Science and Technology (S&T) Strategic Framework, Mobilizing Science and Technology to Canada’s Advantage. While a targeted discussion of Canada’s participation in international science facilities was found to be absent from the S&T Strategy, it is possible to demonstrate a logical alignment between certain elements of the strategy and some of the advantages that flow to Canada from investments in astronomy. For example, the S&T Strategy is based on the creation of a People Advantage: that is, “Canada must grow its base of knowledge workers by developing, attracting, and retaining the highly skilled people we need to thrive in the modern global economy”. Astronomy contributes to the development of highly skilled personnel through two mechanisms. The first is the inspiration of young people to pursue the study of science and technology, either directly through public outreach activities, or indirectly through the media. The second is the training of highly qualified people in general skills, such as the ability to solve complex problems, perform research, and develop ideas, and specific technical skills. Footnote 36

Another core principle that guides government actions with respect to the S&T Strategy is “Promoting World-class Excellence”. In the international arena, Canadian astronomy has been found to rank highest in impact of any country in the G7. Footnote 37 Similarly, astronomy is aligned with the S&T Strategy core principle “Encouraging Partnerships”. The LRP2010 makes the case that astronomy is among the most international of the sciences, with Canada’s international telescope agreements being founded on partnerships between countries. Footnote 38 At a national level, astronomy research and instrumentation development have led to multiple opportunities for partnerships, particularly among government, universities, and industry.

3.2.2 Alignment with NRC Priorities

Key Finding 7:

While alignment of the International Telescope Agreements Program to NRC’s previous strategy was not explicit, alignment with NRC’s current strategy is apparent.

Under the previous NRC strategy, Science at Work for Canada – A Strategy for the National Research Council 2006-2011, the International Telescope Agreements Program is aligned in so much as it is a mechanism by which one of the organization’s goals - “strengthen Canada’s innovation system” – can be achieved. Specifically, the 2006-2011 Strategy indicates that NRC will strengthen the Canadian innovation system by supporting major science and technology infrastructure in collaboration with the scientific community and industry, notably in areas such as astronomy and astrophysics. The International Telescope Agreements Program represents one component of this intended action.

Program alignment with NRC’s new strategic directions, announced in the spring of 2011, is more explicit. As part of its new strategy, NRC’s programs, activities and facilities are being organized along four business lines. The International Telescope Agreements fall squarely within the “Scientific Infrastructure” business line, which aims to “help clients make the most of specialized scientific infrastructure” and “includes managing large‐scale research facilities by leveraging national perspective, international networks and [NRC’s] track record of providing facility access to a wide range of Canadian and international user communities.” The program is also reflected in one of the stated goals of the new strategy; that is, that “national large-scale facilities [be] managed effectively to optimize value for Canadians.” Footnote 39

Key informant interviewees from within NRC-HIA also highlighted alignment with NRC’s mission under the new strategy. The mission, “working with clients and partners, we [NRC] provide strategic research, scientific and technical services to develop and deploy solutions to meet Canada’s current and future industrial and societal needs”, suggests a client-oriented organization. NRC-HIA credits itself with being a client-driven, client-focused organization. In fact the, 2008 Peer Review of NRC-HIA reported that NRC-HIA uses a wide variety of advisory bodies and committees to keep itself well connected to the community it serves (e.g., the NRC-HIA Advisory Board, telescope Board appointments that involve members of the university community, the appointment of external members to work on the Canadian Gemini Science Committee, use of external members to serve on Time Allocation Committees).

3.3 Role of Government

Is NRC’s current role in delivering the program appropriate, and consistent with federal roles and responsibilities?

3.3.1 NRC’s National Mandate

Key Finding 8:

NRC-HIA’s role in administering the International Telescope Agreements is consistent with the role ascribed in the NRC Act.

The documented rationale for NRC’s role in administering Canada’s International Telescope Agreements stems from Section 5 (1) (m) of the NRC Act, which states that the Council may “operate and administer any astronomical observatories established or maintained by the Government of Canada.” Footnote 40 This parliamentary mandate, assigned in 1970, is rooted in an agreement between Government and the academic community that NRC should manage Canada's astronomical observatories. With the establishment of CFHT in 1974, the mandate came to include the administration of Canada's interests in offshore observatories, including CFHT, JCMT, the Gemini Observatories and ALMA. Footnote 41

3.3.2 Value-added of NRC-HIA in Program Delivery

Internal and external key informant interviews and documentation reviewed as part of this evaluation support the role played by the federal government in administering the International Telescope Agreements Program for a number of reasons. Further, the evidence also demonstrates that NRC-HIA is best positioned to manage the Program on behalf of NRC and the federal government. In essence, large-scale, multi-national endeavours generally require the federal government to be a signatory and NRC has a well-recognized role as the Canadian signatory in international astronomy agreements. Many stakeholders, both internal and external to NRC, also commented that NRC-HIA’s role with respect to international telescopes is appropriate since it is seen as an organization that operates in the national interest.

“Without an organization like NRC-HIA, Canada could not be a credible and productive partner in major international observatory facilities.”
LRP2010

NRC-HIA, by overseeing the telescope agreements and by providing operational funding, acts as an important intermediary between Canadian researchers and the telescopes. Footnote 42 As key informants from both NRC-HIA and the external Canadian astronomical community noted, in order to effectively support the administration of the Program (e.g., participation on the Board of Directors, providing technical support to the Canadian community for telescope access), a basic core of scientific expertise and understanding of the observatories is required. NRC-HIA possesses these qualities, and also benefits from the corporate and institute-level resources that allow it to maintain a reasonable degree of financial stability and predictability. These are both viewed by the astronomy community as critical in the development of relationships with international partners. Footnote 43

Representatives from the Canadian astronomy community felt that NRC-HIA’s scientific and instrumentation development expertise Footnote 44 are strengths and provide added value in the administration of the International Telescope Agreements Program. As was highlighted by many interviewees, the in-house scientific and technical expertise at NRC-HIA enables astronomers to assess the plausibility of planned research activities relative to the instrumentation capabilities of the telescopes. Further, by working side by side with astronomers, the engineers can better understand the effects of technical designs on astronomical research. University astronomers were also said to consult NRC-HIA engineers in a similar manner as NRC-HIA research staff in the development of their scientific programs. This was viewed by many key informants as facilitating Canadian astronomers’ efficient and effective astronomical research with the international observatories. In fact, three quarters (i.e., 76%) of PIs surveyed as part the evaluation who were awarded time on Gemini, JCMT, and / or CFHT in the last five years agreed or strongly agreed that the staff at NRC-HIA effectively facilitated their access, or the access of their research team, to the international telescopes.

While some universities are also engaged in telescope instrumentation projects and thus have some technical expertise alongside their scientific staff (e.g., McGill, University of Toronto), according to the LRP2010 the instruments that NRC-HIA develops are on a scale that cannot be duplicated in university laboratories. This is largely attributable to the absence of a stable core of expertise over relatively long periods of time within universities, deemed necessary to remain competitive on the international scene to attract major instrumentation contracts. Footnote 45 By maintaining in-house instrumentation capabilities, NRC-HIA can work collaboratively with industry on instrumentation for the telescopes. Often, telescope instrumentation is at the leading edge of technology development and requires NRC-HIA to work closely with industry to bring their capabilities to the necessary level to participate in instrumentation projects.

Additionally, NRC-HIA’s data management skills were deemed to be ‘one of a kind’ by external key informant interviewees, and necessary for the effective operation of the CADC, one component of the International Telescope Agreements Program. As is discussed later in the report, NRC-HIA’s expertise in data management has been specifically sought out and drawn on by other disciplines, such as ocean sciences, in their endeavor to house large quantities of scientific data.

3.3.3 Alternative Delivery Agents

Key Finding 9:

NRC-HIA is widely viewed as the most appropriate delivery agent for the International Telescope Agreements.

While some alternative delivery agents for the International Telescope Agreements Program were identified by both internal and external key informants, these were not deemed more appropriate than NRC-HIA. The most commonly identified alternative was universities, because of the large proportion (i.e., more than 90%) of astronomy research conducted by the academic community. Footnote 46 However, as many key informants from NRC-HIA and the Canadian astronomical community highlighted, individual universities do not currently represent a viable alternative to NRC-HIA because of their provincial focus and lack of national mandate. This view was supported by stakeholders consulted as part of the 2007 Evaluation of the NRC-HIA’s Implementation of the Long Range Plan for Canadian Astronomy and Astrophysics, who commented that “NRC-HIA has a national mandate that differentiates it from a Canadian university”. Footnote 47 Stakeholders interviewed as part of the 2007 Evaluation of the NRC-HIA’s Implementation of the Long Range Plan also highlighted that very few universities can afford the observational facilities on their own, and require the involvement of the federal government.

The Association of Canadian Universities for Research in Astronomy (ACURA) Footnote 48 was also identified as a potential delivery agent but rejected by many key informants from the astronomical community interviewed as part of the evaluation; these stakeholders expressed concerns regarding the “potential danger” of ACURA operating in the interests of a few dominant universities. In addition, ACURA’s relatively new stature as an association, limited experience with managing facilities, and its limited track record in effective decision making were highlighted by key informants as potential risks. Currently, ACURA does not have the operational capabilities required to administer the activities falling within the scope of the International Telescope Agreements Program. While interviewees from the Canadian astronomical community noted that ACURA could play a strictly administrative role (i.e., delivery of Canada’s financial contribution), the absence of an accountability structure required to manage government funds may prove to be problematic in practice.

Other possible delivery agents for the International Telescope Agreements Program include NSERC, CFI and CSA. Evidence collected from the document review as well as interviews with internal and external stakeholders indicate that the administration of the International Telescope Agreements Program falls outside of the mandated roles of these organizations, and administering the International Telescope Agreements Program in its entirety surpasses the internal capacities of these organizations. Footnote 49

External stakeholders did indicate, however, that opportunities exist for increased collaboration, communication and coordination among NRC-HIA, and NSERC, CFI, CSA, and ACURA in support of Canadian astronomy in general. Stakeholders, both internal and external, specifically identified a lack of clarity around the roles and coordination functions of each of these participants. A result of this perceived lack of clarity and coordination, according to key informants from the astronomy community, is uncertainty regarding the funding process for new astronomical infrastructure. External key informants felt that this process is ad hoc and politically driven. While evaluation participants from the astronomy community acknowledged that efforts have been made to coordinate federal agencies involved in astronomy through the establishment of the Agency Committee for Canadian Astronomy, increased interagency discussions on funding for astronomy projects were deemed necessary. Footnote 50

4.0 Findings: Performance

The performance of the International Telescope Agreements Program was examined according to its achievement of expected outcomes, as well as its demonstrated efficiency and economy.

4.1 Achievement of Expected Outcomes

The immediate, intermediate and ultimate outcomes associated with NRC’s participation in the International Telescope Agreements can be grouped under three broad interrelated themes:

  • Generating scientific benefits for the Canadian and worldwide communities;
  • Allowing Canadian industry to contribute to the development of telescope instrumentation; and
  • Enhancing and/or sustaining Canada’s position among the world’s leaders in astronomy.

This section of the report examines the performance of the International Telescope Agreements in contributing to the achievement of these outcomes.

4.1.1 Generation of Scientific Benefits

To what extent has Canada’s participation in the International Telescope Agreements generated scientific benefits to the Canadian and worldwide communities?

Key Finding 10:

Access to the international telescopes has afforded Canadian astronomers the opportunity to generate new knowledge while contributing to the training of highly qualified personnel.

