ICPSR Council Minutes
27-28 March 2003
Council members present: Ilona Einowski, Elisabeth Gerber, Ann Green (Chair), John Handy, Mark Hayward, John Korey, Scott Long, Steve Ruggles, James Sweet, Bo Wandschneider
ICPSR staff present: Erik Austin, Rita Bantom, Bryan Beecher, Steve Burling, Dieter Burrell, Edward Czilli, Chris Dunn, Peter Granda, Sheila Grindatti, Bree Gunter, Myron Gutmann (Director), Hank Heitowit, Cynthia Hoxey, Michelle Humphres, Peter Joftis, Stacey Kubitz, Jim McNally, Mary Morris, JoAnne McFarland O'Rourke, Mary Vardigan, Janet Vavra
Visitors: Kevin Schürer, UK Data Archive; David Featherman, ISR Director
Myron Gutmann gave a PowerPoint presentation that outlined ICPSR's accomplishments since October. He presented information in the following key areas:
Staffing: ICPSR has filled two new positions since the last Council meeting. Amy Pienta will begin her position as Acquisitions Director on June 1, 2003, and James Lee has been appointed to several positions at the University of Michigan, including a position as a Faculty Associate at ICPSR. Gutmann also announced that Erik Austin has been promoted to Assistant Director of ICPSR.
Perry Building: The move to the Perry Building was successfully completed December 11-16, 2002, with computing down for only four hours. The furniture purchase came in under budget, and building security is currently being worked on.
Web and Collection Activities: The new ICPSR website was launched on March 10, complete with a new shopping cart function. There are currently 260 members of ICPSR Direct, and member downloads continue to increase. Since November 1, 32,669 files have been added to the archive.
Census 2000: The SF3 is now available online, and the SF4 is due out in April. Subsets from the SF1 are now also available. The 1% PUMS is due out next week. There is also a Summer Program course on Census 2000 scheduled for June.
Computing: An organization-wide desktop upgrade is nearly complete. Upgrades include standardized software, Windows 2000, and a new email system. The Administrative database has also been completed.
Administration: The Performance Management system continues to progress. The new budgeting and financial reporting system has been implemented, and staff are now working on new financial controls to meet University of Michigan requirements.
External Funding: The NEH proposal on undergraduate teaching and the NICHD proposal on Philippine ecomigration have not been funded.
The following external initiatives are pending:
- Disclosure Risk Analysis, NICHD
- Infrastructure project continuation, NSF
- ITR: Information Grid for Social Science, NSF
- Self-Management of Diabetes, NIA
- Grammars of Death, NICHD
- Immigrant Elders, NIA
- Kinship and Demographic Behavior, NICHD
The following external initiatives have been funded:
- Robert Wood Johnson renewal, HMCA
- NIJ renewal, converted to IA
- Child Care Archive pilot, Child Care Bureau
- Clean Process Data (Lillard Method), NIA
- Grassland Settlement, NICHD
Gutmann also reported that the retrofit codebook project has been completed. He commended the Electronic Document Conversion unit's hard work on this project, and presented Ann Green with the framed commemorative codebook.
Business Manager Stacey Kubitz provided a summary and overview of the current fiscal status of ICPSR. The original FY03 budget projected a $1,400 surplus for the year. Now staff is forecasting a $300,000-500,000 deficit for the current fiscal year. Causes of the deficit include 20% less spending on sponsored projects than forecast (resulting in less Indirect Cost Recovery--IDCR), and lower returns on our investments due to declines in the stock market.
To address these problems, specific steps have been taken:
- Staff reassignments from member-supported to sponsored projects.
- Delays in completion of Perry Building furniture purchases
- Close monitoring of non-salary costs
Kubitz then reviewed the status of ICPSR's reserves. We began the year with a fund balance in reserve of $1.9 million, of which $807,000 is required by our Memorandum of Agreement with ISR. The expected FY03 deficit, along with the planned expenditures for furnishing the Perry Building, bring our reserves down substantially.
