APS Scientific Advisory Committee Policy

Adopted 1/21/2003


The Scientific Advisory Committee (SAC) inherits and expands the role of the former Program Evaluation Board (PEB). It advises the Associate Laboratory Director for the APS (ALD/APS) with the following responsibilities:


  • To evaluate the scientific output and facility utilization for all APS sectors.
  • To examine performance and recommend appropriate beamtime allocation for existing Collaborative Access Teams (CATs).
  • To evaluate Letters of Intent and scientific proposals for new and reconstituted CATs.
  • To provide advice to and review decisions by APS management on special operations support for CATs.
  • To review proposals for Partner User access, a new access mode that will guarantee 10-30% the beam time per year on any sector for a finite period of time.
  • To assist the APS with development of policies and other issues as appropriate.


A sixteen-member board, constituted as follows:

  • Fourteen members, serving staggered two-year terms (renewable by mutual consent)
  • APSUO Chair, ex officio
  • Partner User Council Chair, ex officio

The ALD/APS will appoint the members of the SAC. The SAC Chair, selected by the ALD/APS director from the fourteen regular members, will serve a two-year term as Chair and agree to remain on the SAC for the following two years to provide continuity. The term of the chair can be renewed by mutual consent.

Evaluation Criteria

The following criteria will be used to evaluate the performance of each sector:

Scientific and Technical Output
The impact of the scientific and technical work being carried out or proposed at the sector.

The degree to which the sector has attracted or will attract outside users, i.e., non-CAT members, and the support provided for these users. The quality of facilities that are available to outside users.

Utilization of Beamtime
The effectiveness of use for the CAT's allocated beamtime.

The maturity of the CAT will be considered in all evaluations. In addition, CAT management and operations will be examined if they contribute to problem areas identified by the SAC.

In general, the SAC will have only one full annual meeting. However, if needed, the SAC Chair and the APS/ALD can call special meetings of the full SAC. A very important part of the SAC charter is review of sector performance. At the annual meeting the SAC will hear reports from stand-alone reviews held by Sector Review Panels (SRP). Each sector has an SRP, and a SAC member chairs each SRP. The SRPs will report their findings to the SAC at the annual SAC Meeting through the SRP chairs. Typically no more than 10 such reviews will be conducted annually. In this way, the SAC can review groups of related CATs before making final recommendations on actions.

The SAC will also review the performance of the APS-operated sectors, i.e. those where APS staff members are designated as Operations Managers, in the same manner as it reviews CAT-operated sectors.

All regular SAC business, including oversight of the sector review results and action recommendations, will be carried out at the annual meeting. All 14 members of the SAC are expected to attend this 2-3 day meeting, which will be held in January or February. Between meetings, business may be carried out by e-mail or teleconferencing. Each SAC member will be committed to at least two meetings at the APS per year--one or more SRP meetings and the annual meeting of the entire SAC.

In addition to the regular three-year sector reviews, the SAC will organize at least one stand-alone "cross-cut" review per year on a specific topic (e.g. protein crystallography, microscopy, magnetism, etc.) Results from the "cross-cut" reviews will be presented at the annual meeting of the entire SAC and may also lead to recommendations on specific sector actions.

The Construction/Commissioning Review Panel (CCRP) monitors progress of CATs in the Construction/Commissioning phases of development; the CCRP Chair will report their findings annually to the SAC.

Sector Review Panels

Performance of each sector will be reviewed on a three-year cycle, with a full day review by a specially selected committee (SRP) chaired by a SAC member. The review will be hosted by the APS. Each SRP will comprise six or more expert reviewers, including at least two specialists in the relevant sciences who are not regular users of synchrotron radiation. Members of the SRPs will be selected by the SRP Chairs and invited to participate by the ALD/APS. A minimum of one SAC member will be a member of each SRP and be responsible for reporting results to the full SAC; however, all SAC members are encouraged to attend sector review meetings. Efforts will be made to cluster relevant sector reviews together and share panel members where appropriate.

Prior to each sector review, a CAT will prepare a document summarizing their prior accomplishments relative to the SAC evaluation criteria, and describing proposed activities for the next review period. The document should be provided in advance to the SRP, and may be sent for external mail review if the SRP Chair feels that the SRP members do not have sufficient expertise. Format instructions for the sector review document will be provided to the Operations Managers of the sectors in advance; it is intended that information about recent successfully reviewed external proposals may be substituted where appropriate. The oral review will consist of scientific presentations, questions from the panel, and visits to the facilities. The panel should prepare its report on the same day.