Creation and Dissemination of New Knowledge
“….Canadian-led Gemini programs have produced greater-than-average publication and citation rates, both strong indicators that the research community is using the facilities imaginatively, to strategic advantage, and with consequently far-reaching scientific impact…”
Report of the Gemini Assessment Point Panel (2009)

Through access to the international facilities, Canadian astronomers have been able to contribute to the generation of new knowledge. Approximately 88% of survey respondents who were awarded time as a PI or were a part of a research team that gained access to one of Canada’s international telescopes (in the past five years, or prior to that) reported that access to Canada's international telescopes has enabled them or their research team to obtain knowledge that was crucial to advancing a research project. Similarly, 94% agreed or strongly agreed that access to the international telescopes enabled them or their research team to make significant contributions to their field of research.

Publications and conference presentations resulting from Canadian astronomers’ use of the international telescopes suggest that not only are Canadian astronomers generating new knowledge, but they are also effectively disseminating it to the broader international astronomical community. The table below, shows that the majority of PIs surveyed as part of the evaluation felt that their telescope access to Gemini, CFHT, and / or JCMT has already resulted in a publication or conference presentation, and if it had not already, that it would likely lead to one of the two. Those who reported that the telescope access time will likely contribute to a publication were more likely to have accessed a telescope in 2010, and thus have not yet had sufficient time to produce and publish research results.

Table 4: Canadian publication and conference presentation status resulting from access to CFHT, JCMT, and Gemini (North and South)
Status Publication Conference Presentation
Already contributed to… 39.36% 65.59%
Likely to lead to… 52.13% 20.43%

An example of the scientific benefits derived from Canada’s participation in the International Telescope Agreements is demonstrated in one of the first unambiguous direct detections of an exoplanet, and also the first multi-planet system that has ever been imaged. This discovery was made possible by an international team, led by Canadian Christian Marois. The team published a paper describing the discovery with data obtained from Gemini as well as other observatories. This discovery represents a milestone in the long journey of finding an Earth-like planet with a life-supporting atmosphere. Footnote 51

In addition to the generation of new knowledge from Canadian researchers having access to international facilities, the CADC, one component of the International Telescope Agreements Program, has enabled researchers around the world to access archival data. In 2010, the number of unique users requesting data from Gemini, JCMT, and CFHT through CADC was approximately 1,995. The number of unique users, which has steadily risen over the past 11 years, is at an all-time high. The number of files delivered from CADC also suggests that it is a resource that is being increasingly accessed. Several key informants further support the impact of the CADC by emphasizing its ground-breaking role in storing and managing access to astronomy data. Documents reviewed Footnote 52 as part of the evaluation recognize CADC’s importance not only to Canadian astronomers, but also to the international research community.

Training of Highly Qualified Personnel

In addition to generating new knowledge, Canada’s participation in the international telescopes provides access to facilities in support of student and post doctoral training. Access to the international telescopes was viewed as an important factor in student training by external and internal key informant interviewees and 90 % of survey respondents agreed or strongly agreed that access to the international telescopes is critical to the training of students and / or post docs.

While the training largely occurs within the university system, having access to the international telescopes and their data enables Canadian graduate students to be internationally competitive. Stakeholders highlighted that in the absence of the International Telescope Agreements, the quality of student training would be affected, limiting their innovativeness as well as their international competitiveness.

The survey conducted as part of the evaluation reveals that, on average, 2 students or post docs were on each research team that was granted access to one of the telescopes (range: 0 – 35). Further, in the past two years, the number of applications submitted by Masters and PhD students for time on Gemini in support of their theses accounted for an average of approximately 38% of the total Canadian applications for time on Gemini per semester. Internal and external informants believe that a large proportion of students eventually pursue careers in areas other than astronomy. This is supported by a survey conducted as part of the LRP process, involving all post-1990 PhDs in Canada. The survey found that 20% of graduates transition into non-astronomy occupations in areas such as finance, information technology, medicine and teaching. It can be argued that, similar to many other physical sciences, the training provided to students in the field of astronomy supports the development of broad analytical competencies that can be used in a multitude of sectors.

4.1.2 Industrial Contributions

To what extent has Canada’s participation in the International Telescope Agreements allowed Canadian industry to contribute to the development of telescope instrumentation?

Key Finding 11:

Canada’s participation in the International Telescope Agreements has allowed Canadian firms to contribute to the development of telescope instrumentation and ultimately enhance their own technological capabilities. More specifically, Canada’s participation in the Agreements benefited Canadian industry in two ways: 1) providing the opportunity to bid on contracts and, 2) enabling firms to capture larger opportunities not related to the International Telescope Agreements.

Direct Opportunities

According to the Astronomy in Canada study Footnote 53, the economic impact of Canada’s participation in astronomy research flows not from the research itself but rather from the ground-breaking instruments that Canadian astronomers have developed for the telescopes. With each new telescope, Canadian scientists and engineers were able to push the technological frontiers in areas such as sensor design and spatial resolution. Given Canada’s financial contribution to the telescopes, Canadian firms have the opportunity to bid on contracts related to the facilities covered by the International Telescope Agreements. Key evaluation informants were unanimous in their agreement that Canada’s participation in the International Telescope Agreements has spawned economic benefits that extend beyond the astronomy community to include amongst others, Canadian industry.

Expanding on the direct benefits discussed above, evidence shows that NRC-HIA’s work with companies has strengthened their industrial research capacity and provided them with access to specialized equipment and training, which has enhanced their ability to contribute to the development of telescope instrumentation. Canada’s involvement in the CFHT, illustrates this point having given the country experience in nascent areas of astronomy such as high resolution imaging. Such enhanced industrial capacity can generate potential future commercial benefits in areas such as adaptive optics and correlators, two areas that have cross-over potential in other application areas and for which Canada has an international reputation. Adaptive optics is having an impact in such areas as ophthalmology and correlator technology is now recognized as having potential for communication systems that make use of spread spectrum techniques.” Footnote 54 Table 5, below, provides examples of Canadian companies that have benefited in a demonstrable way from contracts in the telescope projects.

It should be noted that while most industry informants were appreciative of NRC-HIA’s assistance, some have expressed a strong interest in playing a larger role in the process by which future instrumentation is developed for the telescopes. Where appropriate, NRC-HIA has facilitated the engagement of companies in early phases of instrumentation development, often through collaborative arrangements that include Canadian universities.

Name of Firm Description Value
Dynamics Structures Ltd (DSL) - Coquitlam, British Columbia Initially contracted to provide structural steel for CFHT construction, DSL won the contract to build the enclosure on that telescope. The CFHT project positioned DSL to design, manufacture and build twelve of the world’s largest telescope enclosures. After successfully delivering this challenging engineering feat, the company parlayed its experience and expertise into becoming a world leader in the design and manufacture of amusement park rides. Footnote 55 Gross revenues:
  • $300 million (from telescope enclosures)
  • $300 million (from amusement park rides)
  • $300 million in orders pending
Daniels Electronic - Victoria, BC Daniels Electronic is a specialized communications company. In 2008 it was awarded a contract for the assembly and test of Band 3 84-116 GHz heterodyne receivers for the ALMA telescopes. Footnote 56 This contract is worth $1.3 Million
Teraxion - Sherbrooke, Québec This company develops and manufactures specialized laser systems. It was awarded a contract to supply ALMA critical components for radio antennae. TeraXion is now seeking potential markets, e.g., defence and aerospace industries, for its new products and technologies. Footnote 57 Contract is worth more than $5 million
ABB Bomem – Québec, PQ ABB Bomem has expertise in optical and infrared instrumentation and metrology systems. The company’s contributions to astronomy include the Sitelle instrument for the CFHT. Astronomy contracts have helped ABB to position itself favourably in developing space instrumentation unrelated to astronomy. Footnote 58 Astronomy contracts valued at $4M USD (since 1997)
Non-astronomy contracts valued at $100M
Nanowave Technologies – Toronto, ON Nanowave Technologies successfully produced highly customized components for the ALMA Band 3. The products attracted customers outside the astronomy community such as l’Energie Atomique in France. Footnote 59 no data 
Enabling Conditions

The fact that Canadian firms were able to develop valuable expertise in astronomy instrumentation allowed them to position themselves well for even larger projects, such as the Thirty Metre Telescope and the Square Kilometer Array (which are not part of the current Agreements). For example, the Canadian firm Dynamic Structures Ltd. (DSL) leveraged its previous experience from building components for the Canada-France-Hawaii and Gemini telescopes to obtain a Japanese government contract to participate in the building of a national observatory (Subaru).

Although Canadian industry has been known to engage in the development of instrumentation for facilities to which Canada is not a financial contributor, priority is normally given to partner countries. This principle is supported by industry informants who indicated that opportunities to bid on projects exist because of Canada’s involvement in the International Telescope Agreements.

4.1.3 Canada’s Reputation as a World Leader

To what extent has Canada’s participation in the International Telescope Agreements enhanced and/or sustained Canada’s position among the world’s leaders in astronomy?

Key Finding 12:

As demonstrated by the awards and recognition bestowed upon Canadian researchers linked to the International Telescope Agreements, Canada is held in high esteem by the International astronomy community.

Leadership in International Astronomy Community

A major indicator of Canada’s position among the world’s leaders in astronomy can be derived from the positions held by Canadians on Boards responsible for planning important new facilities (e.g., JWST, TMT, SKA). There is consensus among the evaluation’s key informants that having seats on these Boards enables Canada to influence the science direction of the telescopes. According to one internal key informant, Canada’s influence on the boards is a reflection of Canadian strengths in research as well as in instrumentation. Further evidence of Canadian leadership in the astronomy community can be derived from the positions held by Canadians on the Gemini Finance and Science Advisory Committees.

International Awards and Recognition

Canadian key informants were not alone in highlighting Canada’s position among the world’s leaders in astronomy. In fact, the overwhelming majority of key international informants believed that participating in the International Telescope Agreements has enhanced Canada’s position among the world’s leaders in astronomy. In the words of one key international informant: “…Canadian astronomers are very well recognized internationally for the many major scientific discoveries and advancements they have made on the CFHT and Gemini telescopes… the Gemini Deep Deep Survey is recognized internationally as one of the most significant and ground-breaking surveys of the distant universe.” This statement is further supported by a majority of survey respondents who agreed or strongly agreed that Canada's participation in international telescope agreements has contributed to Canada being viewed internationally as a leader in the field (i.e. approximately 90%).

As was highlighted in an earlier section, access to the International Telescope Agreements contributed to the success of Canadian astronomer Christian Marois and his team in imaging for the first time a planetary system outside Earth’s solar system, using both Gemini and the Keck Observatory. For this discovery Marois and his co-authors were awarded the AAAS Newcomb Cleveland Prize, which “acknowledges an outstanding paper published in the Articles, Research Articles, or Reports sections of Science”.

4.1.4 Unintended Outcomes

Have there been any unintended (positive or negative) outcomes as a result of Canada’s participation in the Program?

Key Finding 13:

In addition to the intended outcomes of the International Telescope Agreements Program, the evaluation found evidence to support the achievement of additional, unintended outcomes resulting from the Program. These included expertise acquired by industry in non-astronomy areas, advanced data management capabilities, and the attraction of young people to science and engineering.

Expertise Acquired by Industry in Other Fields/Sectors

Like any publicly-funded research, government investors expect the accrual of a range of socio-economic benefits such as the generation and use of new knowledge in astronomy, and the associated training of skilled people. Yet astronomy is noteworthy for generating additional benefits related to its need for costly and technologically advanced observatories, resulting in the opportunity for Canadian companies to participate in the construction of these facilities. Footnote 60 As discussed in a previous section, the increased expertise and experience these companies acquire in the course of undertaking astronomy work may result in the development of unintended devices and skills that have applications in other areas (e.g., DSL’s foray into designing and manufacturing of amusement park rides).