The FY04 budget was constructed to address both expenditure patterns and the lowered level of ICPSR reserves. By implementing various adjustments to spending, we are forecasting a surplus for FY04 of $411,000. We have adopted a conservative approach to grant and contract income expected, including in the budget only those awards that have actually been received. (Pending grants/contracts may thus augment the total income received in FY04). In addition, we have decided to vacate the lower level of the Perry Building (consolidating all staff in the upper two floors of the building); this consolidation will save ca. $60,000 in rent in the coming year.
Kubitz set the current and upcoming fiscal years in historical perspective through display of several charts and graphs showing revenues and expenditures for 1999-2004. Across that period, ICPSR grew from a $6 million organization to a $9 million operation. Revenue from membership dues remained fairly flat across that period, while income from grants and contracts increased substantially.
Director Myron Gutmann next provided an interpretation of the current budget situation, to address why we have less money than we thought, as well as why staff created an austere member-funded budget for FY 2004. Graphs presented to Council illustrated budget trends, as well as gains and losses, for the period 1999-2004. A general upward trend in resources was accompanied by considerable variability in annual gains and losses, ranging from $952,000 in gains (2001) to $722,000 in losses (2002). The overall trend, however, has led to a nearly complete erosion of ICPSR's discretionary reserves. This required staff to stridently address the situation as they constructed the 2004 budget.
Gutmann explained that ICPSR expendable funds increased after its separation from the Center for Political Studies, and increased the size of its staff accordingly. Major areas of expansion included administrative staff (to provide necessary services as a stand-alone unit of ISR); recruitment of a senior academic as Director; and significant investment in Web services and technology. For 2002 and 2003, we overshot realistic expenditure targets and recovered less IDCR than expected, resulting in deficits both years.
The financial controls needed to anticipate and manage income and expenditures took longer to develop than we hoped, but are now in place. The approach that underlay creation of the 2004 budget was guided by several principles:
- member-funded expenses must be less than member dues revenue, with little reliance on IDCR
- we should reduce non-essential and non-personnel expenses first (hosting, rent, etc.)
- we should maintain investment in priority areas
- Reassign staff to new tasks if possible, rather than lay off staff
Gutmann reviewed for Council the operational areas paid for by our three major categories of income (member dues, grants and contracts, and IDCR). Member dues pay for:
- Half the cost of administering ICPSR
- General Archive collection development
- Other core services (Web, Data Library, User Support)
- Membership, meetings, and Outreach (conferences)
- Portions of Computing and Summer Program not paid for by grants and contracts
Grants and contracts pay for:
- Topical Archive collection development and outreach
- Parts of other core services (Web, Data Library, User Support, Programming)
- Research and Development activities
- Per capita shares of Computing
- Specialized Summer Program courses
Indirect Costs (IDCR) pay for:
- ICPSR's share of ISR Administration
- Rent ($230,000 for FY 2004)
- Half of ICPSR Administration
- General Organization expenses
- Proposal development
- Staff professional development
Other sources of funds include Summer Program Fees and interest income (from our investments).
For the 2004 budget, Gutmann described the good news: we continue a long-term trend of growth in both budget and member services, and pursuit of a research agenda is now underway, at no cost to the membership. Some challenges will face us, as well. They include possible delays in services to members, as a result of reductions in membership-supported budgets; the need to build back essential reserves; and the inability of IDCR to support core archival services. Accompanying these challenges are a set of key questions that Gutmann posed for the Council:
- What are ICPSR's core activities?
- Can these core activities by paid for by member fees?
- How do we develop and pay for core activities in the future?
- Is the current fee structure adequate to support the services expected by the members?
- What will the organization look like when the members contribute less than the current 30% of the budget?