Midway between the three-year reviews, each CAT will prepare a short written summary of progress for review by the SAC. If the SAC has concerns, it can ask the CAT to come in for a full review as often as once per year.

Appendix I contains the review schedule for 2002 and 2003.

Assessment of utilization, quality and CAT time allocation
It is the policy of the APS that all successfully performing CATs will retain access to 75% of the available sector beamtime, with the remaining 25% allocated to general users. If the APS provides operational support, individual agreements will define the percentage allocations of beam time.

If the SAC concludes that the performance of a CAT on a particular sector inadequately meets one or more of the three criteria above, it can recommend reduced beamtime allocation to the CAT for the next review period. The remaining time will be made available to general users or be accessible to special program proposals. The SAC will give careful consideration before making recommendations to reduce a CAT's beamtime allocation, and will attempt to identify possible corrective actions before taking more severe steps. If a CAT receives less than 75% time on its own sector, CAT members will be permitted to submit competitive general user proposals for time on their CAT's sector, provided the total time allocated to CAT members (either through CAT time or general user allocations) does not exceed a 75% total share.

Review of Partner User Proposals

Partner user proposals involve applications for more than 10% (but generally not more than 30%) of the time per year on any one sector. This type of access mode has been introduced to permit flexibility in the nature of activities to renew and invigorate the facility. Such proposals could come from any party who would provide resources, including XOR staff acting alone or in collaboration with staff from other CATs.

Actions to terminate or initiate CATs

Termination: When the SAC has concerns about the performance of a CAT, it will make written recommendations for remediation. Initial concerns will be reflected in reduced beamtime allocation to under-performing CATs. If subsequent reviews show sufficiently serious problems, the SAC can recommend to APS management that the CAT's sector assignment be terminated. If the APS decides to terminate the CAT's sector assignment, it will inform the CAT in writing of the reasons for its decision. In this event, the CAT's MOU and the CAT member institutions' User Agreements will not be renewed or extended, and the CAT may use the balance of its User Agreement term to phase out its operations, decommission its beamlines, and remove its property from the APS. If a CAT elects to withdraw from the APS on its own initiative, the CAT and the APS will jointly determine the timetable for decommissioning and for removal of the CAT's property from the APS, consistent with sector demand and the impact on general user programs.

Formation of a new or reconstituted CAT: Groups that want to form new or reconstituted CATs must have an approved Letter of Intent, approved scientific proposal, approved conceptual design, approved management plan, and a commitment for the necessary funding. The SAC will review the Letters of Intent and scientific proposals. The CCRP will review the conceptual design, and the APS will review the management plan. When all of these requirements have been satisfied, a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) can be signed with the APS. Sector assignments are made at the time a MOU is signed.


Role in Overall APS Review Structure

The figure on the preceding page shows the schematic arrangement of the various APS review boards, but does not include independent review carried out every three years by the Department of Energy.

The University of Chicago Review Committee visits the APS approximately every two years, and reviews the entire performance of the organization for the University of Chicago. The report of this committee goes to the University of Chicago Board of Governors, together with a response from the ANL director.

The Scientific Advisory Committee (SAC) fulfills and expands the role formerly provided by the Program Evaluation Board (PEB). The SAC advises the ALD/APS on the performance of CATs and sectors, on Partner User proposals of limited and intermediate scope, on new proposals for CATs, on other major research activities, and on policy issues.

The Proposal Review Panels (PRP) review general user proposals.



APPENDIX I: CAT/Sector Review Schedule 2002-2003

2002 (3 CATs/3 sectors)

CMC (9) -- November 19, 2002
DND (5) -- November 20, 2002
MU (6) -- November 21, 2002

2003 (8 CATs/7-1/2 sectors)

SER (22) -- June 2, 2003
BioCARS (14) -- June 3, 2003
IMCA (17) -- June 4, 2003
SBC (19) -- June 5, 2003
MR (10) -- September 10, 2003
PNC (20) -- September 11, 2003
IMM (8-ID) -- November 12, 2003
ChemMatCARS (15) -- November 13, 2003