Data Management Capabilities

To validate its findings, the astronomy community requires increasingly advanced facilities that store and disseminate larger amounts of data. To that end, the community has collaborated with other disciplines to develop advanced information and communications technology (ICT), including sophisticated capabilities in networking, computing, and data management for storing and managing access to large data sets. CADC has seen a rise in demand for its data management expertise in non-astronomy related areas such as defence and ocean technologies. According to NRC-HIA, CADC played an important role in enabling a new scale of ocean science with the international NEPTUNE project at University of Victoria. The project uses a system based on CADC technology to monitor the Juan de Fuca tectonic plate.

Attracting Young People to Science and Engineering-Related Disciplines

Given that astronomy excites the human imagination, it is used as a tool for raising public awareness of science, targeting students in the form of outreach programs. CFHT and Gemini have held imaging contests for Canadian youth, where they can propose to have an object observed. External and internal key informant interviewees noted that Canada’s participation in the international telescopes and Canadian discoveries, capture the Canadian public’s interest in science. This awareness plays an important role in engaging youth in the sciences at an early age. As some interviewees noted, it was this early fascination with astronomy that led them to pursue studies and eventually careers in astronomy. The NRC-HIA Center of the Universe, a Victoria-based public outreach facility, was highlighted as an important vehicle for disseminating astronomical information from Canada’s participation in international telescopes to the general population and capturing the Canadian public’s interest in science.

5.0 Findings: Performance - Demonstration of Economy and Efficiency

5.1 Economy

Have NRC-HIA’s resources in support of the administration of the International Telescope Agreements been used in an economic manner?

Key Finding 14:

The overall cost of NRC-HIA contribution to the administration of the International Telescope Agreements was found to have decreased over the evaluation period, due to process and procedure modifications.

5.1.1 Minimized Labour Costs

According to key informants and financial documents supplied by NRC-HIA, cost savings were realized over the evaluation period through changes in operational procedures, such as discontinuing the practice of assigning HIA astronomers to work as staff members at the offshore telescopes. Allowing the Observatory to hire staff on behalf of NRC-HIA through a contractual arrangement was found to be more cost-effective. The most recent change occurred in 2009-10, and while it initially resulted in an increase in the total costs associated with resident astronomer contracts, the additional expenses were more than offset by the greater overall savings, especially compared to previous years. On average, resident astronomer contracts for JCMT in 2010-11 increased by $52,000.00 compared to previous years, in which both resident astronomer contracts and NRC-HIA staff were hired. When compared to the average of total costs for astronomer contracts and supplying NRC-HIA staff to the observatory between 2005-06 and 2009-10, the cost savings of using only resident astronomer contracts was approximately $78,000.00. NRC-HIA documents also revealed other examples of resources being used in an economic manner such as streamlining the Gemini Canada Office.

5.1.2 In-kind Contributions

In addition to NRC-HIA minimizing the labour costs associated with administering the program, the Canadian astronomy community made in-kind contributions through the donated time by Time Allocation Committee (TAC) members and external referees. According to key informants, on average, a member of the TAC spends about 28 hours per semester on TAC tasks plus two days per semester for the TAC meeting.

5.1.3 Other Cost-reduction Measures
  • Increase the use of video conferencing to reduce unnecessary travel by astronomers and minimize costs.
  • Leveraging CADC systems to improve the use of information collected from previous observations and eliminating duplication of efforts. This also reduced the operating costs of the Observatories, resulting in a proportional reduction in NRC-HIA’s contribution to the entities’ administrative costs.
  • CFHT management which includes strong NRC-HIA representation, has controlled expenditures by:
    • Attracting other partners to share the expense of operations and cost of new instruments.
    • Controlling the number of employees (CFHT once had 50+ employees and now is down to 32 full-time employees) and pursuing a full automation plan which will allow for unattended observing. Footnote 61 Other benefits of the full automation plan include a reduction in travel and housing costs and usage of the CFHT fleet, improved reliability, and reduced staff safety risks.

It should be noted that the analysis of costs associated with the administration of the International Telescope Agreements Program cannot be assessed historically (i.e., trend analysis) as was originally anticipated due to the inability to review costs on an annual basis. This is largely because time at NRC-HIA is not tracked against the International Telescope Agreements; in order to identify the costs of program administration, NRC-HIA estimated the average percentage of time spent by staff on tasks related to the administration of the International Telescope Agreements, as well as associated operational costs. This estimate could not be provided on an annual basis.

Recommendation 2:

The International Telescope Agreements Program is fully integrated within the administrative structure of NRC-HIA. This arrangement represents an economical use of resources and should be maintained in the future. It is recommended that future evaluations of NRC-HIA include the International Telescope Agreements and assess the relevance and performance of both components within the same study.

5.2 Efficiency

Are Canada’s International Telescope Agreements administered in an efficient manner?

Key Finding 15:

Overall, Canada’s International Telescope Agreements Program is administered in an efficient manner.

Using the level of client satisfaction as a proxy indicator of efficiency, users of the facilities were found to be generally satisfied with the manner in which NRC-HIA has administered their access to the telescopes. For example, more than three quarters (76.04%) of surveyed PIs who were awarded time on Gemini, JMT, and / or CFHT in the last five years agreed or strongly agreed that the staff at HIA effectively facilitated their access, or the access of their research team, to the telescope. The majority of survey respondents indicated that the time allocation process was fair, that the application process for accessing telescope was reasonably straightforward, that the applications to a telescope were processed in a reasonable amount of time, and that they were provided adequate feedback on the results of their proposal for access to telescopes.

In an effort to increase efficiency, a restructuring of the TAC was undertaken recently so that it is no longer organized by telescope domain but rather structured by science domain (e.g. inter/extragalactic). This restructuring effort can be considered an indicator of how NRC-HIA identifies and responds to the changing needs of the community. Historically, astronomers were categorized by the wavelength or telescopes they used (e.g., radio versus millimeter astronomy; space versus ground based). However, increasingly astronomers are combining observations from many telescopes, taking a multi-wavelength / multi-telescope approach, to answer their research questions. As a result, the distinction between ground-based and space-based astronomers is decreasing.

Currently, proposals are first submitted to the Time Allocation Committee at NRC-HIA before being shared with the chair of the TAC. Proposals are assessed by each member of the TAC, as well as two external referees. This process ensures that the best proposals are granted access to the telescopes and is generally consistent with the structure employed for time allocation in other countries (i.e., USA, U.K and Australia). Where Canada’s review process differs from that of comparator countries is in its use of two external referees; other countries draw on only one external referee as the standard practice, with some using external referees only in specific circumstances (e.g., for large programs requesting more than 50 nights of telescope time).

5.2.1 Cost-effectiveness

Are there external factors that have an impact on the cost-effectiveness of the International Telescope Agreements Program?

Success Factors

Key Finding 16:

The cost-effectiveness of the International Telescope Agreements Program is due in part to a sense of commitment to planning as well as strong relationships among stakeholders.

Factors key to the success of the International Telescope Agreements include:

  • Strong collaborative relationships between NRC-HIA and the astronomy community enable both parties to address important common issues. In the words of one internal key informant: “Canada has a well-functioning system in place in the interactions between NRC, university, and industry”.
  • The strength of these relationships is shown through the commitment to planning of the astronomy community manifested through its decadal plan.
  • NRC-HIA’s expertise in managing the international facility partnerships, and in maintaining its capabilities in the development of leading astronomy technology. Footnote 62

Challenges in Cost-effectiveness

Key Finding 17:

Some of the challenges faced by the International Telescope Agreements include uncertainty caused by partner withdrawals from agreements, foreign exchange rate fluctuations, and CADC’s need to access specialized high speed Internet.

Key informants listed the external factors that may hinder the ability of the International Telescope Agreements to achieve their objectives. These include:

  • Uncertainty arising out of the UK’s announced withdrawal from Gemini in 2012 has had some impact on Canada’s involvement in the telescope. While the UK’s withdrawal will not cause major changes in the current processes, a potential shift in the partnership’s existing power balance could diminish Canada’s influence in management and scientific decision-making. The Canadian community has long valued the importance of a governance role in its shared facilities. Canada must act to maintain its ability to effectively participate in governance of the telescope in the face of any partnership changes resulting from the UK’s withdrawal. Footnote 63
  • Foreign currency fluctuations: Budgeting and estimating administration costs for offshore facilities may vary considerably because of exchange rate fluctuations. NRC-HIA must monitor and manage currency fluctuations by seeking adjustments through the Annual Reference Level Update (ARLU) process to avoid the undesirable lapse of allocated funds.
  • CADC’s lack of access to high speed internet: CADC’s services are not optimized due to lack of access to required high-speed Internet. CADC provides the community with a number of sought-after services and the software and data storage have now been projected out to the HPC ‘cloud’ managed by Compute Canada. In order to effectively use these services, high-speed internet connections are needed. NRC-HIA is served only by the NRC internal network, which according to the Astronomy in Canada report (HAL), runs at a tenth of the speed that the users have available to them. This mismatch restricts the service levels that the CADC can potentially provide to their clients. Footnote 64
Recommendation 3:

NRC-HIA should investigate the potential cost and feasibility of providing specialized high-speed internet access to the CADC, to keep up with increasing demands and to prepare for the large volume of data expected from ALMA in future years.

6.0 General Conclusions and Recommendations

The Results-based Management and Accountability Framework (RMAF) developed for the International Telescope Agreements in 2004 outlines five objectives for the Program. The findings of the evaluation are reviewed here within the context of these objectives:

Increase Canada’s access to and beneficial sharing of world-class facilities and expertise in astrophysics

This objective relates to the raison d’être of the Program, specifically with regards to increased generation and use of astrophysical knowledge, while contributing to the training of highly qualified personnel. Key to the achievement of this objective is access to international telescopes, including both those accessed under the agreements and those belonging to other countries. Canada’s participation in the International Telescope Agreements enables Canadian researchers to gain access to facilities and instrumentation world-wide. Through this access, Canadian astronomers are able to conduct world-class research and participate in knowledge generation in their field.

Increase scientific collaboration among Canada and partner countries

Publications authored by teams of Canadian and international astronomers resulting from the use of the international telescopes are a clear indication that not only are Canadian astronomers generating new knowledge, but they are also effectively sharing it with the broader international astronomical community. Given the rapid advancements observed in recent years in astronomy and astrophysics, this objective continues to be relevant.

Increase training opportunities for Canadian scientists and researchers

By virtue of enabling access to the International Telescopes, the program contributes to the development of HQP in astronomy and other fields. For example, the administration of time allocation to students reflects the importance given to training the next generation of researchers in this area.

Increase opportunities for Canadian researchers and firms to develop instrumentation

Canadian researchers and firms continue to have opportunities to develop instrumentation stemming from the Agreements. Implicit in this objective is the strengthening of Canada’s industrial research capacity through various collaborative means. Overall, this objective has been achieved and continues to be relevant, particularly in view of NRC’s new strategy with regards to bridging the gap between technology development and commercialization.

Increase Canada’s knowledge and understanding of the universe by the observation and study of the heavenly bodies

Canada appears to have been an effective and well-respected contributor to important astronomical discoveries. Several recent Canadian-led discoveries represent important milestones along the journey of increasing our knowledge and understanding of the cosmos.

Recommendations

The evaluation concludes that the International Telescope Agreements Program provides good value-for-money for NRC and the federal government. No major challenges have been identified in ensuring the continued success of the Program. Three recommendations have been generated in the spirit of continued organizational learning and improvement and are presented below. Appendix A summarizes each recommendation as well as the Management Response and Action Plan (MRAP).

Recommendation 1:

To address the evolving needs of the astronomical community, NRC-HIA should investigate the feasibility of modifying the International Telescope Agreements Terms and Conditions to permit flexibility in the kind of financial support provided to international telescopes.

