Comments on the jeopardy process

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Sent to R. McKeown Feb 4, 2019


Dear Bob,


We are writing to express our concerns with the implementation of the jeopardy review process for PAC 46 in 2019, as they were presented during our January 2019 JLUO Board meeting. As presented, three experiments which are nominally scheduled to undergo jeopardy review in PAC 46, as listed in the jeopardy policy set in September 2016, will have their review exempted or deferred. In each case, the reasoning was related to expectations of the future schedule, beyond the 18-month horizon which is released for public reference. 



By and large, the user community appreciates that the jeopardy process is a valuable method for evaluating scientific priorities in the evolving nuclear physics landscape. The Program Advisory Committee (PAC) provides advice from a broader community of nuclear physics, bringing a perspective beyond that of the user community and lab management. The PAC jeopardy process can identify proposed experiments, or specific parts of such proposals, that have lost relevance in the years since the last review, but the community expects it to be a constructive process to strengthen and focus the program, rather than simply an elimination system. In this spirit, we believe such a review will be beneficial for all eligible proposals, regardless of their current ranking. The process should reaffirm the importance of experiments which remain vital or have become more so and, given that the PAC sometimes advises on the importance of particular kinematics or background studies, it may even help focus individual experiments on the most crucial components of their proposed measurement.



The community will benefit most from a jeopardy process that is well defined and transparent. Changes to the process that may appear arbitrary undermine the sense in the user community that each proposal will receive fair and careful consideration, and challenge the faith in the user community that the process is being used to best optimize the physics program. 



The JLUO BoD believes you should consider this context when evaluating the benefits of deviations from the published jeopardy policy. In this case, a precedent for exempting experiments is being established. The reasoning should be documented for later reference, with the explanation including not just practical aspects of performing the review, but also why the independent PAC review is considered less useful for the exempted experiments. In this way, the community can be assured that the review will be consistently and fairly applied and that considerations of convenience are not compromising the value of the process. 



Best,

J.Roche, K. Kumar, W. Brooks, K. Paschke, I. Cloet, L. El Fassi, O. Hen, Y. Ilieva, C. Munoz Camacho, E. Pooser, and B. Sawatzky.