An open letter to the broader users community

Tim Meyer

Fermilab’s future is very bright indeed. Thanks to the combined efforts of our staff, our scientific user community, our industrial partners and the neighbors that live near our facilities, Fermilab is moving into a new era of international collaboration, led by the Deep Underground Neutrino Experiment (DUNE) at the Long Baseline Neutrino Facility (LBNF). Already, we have over 150 institutions and 700 individuals participating in this flagship, many of whom are working at Fermilab already.

We expect those numbers to grow even more as the plans for LBNF and DUNE become an operational reality. But such growth demands even greater responsibility. We must protect the health and safety of all of our employees and our on-site users and visitors. We must protect our collective investments in property and equipment from damage or neglect. And we must protect the intellectual capital of each institution and its representatives. That is why Fermilab has decided to adopt the formal Non-Proprietary User Agreement (NPUA) framework established by the U.S. Department of Energy for all designated user facilities.

There is no question that Fermilab’s somewhat informal, legacy approach to partnerships served the laboratory and its user community well for decades. But Fermilab is no longer the “little lab on the prairie.” We are home to the Fermilab Accelerator Complex, a designated scientific user facility funded by the Department of Energy’s Office of Science that already engages many hundreds of researchers from institutions around the world. We also host hundreds of researchers who participate in the Compact Muon Solenoid (CMS) experiment at CERN’s Large Hadron Collider. We can no longer rely on a simple handshake to properly protect the interests of all of our research partners, both here and abroad.

Effective Oct. 1, 2015, a Non-Proprietary User Agreement, signed by the appropriate institutional officer at the user’s institution, will be required before individual users can work on site at Fermilab on experiments that are associated with the Fermilab Accelerator Complex or CMS. Between now and the end of the fiscal year, each institution that already has personnel working on site at one of Fermilab’s designated user facilities will be asked to sign a Non-Proprietary User Agreement. This short, written agreement is a powerful declaration of the commitment between Fermilab and each collaborator to easy access, steady support and great science. For those institutions who have users at other national laboratories, the agreement should look quite familiar, and I hope that you will be able to sign and return the agreement to us quickly. For those institutions that have not previously signed a similar agreement, Fermilab’s Office of Partnerships and Technology Transfer will be available to answer your questions.

Our goal is to establish a new formal agreement with every institution that already has personnel working on the Fermilab site on or before Oct. 1, 2015. We ask for your cooperation to help us make this transition as quickly as possible so that we can minimize any disruptions to our scientific pursuits while ensuring that our people and our assets are properly protected.