Recommendation 2:

The International Telescope Agreements Program is fully integrated within the administrative structure of NRC-HIA. This arrangement represents an economical use of resources and should be maintained in the future. It is recommended that future evaluations of NRC-HIA include the International Telescope Agreements and assess the relevance and performance of both components within the same study.

Recommendation 3:

NRC-HIA should investigate the potential cost and feasibility of providing specialized high-speed internet access to the CADC, to keep up with increasing demands and to prepare for the large volume of data expected from ALMA in future years.

7.0 Management Response

Recommendation

Recommendation 1: To address the evolving needs of the astronomical community, NRC-HIA should investigate the feasibility of modifying the International Telescopes Agreements Terms and Conditions to permit flexibility in the kind of financial support provided to international telescopes.

Response and Planned Action(s)

Agreed. NRC-HIA is working with the VPO, Finance and Strategic & Operational Planning to revise the Ts and Cs for flexibility. Appropriate consultations will be held with Industry Canada and TBS to ensure the Ts and Cs conform to GoC policies and procedures.

Responsibility

VP, Frontier Science, supported by VPO, Finance and Operational Planning.

Timelines

Approved new Ts & Cs by December 2012.

Measures of Achievement

New Ts and Cs for telescopes approved by TBS.

Recommendation

Recommendation 2: The International Telescope Agreements Program is fully integrated within the administrative structure of NRC-HIA. This arrangement represents an economical use of resources and should be maintained in the future. It is recommended that future evaluations of NRC-HIA include the International Telescope Agreements and assess the relevance and performance of both components within the same study.

Response and Planned Action(s)

Agreed. Given that most NRC-HIA activities are in support of the International Telescope Agreements, a concerted evaluation every five years will be more efficient. Aligning all evaluation elements together will provide streamlining as well as more effectively addressing the larger context in which NRC-HIA operates.

Responsibility

VP, Frontier Science and Director Audit and Evaluation

Timelines

Next evaluation must be completed by 2016-17.

Measures of Achievement

Next evaluation completed in 2016-17 including a broader evaluation of NRC-HIA.

Recommendation

Recommendation 3: NRC-HIA should investigate the potential cost and feasibility of providing specialized high-speed internet access to the CADC, to keep up with increasing demands and to prepare for the large volume of data expected from ALMA in future years.

Response and Planned Action(s)

Agreed. CADC is part of a global network of data centres providing service to researchers from Canada and abroad. As of summer 2011, CADC is no longer the sole responsibility of NRC – Shared Services Canada (SSC) is now a key partner for the Centre as well as Compute Canada. NRC will work with these partners to ensure required upgrades to CADC’s capability based on a plan addressing the ongoing needs of CADC clients.

Responsibility

VP, Frontier Science; DG,NRC-HIA; DG, IMSB

Timelines

Timelines will be dependent on SSC plans for network upgrades.

Measures of Achievement

CADC meets client demands for faster data access.

Appendix A - Evaluation Matrix

Questions Methods
Document Review Data Review Socio-Economic Impact Study International Comparison Study Stakeholder Interviews User Community Survey
Relevance 1. Continued Need for the Program
Does the International Telescope Agreements Program continue to address a demonstrable need? Yes Yes No No Yes Yes
Relevance 2. Alignment with Government Priorities
Is the program aligned to federal government priorities, and to NRC’s strategic outcomes? Yes No No No Yes No
Relevance 3. Alignment with Federal Roles and Responsibilities
Is NRC’s current role in delivering the program appropriate, and consistent with federal roles and responsibilities? Yes No No Yes Yes Yes
Performance 1. Achievement of Expected Outcomes
To what extent has Canada’s participation in the International Telescope Agreements generated scientific benefits to the Canadian and worldwide communities? Yes Yes No Yes Yes Yes
To what extent has Canada’s participation in the International Telescope Agreements allowed Canadian industry to contribute to the development of telescope instrumentation? Yes Yes Yes No Yes No
To what extent has Canada’s participation in the International Telescope Agreements enhanced and/or sustained Canada’s position among the world’s leaders in astronomy? Yes Yes No No Yes Yes
Have there been any unintended (positive or negative) outcomes as a result of Canada’s participation in the program? Yes No Yes No Yes No
Performance 2. Demonstration of Economy and Efficiency
Have NRC-HIA’s resources in support of the administration of the International Telescope Agreements been used in an economic manner? Yes No No No Yes No
Are Canada’s International Telescope Agreements administered in an efficient manner? Yes Yes No Yes Yes Yes
Are there external factors that have an impact on the cost-effectiveness of the International Telescope Agreements Program? Yes Yes No Yes Yes No

Appendix B - Methodology

The evaluation of the NRC International Telescope Agreements Program was conducted to assess the value for money of the program (i.e., relevance and performance) between FY 2005-06 and 2010-11, inclusive. The scope of the evaluation focuses on the investments made through the International Telescope Agreements and the activities undertaken by NRC in support of these investments (comprising the “Program”).

The selection of methods was based upon the most efficient means of addressing the evaluation issues in a rigorous way, while taking into account cost, time and resource constraints, as well as other considerations, such as evaluation scope, evaluation budget, and minimizing response burden. The evaluation approach and level of effort was commensurate with the program risk, which was assessed as low during an assessment conducted as part of the planning phase. As such, an objectives-oriented approach was taken, using a non-experimental, largely descriptive evaluation design.

In order to maximize the possibility of generating useful, valid and relevant evaluation findings, mixed methods were used for this evaluation, allowing for triangulation (i.e., convergence of results across lines of evidence) and complementarity (i.e., developing better understanding by exploring different facets of a complex issue). Both qualitative and quantitative methods were used, and include:

  • An internal and external document review;
  • An administrative and performance data review;
  • Key informant interviews (internal and external); and
  • A web survey of the user community.

A discussion of the approach used for each of these methods as well as their limitations is provided in the following paragraphs.

Internal and External Document Review

Internal and external documents were reviewed, synthesized and integrated into the evaluation to provide context and history, and to complement other lines of evidence in assessing relevance and performance. Internal documents reviewed included internal documents such as the program’s Terms and Conditions, the Results-Based Management and Accountability Framework (RMAF) and Results-based Audit Framework (RBAF) for the Telescopes Agreements, previous reviews and evaluation reports, as well as selected program records (e.g., memoranda, briefing notes).

In addition, a wide range of external documentation from the astronomy community was also made available and reviewed by the evaluation team, including but not limited to, the Long Range Plan 2010, literature on the astronomy in Canada, including background information on the various astronomy stakeholders (e.g., Canadian Space Agency, Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council, Association of Canadian Universities for Research in Astronomy), as well as literature on the productivity and scientific impact of astronomy and astronomical observatories. A list of the documents reviewed can be found in Appendix F.

Given the relatively low level of risk associated with this program, the evaluation sought, to the extent possible, to minimize the burden on NRC-HIA, and on the astronomy community by leveraging secondary information from a number of independent studies that have been undertaken in recent years, which address similar issues surrounding NRC-HIA and the International Telescope Agreements. Footnote 65

One specific external study used in the evaluation was the 2011 Astronomy in Canada Study, a report prepared by Hickling Arthurs Low (HAL) for NRC. This study formed the basis of two distinct lines of evidence for the evaluation:

  • Socio-Economic Impact Study: The study assessed the socio-economic benefits and impacts stemming from Canadian investments in Gemini and ALMA, and presents profiles of firms involved in telescope instrumentation contracts and the subsequent commercial benefits. This study contributed to the evaluation’s assessment of the extent to which Canada’s participation in the International Telescope Agreements enabled the participation of Canadian industry in the development of telescope instrumentation, and whether any unintended (positive or negative) outcomes had occurred as a result of Canada’s participation in the program.
  • International Comparison Study: The study compared Canadian astronomy research against that of five countries (U.S., U.K., France, Netherlands and Australia) in terms of levels of investment, activity and performance; access to ground and space-based observatories; and domestic industrial capabilities. This work provided a comparative element in assessing the extent to which NRC’s current role in delivering the program is appropriate, and consistent with federal roles and responsibilities; the extent to which Canada’s participation in the International Telescope Agreements generated scientific benefits to the Canadian and worldwide communities; whether NRC-HIA’s resources in support of the administration of the International Telescope Agreements have been used in an economic manner; and whether Canada’s International Telescope Agreements are administered in an efficient manner. Information on the peer review / time allocation process of comparator countries was supplemented through a web-based search and phone consultations with time allocation committee representatives from selected countries (i.e., the UK, USA, and Australia).

There were minimal challenges experienced in the review of documents; identification and acquisition of documents was facilitated by the co-conduct of the NRC commissioned Astronomy in Canada Study, in which a thorough document review was conducted. One noteworthy limitation of the external document review is the absence of literature on the scientific impact of Canadian ground-based astronomy relative to that of other countries; information on Canada’s ranking in terms of scientific impact for astronomy in general was therefore used as a proxy. Conclusions from other lines of evidence were consistent with the conclusions drawn from the proxy indicator, and thus there were no threats to the validity of this measure.

Administrative and Performance Data Review

Administrative and program performance data for 2006-10 to 2010-11 were reviewed to provide information on program outputs and contribute to the analysis of program need (e.g., telescope oversubscription rates) and achievement of expected outcomes (i.e., the extent to which scientific benefits have been achieved; the extent to which participation in the telescopes has allowed Canadian industry to contribute to the development of telescope instrumentation). The performance and administrative data were also used to assess program efficiency and economy in conjunction with other lines of evidence. Administrative and performance data were provided by staff at NRC-HIA and by external organizations such as CASCA and each of the telescopes.

The data reviewed also included financial information (i.e., the direct cost associated with paying the contribution agreements to each of the four telescopes), as well as NRC-HIA’s total operating expenditures. NRC-HIA also provided estimates of the average costs incurred in the administration of the telescopes agreements (i.e., the salary and operating costs for program support such as management and staff time and associated activities such as costs incurred in the operation of the Canadian Time Allocation Committee). Given that the costs associated with administering the program and the associated activities are not recorded in a formal manner by NRC-HIA, estimates of these costs were generated and used. The use of estimates, while providing a proxy for unavailable information, suffers from potentially being an overestimate or underestimate. Additionally, because the costs associated with the administration of the International Telescope Agreements Program were estimated and could not be tracked on a yearly basis, trend analysis could not be assessed as was originally anticipated in regards to program efficiency.

Other data provided from NRC-HIA included records on the recipients of NSERC travel grants (prior to its cancelation); CADC usage rates; Canadian subscription rates; information on knowledge transfer or impact on industry regarding telescope related contracts; NRC-HIA staff participation on international committees; international awards and recognition of members of the Canadian astronomy community; and NRC-HIA public outreach data.

Telescope directors provided instrumentation contract data (with the exception of JCMT, in which there was no instrumentation contracts that had occurred during the evaluation time period), as well as the subscription rates for partner countries of Gemini, JCMT, and CFHT. Finally, data from CASCA on their yearly membership statistics was received and used in assessing changes in the size of the user community. Given that CASCA membership includes both ground-based and space-based astronomers, which could not be separated out, this data was used as a proxy measure only. The inability to separate out the number of ground-based versus space-based astronomers reflects the changing nature of the astronomy community. Historically, astronomers were categorized by the wavelength or telescopes they used (e.g., radio versus millimeter astronomy; space versus ground based). However, increasingly astronomers are combining observations from many telescopes, taking a multi-wavelength / multi-telescope approach, to answer their research questions. As a result, the distinction between ground-based and space-based astronomers is decreasing.

Key Informant Interviews

Conducting interviews with key informants is an essential element of an evaluation methodology. The information gathered through the qualitative, semi-structured interview process was based on personal experiences, opinions and expert knowledge. This information plays an important role in contextualizing performance data and other statistics.

Interviews were conducted either in-person or by telephone. Each interview lasted between 45 minutes and 1.5 hours and was conducted using an interview guide. Interview guides provided the common questions to be asked of each interviewee thus ensuring that the same issues were addressed by all relevant interviewees. All interviewees received the interview guide in advance of the interview.

A total of 33 interviews were conducted with NRC management and staff, as well as other stakeholders of the International Telescope Agreements (see Table 1). Interviewees were selected in consultation with Methodological and Subject Matter Experts. Of all of the interviewees contacted from the astronomy community for participation in the evaluation, only two did not respond; thus, an additional two members of the astronomy community were recruited for participation. In order to ensure that all stakeholder groups were adequately represented in the pool of informants, the evaluation team made an effort to include theoreticians and space-based astronomers who make use of data from ground-based facilities as well as observational ground-based astronomers.

In order to minimize burden on the astronomy community, the evaluation team capitalized on the interviews undertaken as part of the NRC commissioned Astronomy in Canada Study. The evaluation team generated questions for inclusion in interviews with the directors / executives of each of the four telescopes (ALMA, Gemini, CFHT, and JCMT) as well as with five industrial companies who worked on the development of telescope instrumentation with NRC-HIA. While HAL also conducted interviews with representatives from ACURA and CASCA as part of the Astronomy in Canada Study, evaluation specific questions were not included since first hand interviews by the evaluators with these stakeholders were deemed to be necessary. In addition to the five industrial companies that HAL interviewed, the evaluation team interviewed representatives from an additional two companies.

Table 1: Breakdown of Key Informants Interviewed
Interviewee Type Number of Interviewees
NRC-HIA management and staff 8
External members of the astronomy community 11
Telescope directors 4
Industry partners 7
International astronomy representatives 3

Survey of the User Community

In order to simultaneously collect data on the relevance of the International Telescope Agreements and on the achievement of expected outcomes, a web survey was developed and distributed to members of the astronomy community who were users of the facilities (i.e., ground-based observational astronomers Footnote 66). The survey was sent to the astronomy community via two distribution routes: 1) CASCA’s membership list through the CASCA Exploder ListServ; and 2) to the list of Principal Investigators (PIs) who had submitted a proposal to the Canadian Time Allocation Committee for telescope time between 2005-06 and 2010-11. The two different approaches were necessary because: 1) not all of those who apply for telescope access are members of CASCA (thus requiring the list of those who had applied as a principal investigator); and 2) not all users of the telescopes have been PIs, yet they have used the telescope as part of a research team (thus requiring the distribution through CASCA).

While there was some overlap between the CASCA membership list and the Canadian Time Allocation Committee’s list of principal investigators, CASCA did not share its membership list from which the two sources of contact information could be compared to identify duplicates. Therefore, some may have received requests for participation through the two channels. Similarly, the population of observational ground-based astronomers could not be accurately discerned as the number or proportion of observational ground-based astronomers could not be separated out from statistics on the number of astronomers in the Canadian astronomy community. As was highlighted earlier, this is in part due to changes in the nature of the astronomy community, whereby astronomers are increasingly combining observations from many telescopes to answer their research questions, and no longer classify themselves as ground- or space-based astronomers. Because the actual number of duplicates and the overall number of individuals making up the population could not be identified, the survey response rate could not be calculated. While this affects the degree to which confidence can be placed on the findings from the survey, the use of mixed methods and the presence of corroborating evidence from other lines of evidence helped to mitigate the uncertainty in sample representativeness. As such, survey findings were deemed valid.

Survey respondents received an email from the Director of the NRC Office of Audit and Evaluation inviting them to participate. Where PIs received an invitation email directly from the Director, Office of Audit and Evaluation, individuals reached through the CASCA Exploder ListServ received an invite sent on behalf of the Director, Office of Audit and Evaluation from an NRC-HIA CASCA member. The survey was open for a two week period. A reminder was sent three days before the close of the survey.

Of those receiving an invite to participate, 184 respondents began the survey, with 165 being from the desired population (i.e., engage in ground-based observational research that requires access to data obtained from optical/infrared or millimeter / submillimeter telescopes). Of the 165 ground-based astronomer respondents, 34 did not complete the entire survey. Sixteen of these cases were deleted because only the first three questions of the survey had been answered while the remaining 18 were included in the final sample in order to maximize sample size Footnote 67. The final sample was therefore composed of 149 respondents.

Of the 149 survey respondents, 92 % had had access to at least one of the international telescopes in which Canada is a partner (CFHT, JCMT, Gemini North, and / or Gemini South) in the last five years or prior to that. The majority of respondents (70%) indicated that they had applied for time as a PI in the last five years. Of those who applied as a PI, 92% were awarded time on at least one of the telescopes they had applied for time on (see Table 2).

Table 2: Telescopes on which Principal Investigators were Awarded Time on between 2005-06 and 2009-10
Telescope Number of PIs
Gemini North 37
Gemini South 39
CFHT 46
JCMT 29
Not awarded time on Gemini, CFHT, and / or JCMT 8

Note: respondents could select all telescopes on which they were awarded time on.

More than half of survey respondents represented Canadian universities (64.9%). The remaining respondents represented Canadian government (19.8%); foreign universities (3.8%); foreign governments (7.6%) or other (3.8%). University-based respondents represented faculty / staff member (60%); graduate student (24.4%); post doctoral fellow (10%); and other (5.6%; e.g., Emeritus professor; retired faculty; research associate).

Appendix C – Overview of Canada’s Offshore Telescopes

The National Research Council Act mandates NRC with the operation and administration of any astronomical observatories established or maintained by the Government of Canada. Footnote 68 This mandate is carried out by NRC-HIA, which, in addition to operating Canada’s two domestic observatories, Footnote 69 manages Canada’s participation in four major ground-based international observatories:

  • the Canada-France-Hawaii Telescope;
  • the James Clerk Maxwell Telescope;
  • the twin Gemini Telescopes; and
  • the Atacama Large Millimetre Array.

Adherence to these international observatories is paid for through transfer payments, in accordance with the Terms and Conditions for the International Telescope Agreements. A summary of each telescope is presented in Table 3, followed by a more detailed description.

CFHT JCMT Gemini ALMA
Telescope Type / Specialization Optical-InfraRed (3.6-metre) Sub-millimetre(15 metre) Optical-InfraRed (twin 8-metre) Sub-millimetre
Start of Funding Agreement 1974 1989 1993 2009
Date Telescope became Operational 1979 1987 2000 / 2001 (North / South) Early science operational start late 2011
Canada’s Share 42.5% 25% 15% 7.25% of North American share (38.75%) or 2.8% overall
Partners France (42.5%) and the State of Hawaii (15%) U.K (55%) and Netherlands (20%) U.S. (50.1%), U.K. (23.8%) Footnote 70, Canada (15.0%t), Australia (6.2%), Brazil (2.5%), and Argentina (2.4%) Footnote 71 Europe (37.5%), North America (37.5%) and East Asia (25%), in cooperation with the Republic of Chile
Executing Agency CFHT Corporation - a not for profit corporation Science and Technology Facilities Council (STFC) Footnote 72 National Science Foundation (NSF) oversees managing organization the Association of Universities for Research in Astronomy (AURA) National Science Foundation (NSF). The NSF oversees the managing organization, the Associated Universities Inc.
Governance Board of Directors manages & controls affairs of CFHT. Scientific Advisory Council provides guidance and input on scientific directions. JCMT Board oversees operation of facilities & endeavors to stay at forefront of astronomy. Operated by the Joint Astronomy Center (JAC), an establishment of UK’s STFC Gemini Board supervises and regulates Gemini. NSF acts on behalf of Board to arrange for carrying out of Gemini. AURA manages everyday affairs. Governance for ALMA vested in the ALMA Board, which is advised by an international ALMA Management Advisory Committee and an ALMA Science Advisory Committee.
Duration No fixed termination date ; Dissolution provided for in by-laws. Agreement scheduled to end March 31st 2012, unless extended. Footnote 73 Agreement scheduled to end December 31, 2015. The ALMA Bilaterial Agreement signed between the NSF and the European Southern Observatory (ESO) expires no sooner than December 31, 2021. The NRC-NSF MOU expires on the same date that the ALMA Bilateral Agreement expires. NRC’s funding agreement with the NSF expires in December 2015 unless extended.

1. Canada-France-Hawaii Telescope (CFHT)

Overview of CFHT

The Canada-France-Hawaii Telescope (CFHT) is a 3.6 meter optical/infrared telescope, located atop the summit of Mauna Kea, a 4200 meter, dormant volcano on the island of Hawaii. The CFHT became operational in 1979 and is owned and operated by Canada (42.5 percent), France (42.5 percent) and the State of Hawaii (15 percent). According to the Long Range Plan 2010, the CFHT was Canada’s first internationally competitive facility and later became the leading 4 metre-class telescope in the world. The Agreement has no fixed termination date and dissolution would have to come via an Amendment to the Agreement. Footnote 74 In order to terminate the Agreement, one of the Parties must provide notice of not less than two years to the other Parties expressing the intent to withdraw.

CFHT Governance

The CFHT was incorporated in 1974 by the three founding partners: Canada, France and the state of Hawaii. CFHT is governed by a Board of ten Directors: four appointed by NRC, four by the Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique (CNRS) of France, and two by the University of Hawaii. The Board appoints the Executive Director of the Corporation who serves as the executive officer of the Corporation. There is one face-to-face meeting each year. A special Committee of the Board meets electronically (or in person as needed) in mid-year to deal with emergent issues. Updates on Observatory activities and matters of partner interest are sent by the Executive Director to the Board on a quarterly basis. Footnote 75

The Scientific Advisory Council (SAC) provides advice to the Board of Directors and to the Executive Director concerning scientific and technical matters related to the aims of the Corporation. The SAC has ten members appointed by the Board of Directors: four members designated by NRC, four members designated by the CNRS of France, and two members designated by the University of Hawaii. Footnote 76

As a non-profit corporation in the state of Hawaii, CFHT is able to operate at arm’s-length from its founding partners. This gives CFHT the flexibility to have its own bylaws and regulations, issue contracts for new instruments, upgrades and all other operational and developmental needs without requiring a third-party to handle the transaction. As a legal entity, CFHT can change its human resources to meet evolving needs and collaborate with other organizations. Footnote 77

CFHT Time Allocation

Access to the CFHT is based on the contribution by each of the three founding partners. Each of the three founding partners has a Time Allocation Committee (TAC) which ranks their observing proposals. The CFHT, in consultation with the three TAC Chairs, allocates the nights based on the contribution of each partner. CFHT uses the queue based approach to observing, which rely upon the Observatory staff conducting researchers’ observations by executing pre-programmed scripts that are designed by the researcher to define, in detail, how a program should be carried out. When appropriate to the study in question, a queue‐based model makes more efficient use of highly oversubscribed observing time (e.g., best seeing conditions or relatively rare low-water-vapour conditions). In addition to the partner countries (i.e., Canada, France, Hawaii), CFHT has agreements with Taiwan and Brazil, and is about to enter into an agreement with China in which time on the telescope is exchanged for cash and in-kind contributions toward the development of new CFHT capabilities. With the addition of China, it is anticipated that these three countries will use around 20-22 nights per semester. The additional contribution from these three countries allows the observatory to add new capabilities with a minimal cost-impact on the existing partners. Footnote 78

2. James Clerk Maxwell Telescope (JCMT)

Overview of JCMT

The James Clerk Maxwell Telescope (JCMT), with a diameter of 15 metres, is currently the world’s largest single dish telescope operating in the sub-millimetre region of the spectrum, and is situated close to the summit of Mauna Kea, Hawaii. The JCMT was opened in April 1987 and is operated as a partnership between the United Kingdom (U.K.), Canada and the Netherlands which, respectively, contribute 55, 25 and 20 percent to its operations. Footnote 79 The JCMT Agreement by which Canada commits to fund the Observatory was signed in 1989. According to the LRP2010, the JCMT is arguably the most powerful ground-based sub-millimetre observatory in the world, and will remain so until the Atacama Large Millimetre/Sub-millimetre Array (ALMA) becomes operational.

SCUBA-2 (Sub-millimetre Common-User Bolometer Array) is an updated wide-field camera built to enhance the capabilities of JCMT, whose original SCUBA saw first light in 1987. With a much larger field-of-view and sky-background limited sensitivity, SCUBA-2 will be used to map large areas of sky up to 1000 times faster than the current SCUBA camera, and will benefit a range of areas of astronomy. Despite only having begun to carry out science in 2010, the operational life of SCUBA-2 is uncertain as it is not clear how much longer the JCMT partnership will last. The UK has indicated that they will operate JCMT through to the end of 2013, at least. The Netherlands announced in August 2011 that they will no longer remain a partner in the JCMT beyond the end of the current funding arrangements Footnote 80. The Netherlands is expected to withdraw from JCMT in March 2013. According to the JCMT Agreement, if a partner wishes to withdraw it must provide two years notice. Footnote 81 Canada has agreed to provide support to March 31, 2013 and beyond that, to September 30, 2014 contingent on a particular funding model that is under discussion with the UK. The latter date provides the Canadian community three years of scientific observation with SCUBA-2 fully functional.

JCMT Governance

The JCMT is operated by the Joint Astronomy Centre (JAC) which also operates the United Kingdom Infrared Telescope (UKIRT). The JAC (as well as the JCMT and UKIRT) is an establishment of the Science and Technology Facilities Council (STFC) of the UK. STFC provides funds to the JAC for UKIRT and for the UK share of the JCMT. The JAC also receives contributions from NRC and the Netherlands Organisation for Scientific Research towards operation of the JCMT. The STFC, which owns the assets of the JCMT, acts as an “executive” for the JCMT partnership. Footnote 82

The JCMT is overseen by a Board of nine: four members appointed by the UK, two by Canada, two by the Netherlands and one by the University of Hawaii. The JCMT Board oversees everything; e.g., there is no science or finance committee as with other telescopes. Footnote 83

JCMT Allocation of Time

Access to the JCMT is split according to the contribution of the three partners (i.e., the U.K.,Canada, and Netherlands). As the host, the University of Hawaii is given observing time by the three partners. All observing time, except the University of Hawaii Footnote 84, is allocated by JCMT’s ITAC (International Time Allocation Committee) on the basis of scientific merit and technical feasibility. National Time Allocation Groups for each country referee, assess and approve allocations for applications from their own countries. These time allocations are later combined and awarded by the ITAC. The ITAC is composed of a member from the national time allocation groups plus one additional member from the UK. Footnote 85

The three partners (UK, Canada, and Netherlands) agree to commit some of their time to other countries if there is scientific merit. There is no quota for these other countries, as it is based on scientific merit. Applications from outside the partner countries are assessed and approved by the ITAC. Footnote 86

3. Gemini Telescope

Overview of Gemini

The Gemini Observatory consists of twin 8.1-metre diameter optical/infrared telescopes located on mountains in Hawaii (Gemini North, operational since 2000) and Chile (Gemini South, operational since 2001). Gemini is currently operated by a partnership of six countries including the United States (U.S., 50.1 percent), U.K. (23.8 percent), Canada (15.0 percent), and smaller shares for Australia (6.2 percent), Brazil (2.5 percent), and Argentina (2.4 percent). Footnote 87

The current Gemini Agreement formally ends on December 31, 2015 The U.K. has announced its intention to withdraw from Gemini on January 1st, 2013. The UK share will be distributed among the remaining Parties, as agreed to by the Gemini Board. Under the international agreement, if a partner withdraws more than two years before the end of the agreement, a significant financial penalty is applied to the withdrawing partner. Footnote 88

Gemini Governance

In 1993 the US, UK, Canada, Chile, Argentina, and Brazil came together to form the government-to-government international Gemini Partnership. The current partners are the US, the UK, Canada, Australia, Brazil, Chile and Argentina. The Gemini Observatory is operated by Association of Universities for Research in Astronomy (AURA) Inc., under a cooperative agreement with the National Science Foundation (NSF) on behalf of the Gemini partnership. The AURA Oversight Committee-Gemini provides oversight and advocacy for the management of the Gemini Observatory.

Gemini is governed by a Board of ten voting and two non-voting Directors: four from the US, two each from Canada and the UK, and one from Australia. Technically, Brazil and Argentina share one voting seat on the Board; in practice they each have an attending member. In addition, the “host” states, Chile and the State of Hawaii (University of Hawaii) each have a seat on the Board but are normally not permitted to vote on budget items (because they do not contribute to the budget). The Board sets budgetary policy bounds for the Observatory and carries out broad oversight functions as defined in the inter-agency Agreement. The Gemini Board has reserved the right to approve the appointments of the Gemini Director and Associate Directors for Gemini North and South Footnote 89.

The Gemini Finance Committee (GFC) has recently been restructured with new Terms of Reference. The membership is intended to be drawn from the Board, but both Brazil and Australia have elected to appoint non-Board members to the GFC. The GFC advises the Gemini Board on financial, budget and long range plan issues for the Gemini Observatory. Footnote 90

The Gemini Science and Technology Advisory Committee is responsible for advising the Observatory Board and Management on science requirements for the facility, including advice on policy matters of long range scientific and technical importance and on scientific plans and priorities. It normally meets twice a year or more frequently at the request of the Board. Footnote 91

Gemini Time Allocation

Access to Gemini, as noted in Table 13, is allocated according to the financial contribution of each partner less a small proportion which is set aside for the two hosts: Hawaii and Chile. Each country is responsible for receiving and assessing observing proposals from their communities. Proposals must be spread over the observing bands, essentially weather conditions, defined by Gemini. The ranked proposals are then submitted to the Observatory’s ITAC. Footnote 92

Gemini’s International Time Allocation Committee (ITAC) consists of representatives from the national time allocation committees and the Observatory itself. The ITAC, which is chaired by a Gemini senior-level scientist, meets twice a year to consider joint and conflicting proposals identified in the merging process, and to recommend the programs for execution in queue and classical modes. The ITAC merges the different country requests for observing time using an algorithm that ensures each country gets time according to their share. If the ITAC is unable to resolve competing demands, then the Gemini Director decides. Footnote 93

Similar to CFHT, Gemini uses queue based operations which rely upon the Observatory staff conducting researchers’ observations by executing pre-programmed scripts that are designed by the researcher to define, in detail, how a program should be carried out. Footnote 94

4. Atacama Large Millimetre/Sub-millimetre Array (ALMA)

Overview of ALMA

The Atacama Large Millimetre/Sub-millimetre Array (ALMA) is situated at an altitude of 5000m on the Chajnantor plain of the Chilean high desert, one of the best sites on the planet for sub-millimetre observing. It is being built by an international partnership of Europe Footnote 95 (37.5 percent), North America Footnote 96 (37.5 percent) and East Asia Footnote 97 (25 percent), in cooperation with the Republic of Chile. Canada’s share of the project is 7.25% of the North American share, or 2.8% overall. ALMA will be completed in 2013, with early science observations utilizing a subset of the array beginning in late 2011.

At a total project cost of approximately $1.3B (US), the observatory brings together new leading-edge antenna and receiver technology that will allow detection of molecular radiation 10-100 times fainter than current limits. In addition to this increase in sensitivity, ALMA will also provide exceptional resolution on the sky. Despite observing at a vastly longer wavelength than next generation giant optical telescopes like the Thirty Metre Telescope (TMT), the spatial resolution will be similar - resolving a hair's width at a distance of over 2 km. These advances in resolution and sensitivity have been made possible by ALMA using a reconfigurable array of 66 dish antennas that work together in different configurations. ALMA is viewed as being a powerful and flexible instrument that will be used to address a wide range of scientific questions, from planet formation to cosmology. Footnote 98

Participation by North America and Europe in ALMA is governed by the “Agreement Concerning the Joint Construction and Operation of the Atacama Large Millimeter Array” between NSF and ESO on February 25, 2003, and amendments (the “ALMA Bilateral Agreement).

NRC has signed two Memoranda of Understanding (MOUs) related to the ALMA project - with the National Radio Astronomy Observatory (NRAO) called the North American Program in Radio Astronomy (NAPRA), which sets out a broader framework for Canada-U.S. cooperation in radio astronomy, Footnote 99 and with the National Science Foundation (NSF) that defines Canada's obligations and benefits within the ALMA project. Under the terms of the MOU signed by NRC and NSF in June 2003, NRC participates in ALMA as a collaborator with NSF under the terms of the ALMA Bilaterial Agreement, providing in-kind contributions in support of ALMA on behalf of Canada. As well, a funding agreement was signed by NRC and the NSF in March 2009 whereby NRC commits to make contribution payments to the NSF to support ALMA operations.

The ALMA Bilateral Agreement signed between NSF and ESO, which became effective on February 25, 2003, expires no sooner than 31 December 2021. At pre-agreed assessment points, NSF and ESO decide whether to extend the ALMA Bilateral Agreement for a further period, normally of at least 5 years duration. The first assessment point is 5 January 2018. Subsequent assessment points shall be on 5 January at succeeding 5-year intervals unless otherwise agreed by NSF and ESO. In the absence of a decision at an assessment point, the ALMA Bilateral Agreement will expire at the last expiration date set. The NRC-NSF MOU expires on the same date that the ALMA Bilateral Agreement expires. Footnote 100 NRC’s funding agreement signed in 2009 with NSF expires in December 2015 and will be extended or revised as necessary to remain consistent with the precepts of the NRC-NSF MOU and in light of the experience gained in operating ALMA.

ALMA Governance

ALMA governance is complex because of the historical development of ALMA as three separate projects. It is a joint venture among three agencies: NSF in the US, ESO, and the National Institutes of Natural Sciences Footnote 101 (NINS) in Japan. The ALMA Board includes the two signatories to the original ALMA bilateral agreement (or joint venture) between the NSF and ESO, also referred to as ALMA-b. A subsidiary agreement between ALMA-b and Japan’s NINS created an expanded joint venture known as ALMA-e. Today, the common use of the term ALMA refers to ALMA-e. The ALMA Board has five seats appointed by the NSF, five appointed by the ESO, and four appointed by NINS. The NSF has formed a “North American” consortium through a subsidiary agreement with Canada which specifies that one of the NSF seats will be assigned to the NRC. Footnote 102 The primary governance for the ALMA Project is vested in the ALMA Board. It is the primary forum for interactions among participating agencies, and for the decisions concerning ALMA. The Board is not a legal entity. The Board is advised by an international ALMA Management Advisory Committee (AMAC) and an international ALMA Science Advisory Committee (ASAC).

  • The AMAC provides advice on the major issues presented to it by the ALMA Board regarding the technical program, cost, and management of the ALMA project. Similar to the ALMA Board, the appointment of AMAC members from North America is at the discretion of the NSF. Footnote 103
  • The ASAC provides scientific advice to the ALMA Board and is composed of representatives of the Chile, East Asia, European and North American astronomical communities. There is also the ALMA North American Scientific Advisory Committee (ANASAC) which provides scientific advice to the NRAO director, the ALMA European Scientific Advisory Committee and the ALMA Japanese Scientific Advisory Committee (JSAC). Although the appointment of ASAC members from North America is also at the discretion of the NSF, as a general rule, the advisory committees are selected on the basis of individual talent, knowledge and experience rather than institutional affiliation. Footnote 104

ALMA construction and operations are led on behalf of Europe by ESO, on behalf of NINS by the National Astronomical Observatory of Japan (NAOJ), and on behalf of North America by the NRAO, which is managed by AUI. The AUI is a legal entity and has the authority to issue contracts. The AUI, NAOJ and ESO are “executives” of ALMA because the actual work is executed by these entities or their partners and contractors. The leadership of these bodies constitutes the “Directors Council”, which is also part of the ALMA governance structure for operational matters. Footnote 105

ALMA Time allocation

When ALMA is operational, observing time will be based on the contribution of each region. Footnote 106 The ALMA Time Allocation Committee and the processes by which scientists from the ALMA partner countries are allocated observing time will be established by the Board establishes the Committee. The NRC-NSF MOU as well as the funding agreement provides for a Canadian representative to take part in the time allocation process.

Appendix D – International Telescope Agreements Umbrella Logic Model

Activities

Activity #1

Provide collaborative leadership in developing new opportunities for Canadian participation in next generation observatories.

Activity #2

Administer Canada’s share of the three telescopes (budget and operations).

Outputs

Agreements negotiated and administered.

Board meetings attended.

Budget managed.

Activity #3

Administer the time allocation process for Canadian researchers at the telescopes.

Outputs

Peer review processes administered.

Time allocations to Canadian researchers.

Canadian users of the telescopes.

Activity #4

Provide personnel at the telescopes.

Outputs

Provide personnel at the telescopes, supported by HIA.

Activity #5

Maintain engineering and technical capability to participate in development of observatories.

Outputs

Instruments and technology for the telescopes developed.

Activity #6

Assist with observational and post observational data analysis.

Outputs

Assistance provided.

Activity #7

Maintain Canadian Astronomy Data Centre (CADC) archive and distribute data from all three telescopes.

Outputs

CADC updated and data reports prepared and distributed.

Activity #8

Participate in telescope governance meetings.

Activity #9

Participate in and attend scientific meetings to represent HIA, NRC and telescopes.

Outputs

Meetings attended.

Presentations given.

NRC-HIA presence at meetings.

Outcomes

Immediate

Access to forefront facilities and technology is provided to Canadian astronomers.

Facilities are made available to qualified students and post-doctoral researchers so they can advance their training.

New technologies are developed as part of the elaboration of new concepts for new telescopes and instruments.

Timely publication of results is facilitated.

Telescope data is effectively used.

Intermediate

Canada plays a prominent role in international, scientific endeavors.

Scientific benefit of telescopes to the Canadian and worldwide community is maximized.

Canadian industry has increased opportunities to participate in advanced scientific projects, and increased opportunities to benefit.

New technology is transferred to industry.

Ultimate

Knowledge about the universe and the objects within is acquired.

Canada’s position among the world’s leaders in astronomy is enhanced and sustained.

Canadian industry is afforded equitable footing with other nationals of Canada’s partners in telescope programs.

Appendix E –Program Financial Model

Found within this appendix is the supplementary financial information referred to in the body of the evaluation report. Table 4, below, presents the proportion of time, and estimated salary and operational costs associated with NRC-HIA activities in the administration of the International Telescope Agreements Program.

Activity Description Percentage of time involved on telescope file (if applicable) Estimated yearly costs (salary and operational) Table Appendix E note 1
Director General’s Office 25% $87
Finance/Purchasing and Administrative Overhead 4% $7
Canadian Gemini Office Footnote 107 79% $395
Millimetre Astronomy Group Footnote 108 84% $497
Costs related to Time Allocation Process 12% $88
Resident Astronomer Contracts (JCMT)Table Appendix E note 3 n/a $450
Resident Astronomer Contracts (CFHT)Table Appendix E note 3 n/a $418
Staffing in lieu of resident astronomer contracts (JCMT)Table Appendix E note 4 n/a $0
Maintain Canadian Astronomy Data Centre (CADC) archiving and distribute data from all three telescopesTable Appendix E note 2 71% $940
Director, Operational Support for the National Facilities in Astronomy (Telescope Access) 10% $21
Total $2,903

Table notes

Note 1

Direct salary costs use 2010-11 data based on percentage of time and does not include 20% premium for employee benefits.

Return to table Appendix E note 1 referrer

Note 2

CADC adjusted for revenue received.

Return to table Appendix E note 2 referrer

Note 3

Resident Astronomer contract amounts based on 2010-11 expenditure.

Return to table Appendix E note 3 referrer

Note 4

As of 2009-10 NRC-HIA no longer sends astronomers to JCMT and fulfills the obligation to provide observatory support staff through the use of resident astronomer contracts only as opposed to a combination of the both as was the case in the past.

Return to table Appendix E note 4 referrer

Appendix F –Selection of Documents Reviewed

Association of Universities for Research in Astronomy, Inc. 2007. Annual Progress Report and Program Plan of the Gemini Observatory.

Association of Canadian Universities for Research in Astronomy, in collaboration with the Canadian Astronomy Long Range Plan 2010 Panel. 2010. Report for a workshop on the governance of national astronomical facilities.

Autio, E., Hameri, A., and Vuola, O. 2004. A Framework of industrial knowledge spillovers in big-science centers, Research Policy, 33, 107–126.

Canada –France-Hawaii Corporation. 2007. Annual Report Canada - France - Hawaii Telescope.

Canadian Astronomical Society (CASCA ). 2000. The Long Range Plan for Astronomy and Astrophysics by the Canadian Astronomical Society (CASCA): The Origins of Structure in the Universe.

Canadian Astronomical Society (CASCA). 2010. Unveiling the Cosmos: A Vision for Canadian Astronomy 2010-2020.

Committee for a Decadal Survey of Astronomy and Astrophysics Board on Physics and Astronomy Space Studies Board Division on Engineering and Physical Sciences National Research Council of the National Academies. 2010. New Worlds New Horizons in Astronomy and Astrophysics.

Crabtree, D. 2009. LRP 2010 White paper on the scientific impact of Canadian astronomy.

Crampton, D., Hovey,G., Seifried, S., and Sedun, G. 2010. Canadian astronomy instrumentation and industry.

Doern, G.B., Levesque, R. (2002). The National Research Council in the innovation policy era: changing hierarchies, networks and markets, University of Toronto Press, pg., 104-115

Fontana, A., and Perna, C. 2005. Report on the Management of European Astronomy.

Government of Canada. 2007. Mobilizing science and technology to Canada’s advantage.

Hand, E. 2009. The world's top ten telescopes revealed; The best observatories ranked by their scientific impact. NatureNews (online).

Harwit, M. Menten K., Smail, I., and Wilson, C. 2005. Report of the review panel to the JCMT board.

Hickling Arthurs Low. 2011. Astronomy in Canada

Hutchings, J.B., Brown, J., Davidge, T., Holder, G., Kothes, R. Venn, K., Webb, T., Willott, C. 2010. Report to the LRP by the ground based astronomy committee.

International Review Committee. 2008. Peer review of NRC’s Herzberg Institute of Astrophysics.

Madrid, J., and Macchetto, F.D. 2009. High-impact astronomical observatories National Committee for Astronomy of the Australian Academy of Science. 2005. New Horizons -- A Decadal Plan for Australian Astronomy 2006 – 2015.

National Research Council Strategy and Development Planning and Performance Directorate. 2007 Evaluation of the Herzberg Institute of Astrophysics’ implementation of the Long Range Plan for Canadian astronomy and astrophysics.

Optical and Infrared Astronomy Committee (OIRAC). (2009). Optical and Infrared Astronomy Committee (OIRAC) Report to the CASCA Board.

Richer, H. 2010. LRP White paper on CFHT.

Science-Metrix. 2010. Performance and impact of Canadian research in astronomy & astrophysics : A bibliometric analysis (1998-2009).

Schade, D. 2010. CADC White paper for LRP committee.

Seaquist, E.R., 2005. Mid-Term Review of the Long Range Plan for Astronomy and Astrophysics – The origins and structure of the universe. A Report to the Canadian Astronomical Society.

The Coalition for Canadian Astronomy and the Working Group for Astronomy. 2006. Supporting Canada’s leadership role in astronomy: Untangling the web of public financing.

Trimblem V., and Ceja, J.A. 2008. Productivity and impact of astronomical facilities: Three years of publications and citation rates

Welch, D., Ellison, S., and Hanes, D. 2009. Report of the “Gemini assessment point” panel.

Wilson, C. 2110.The Atacama Millimeter/submllimeter Array (ALMA) white paper to the LRP 2010.

Footnotes

Footnote 1

National Research Council Act R.S. 1985, c-N-15, Section 5.

Return to footnote 1 referrer

Footnote 2

The Dominion Astrophysical Observatory (DAO) in Victoria and the Dominion Radio Astrophysical Observatory (DRAO) in Penticton both have functioning telescopes that are used for research programs, and also serve as test beds for new instrumentation concepts.

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Footnote 3

National Research Council Act R.S. 1985, c-N-15, Section 5 (1) (m)

Return to footnote 3 referrer

Footnote 4

The Dominion Astrophysical Observatory (DAO) in Victoria and the Dominion Radio Astrophysical Observatory (DRAO) in Penticton both have functioning telescopes that are used for research programs, and also serve as test beds for new instrumentation concepts.

Return to footnote 4 referrer

Footnote 5

Astronomy in Canada Study (2011); Hickling Arthurs Low (HAL) was commissioned by NRC to conduct the Astronomy in Canada Study in November 2010. The purpose of the study was to provide context for internal NRC discussions on astronomy in Canada as well as to provide background material for an evaluation of the International Telescope Agreements Program. The study sought to provide an overview of astronomy in Canada, including a description of the astronomical community, current investments in astronomy infrastructure, performance and impact of Canadian astronomy research. The methods used in support of this study included a document review, a review of data, key informant interviews, an international comparison study, and a socio-economic impact assessment.

Return to footnote 5 referrer

Footnote 6

The logic model presented is based on the logic model included in the program’s integrated RMAF / RBAF (2005), to which minor updates were made following consultations undertaken during the planning phase of this study.

Return to footnote 6 referrer

Footnote 7

As of 2011, ESO member countries include Belgium, Germany, France, the Netherlands, Sweden, Denmark, Switzerland, Italy, Portugal, the U.K., Finland, Spain, the Czech Republic, Austria, and Brazil.

Return to footnote 7 referrer

Footnote 8

ACURA is a consortium of 21 universities with interests in astronomy.

Return to footnote 8 referrer

Footnote 9

ALMA access is managed differently than the other three telescopes. Canadians apply to an ALMA TAC and compete for time within the entire pool that falls under the North American share of ALMA (i.e., 37.5% of the ALMA time). This process is viewed as more efficient because Canada’s interest (i.e., 7.25%) is closely similar to the relative population of astronomers that are competing for time.

Return to footnote 9 referrer

Footnote 10

As part of the Gemini International Partnership Agreement, NRC was obligated to provide Canada’s share of an instrumentation plan for Gemini, approved by the International Gemini Board in 2005. This Plan was recommended as one of the priorities in the Long-Range Plan Mid-term Review (2004).

Return to footnote 10 referrer

Footnote 11

This refers to the portion of the $10M annual reinvestment made to the budget of NRC-HIA used specifically to support the International Telescope Agreements. The remainder of the reinvestment is included elsewhere within the NRC-HIA budget.

Return to footnote 11 referrer

Footnote 12

NRC-HIA FY 2009-10 to 2011-12 Business Plan (2009)

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Footnote 13

Unveiling the Cosmos: A Vision for Canadian Astronomy 2010-2020 (2010)

Return to footnote 13 referrer

Footnote 14

Of the remaining 4%, 3% indicated that there would have been no impact on their research project in the absence of the program and 1% choose not to respond to the question.

Return to footnote 14 referrer

Footnote 15

Astronomy in Canada Study (2011)

Return to footnote 15 referrer

Footnote 16

The bulk (i.e., more than 90%) of astronomy research in Canada takes place at universities (Astronomy in Canada Study, 2011).

Return to footnote 16 referrer

Footnote 17

CASCA is the professional society of Canadian astronomers and astrophysicists. It includes over 90% of active Canadian astronomers, most graduate students and many post doctoral fellows.

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Footnote 18

Midterm review of the Origins of the Structure of the Universe , Long Range Plan 2000 (2004)

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Footnote 19

CFHT Annual Report (2007)

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Footnote 20

NRC-HIA FY 2009-10 to 2011-12 Business Plan (2009)

Return to footnote 20 referrer

Footnote 21

The telescopes operate on a semester system, where by the year is divided into two semesters, semester A (February to July) and semester B (August to January)

Return to footnote 21 referrer

Footnote 22

Optical and Infrared Astronomy Committee (OIRAC) Report to the CASCA Board (2009)

Return to footnote 22 referrer

Footnote 23

Data collection for the evaluation ended in the spring of 2011. As a result, subscription rates for JCMT, CFHT and Gemini are only reported until semester A 2011. Similarly, subscription rates for early science observing on ALMA were not available during the data collection phase and as such were deemed to be beyond the scope of the evaluation time period.

Return to footnote 23 referrer

Footnote 24

Survey of Canadian Gemini Users (2008) and evaluation key informant interviewees

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Footnote 25

JCMT was closed in 2006A for upgrades.

Return to footnote 25 referrer

Footnote 26

Astronomy in Canada study (2011); key informant interviews; evaluation survey data

Return to footnote 26 referrer

Footnote 27

Results from the Canadian Gemini Office Users’ Survey (2008)

Return to footnote 27 referrer

Footnote 28

New Worlds, New Horizons in Astronomy and Astrophysics (2010), http://books.nap.edu/openbook.php?record_id=12951

Return to footnote 28 referrer

Footnote 29

The National Research Council in the Innovation Policy Era: Changing Hierarchies, Networks and Markets (2002)

Return to footnote 29 referrer

Footnote 30

Astronomy in Canada Study (2011)

Return to footnote 30 referrer

Footnote 31

The Long Range Plan for Astronomy and Astrophysics by the Canadian Astronomical Society (2000)

Return to footnote 31 referrer

Footnote 32

Unveiling the Cosmos: A Vision for Canadian Astronomy 2010-2020 (2010)

Return to footnote 32 referrer

Footnote 33

Ibid

Return to footnote 33 referrer

Footnote 34

With the exception of JCMT, in which Canada bears no responsibility for decommissioning this telescope as it lies solely with the UK (source: external key informant interviews with telescope directors).

Return to footnote 34 referrer

Footnote 35

Budget 2010 -Leading the Way on Jobs and Growth(2010) and the Prime Minister’s Speech from the Throne (2010)

Return to footnote 35 referrer

Footnote 36

Astronomy in Canada Study (2011)

Return to footnote 36 referrer

Footnote 37

Performance and Impact of Canadian Research in Astronomy & Astrophysics: A Bibliometric Analysis [1998–2009] (2010)

Return to footnote 37 referrer

Footnote 38

Unveiling the Cosmos: A Vision for Canadian Astronomy 2010-2020 (2010)

Return to footnote 38 referrer

Footnote 39

NRC Strategy 2011-2031

Return to footnote 39 referrer

Footnote 40

National Research Council Act R.S. 1985, c-N-15, Section 5 (1) (m)

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Footnote 41

Integrated Results-Based Management Accountability Framework (RMAF) and Risk-Based Audit Framework (RBAF) for the Telescope Agreements (2005)

Return to footnote 41 referrer

Footnote 42

Astronomy in Canada Study (2011)

Return to footnote 42 referrer

Footnote 43

Working Group to Examine Funding Support for the Long Range Plan for Astronomy and Astrophysics (Phase 1 and 2 Report) (2005)

Return to footnote 43 referrer

Footnote 44

Peer Review of NRC’s Herzberg Institute of Astrophysics - Report of the International Review Committee (2008)

Return to footnote 44 referrer

Footnote 45

Unveiling the Cosmos: A Vision for Canadian Astronomy 2010-2020 (2010)

Return to footnote 45 referrer

Footnote 46

Ibid

Return to footnote 46 referrer

Footnote 47

Evaluation of the Herzberg Institute of Astrophysics’ Implementation of the Long Range Plan for Canadian Astronomy and Astrophysics (2007)

Return to footnote 47 referrer

Footnote 48

ACURA is an organization of Canadian universities dedicated to the advancement of research and teaching in astronomy and astrophysics in Canada. It assists in coordinating large-scale national initiatives of its member institutions, advocates for the priorities in the Long Range Plan for Astronomy, and is a liaison between Canadian member universities and international partners in international and world observatories ( ACURA website, )

Return to footnote 48 referrer

Footnote 49

NSERC’s role as a granting council is to provide financial support for research conducted by postsecondary professors, and postsecondary students and postdoctoral fellows in their advanced studies (NSERC website, ). CFI’s role is to invest up to 40% of project infrastructure costs in research infrastructure (state-of-the-art equipment, buildings, laboratories, and databases required to conduct research) in partnership with eligible institutions and their funding partners from the public, private, and voluntary sectors who provide the remainder (CFI website, ). CSA’s mandate is to promote the peaceful use and development of space, to advance the knowledge of space through science and to ensure that space science and technology provide social and economic benefits for Canadians (CSA website, ).

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Footnote 50

Unveiling the Cosmos: A Vision for Canadian Astronomy 2010-2020 (2010)

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Footnote 51

Science Watch; Interview with Christian Marois and Bruce Macintosh (March 2010)

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Footnote 52

Unveiling the Cosmos: A Vision for Canadian Astronomy 2010-2020 (2010); and Astronomy in Canada Study (2011)

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Footnote 53

Astronomy in Canada Study (2011)

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Footnote 54

Ibid

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Footnote 55

Seetheraman, D. (2009). Schwarzmann Sees Big Returns in Roller Coasters as cited in Unveiling the Cosmos: A Vision for Canadian Astronomy 2010-2020 (2010), pg. 174

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Footnote 56

Unveiling the Cosmos: A Vision for Canadian Astronomy 2010-2020 (2010)

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Footnote 57

Ibid

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Footnote 58

Ibid

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Footnote 59

Ibid

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Footnote 60

Astronomy in Canada Study (2011)

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Footnote 61

LRP White Paper on CFHT (2010)

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Footnote 62

Astronomy in Canada Study (2011)

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Footnote 63

Report of the “Gemini Assessment Point” Panel (2009)

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Footnote 64

Astronomy in Canada Study (2011)

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Footnote 65

Such studies include, but are not limited to: Astronomy in Canada, Hickling Arthurs Low (2011); Peer Review of NRC’s Herzberg Institute of Astrophysics (2008); and Evaluation of the Herzberg Institute of Astrophysics’ Implementation of the long Range Plan for Canadian Astronomy and Astrophysics (2007).

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Footnote 66

Indirect users of the international telescopes (i.e., theoreticians and space-based astronomers who draw on data from ground-based facilities in their research) were included in interviews to ensure that the needs and outcomes of the telescope access for all relevant stakeholders was captured and considered in the evaluation.

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Footnote 67

Missing data were largely limited to the 18 respondents who did not complete the survey and dropped out at various points. While there were some missing data for the optional survey questions, the vast majority of respondents provided a response.

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Footnote 68

National Research Council Act R.S. 1985, c-N-15, Section 5 (1) (m)

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Footnote 69

The Dominion Astrophysical Observatory (DAO) in Victoria and the Dominion Radio Astrophysical Observatory (DRAO) in Penticton both have functioning telescopes that are used for research programs, and also serve as test beds for new instrumentation concepts.

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Footnote 70

UK is expected to withdraw from this Agreement on January 1, 2012. The Parties have agreed to temporarily redistribute UK’s share among the participants. As a result, Canada’s share will increase to 18.65% for the period of 2012-2015.

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Footnote 71

Chile was originally a contributing partner at the five percent level, but in 2000 Chile withdrew as a regular partner and, with the agreement of the partnership, placed its capital contributions into a trust fund to support the development of Chilean astronomy. It maintained its ten percent share in Gemini South, as the host country, but freed up its five percent partner share. This share was absorbed by the consortium.

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Footnote 72

Prior to 2007, the executing agency was the Particle Physics & Astronomy Research Council was the p; In April 2007, the Particle Physics & Astronomy Research Council merged with the Council for the Central Laboratory of the Research Councils (CCLRC) and the nuclear physics portion of the EPSRC to form the new Science and Technology Facilities Council (STFC).

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Footnote 73

Canada has agreed to provide support for JCMT to March 31, 2013 and beyond that, to September 30, 2014 contingent upon a particular funding model that is under discussion with the UK.

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Footnote 74

Integrated RMAF / RBAF for the International Telescope Agreements

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Footnote 75

CFHT website

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Footnote 76

Ibid

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Footnote 77

Ibid

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Footnote 78

CFHT website and Astronomy in Canada Study (2011)

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Footnote 79

JCMT website

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Footnote 80

Notice from JCMT Board , August 4th 2011,

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Footnote 81

Astronomy in Canada (2011)

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Footnote 82

JCMT website and Astronomy in Canada Study (2011)

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Footnote 83

JCMT website

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Footnote 84

The University of Hawaii has an internal TAC that ranks their observing proposals. It then submits its recommended proposals into the same observing queues as the three partners.

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Footnote 85

JCMT website

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Footnote 86

Ibid

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Footnote 87

Chile was originally a contributing partner at the five percent level, but in 2000 Chile withdrew as a regular partner and, with the agreement of the partnership, placed its capital contributions into a trust fund to support the development of Chilean astronomy. It maintained its ten percent share in Gemini South, as the host country, but freed up its five percent partner share. This share was absorbed by the consortium.

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Footnote 88

Gemini website

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Footnote 89

Ibid

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Footnote 90

Astronomy in Canada study (2011)

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Footnote 91

Ibid

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Footnote 92

Gemini website

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Footnote 93

Ibid

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Footnote 94

Astronomy in Canada Study (2011)

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Footnote 95

Includes ESO member states.

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Footnote 96

Includes U.S.A and Canada

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Footnote 97

Includes Japan and Taiwan

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Footnote 98

The Atacama Millimeter/submllimeter Array (ALMA) White Paper to the LRP 2010 (2010)

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Footnote 99

Although not linked directly to ALMA, the Expanded Very Large Array (EVLA) correlator project, a collaboration between NRC-HIA and the National Radio Astronomy Observatory (NRAO), is also part of the NAPRA agreement.

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Footnote 100

Astronomy in Canada Study (2011)

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Footnote 101

NINS consists of five inter-university research institutes: NAOJ (National Astronomical Observatory of Japan), NIFS (National Institute for Fusion Science), NIBB (National Institute for Basic Biology), NIPS (National Institute for Physiological Sciences), and IMS (Institute for Molecular Science).

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Footnote 102

It was noted in the Astronomy in Canada Study (2011) that the North American consortium also includes Taiwan, who is contributing to the construction; its operational role has not yet been defined.

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Footnote 103

ALMA website

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Footnote 104

Ibid

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Footnote 105

Astronomy in Canada Study (2011)

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Footnote 106

ALMA website

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Footnote 107

Each of the seven partner countries in Gemini has a national office that provides support to Gemini users.

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Footnote 108

The Millimetere Astronomy Group provides in-kind support to the North American ALMA Research Center (NAASC) at NRAO-CV; they also provide support to the community through.

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