Gutmann closed by announcing a staff review of ICPSR processes, including a reconsideration of everything we do. A report on this review will be delivered to Council at its October meeting
In the discussion that followed the budget presentation, Council members expressed a number of concerns. These included the need to convey to members the benefits accruing to ICPSR membership, including but not limited to long-term archiving, value-added components, and support for ICPSR as part of the social science "commons." Council members encouraged staff to study the financial consequences of ICPSR Direct; to explore various aspects of ICPSR operations in addition to data processing, including user support and Web design; and to develop estimates for costs of discrete transactions.
Council asked about which ICPSR services will not be covered or are not now being covered due to budget constraints. Staff replied that there are currently none, but that there may be longer delays in processing studies in the General Archive due to staff re-assignments. PI's may call within days or weeks (with the average being about two months) wondering about when their data will be made available. These delays between when a study arrives and when it is publicly available now may be longer. Within Archival Operations, the first cuts have been made and will take effect over the next couple of weeks. Transfers within the General Archive began about one month ago. The delays resulting from staff re-assignments will remain longer until processes are re-designed or more staff are added. We will also contribute less to travel for ORs for the coming meeting, and we will spend less on hosting at the meeting. The bigger question will be how we choose to design essential services.
Council suggested doing a cost study and process study this summer, including even the "back office" tasks of the archive, such as determining the long-term costs of archiving each study and how we pay for it. With computing, we have the recharge rate, but that covers current costs. Council also asked about the long-term fiscal consequences of ICPSR Direct and whether it was saving money or costing more. The consensus was that it has a neutral budget effect.
Gutmann explained that we have not done a cost analysis, though we expect to save about $20,000 in mailing costs from eliminating hardcopy codebooks. However, we now have 1.5 full-time web employees, plus programmers that help implement and maintain web services. The net cost of operating the web has probably added marginally to cost but not substantially. Also regarding costs, it was noted that we lack an emphasis on benefits. Benefits tend to be buried, and we need to evaluate how people are using services and also note that member services do not necessarily have an immediately observable benefit, for example, the benefit of long-term preservation. Council suggested examining which activities have direct short-term benefits versus those that have long-term benefits, and stressed the importance of implementing a long-range plan rather than simply "counting bytes." Staff remarked that the cost of improving study descriptions may have important long-term benefits because this will allow us to add other tools.
Kevin Schürer commented that the UK has a download system that they thought would lower costs, but in reality, the costs have stayed level. The preparation costs went up, and the direct download capability also increased the number of users. The cost balance just transferred from handling dissemination to handling queries.
Schürer also explained that "activity-based costing" is required in the UK. They can tell exactly what it costs to process a study. They started two years ago, and the process has helped with decision-making and simplifying the system. Activity-based costing also helps prioritize internally and get external funds because they can now make an authoritative statement regarding precise costs. They conduct the analysis partly on a sampling basis instead of doing it continuously, which is less arduous and time-consuming for staff.
Council felt that more information is necessary regarding the definition of essential services, the long-term cost of archiving, the increased cost of better metadata, and any increases in user support resulting from ICPSR Direct. Gutmann pointed out that making a decision between important tasks is difficult, for example, choosing between funding long-term preservation and a new web design. Both are very important and both present challenges. When members drop, they are never concerned about long-term preservation because data are currently availably elsewhere. Council added that part of the problem is explaining the value of membership to members. We are usually focused on access but we also need to emphasize the research side, the linkages of our activities, and the value added activities of ICPSR. Bringing these activities back into the realm of membership services would be very valuable. We need to begin to articulate the value we contribute to data distribution.
Council indicated that that it is difficult to understand costs that are periodic versus those that are ongoing. At what point is something a loss, and when does a surplus begin? Gutmann provided the example of migrating backups to new media. If we plan for long-term preservation activities for five years, we can budget for them. It is more difficult to continue these activities when they are not specifically budgeted on an ongoing basis. Staff noted that the real challenge is that our core services have improved but revenues have stayed the same. If indirect cost returns will not pay for core services, then we need to evaluate our core services to determine what is most important. Efficiencies can come in process improvements but we need to keep in mind that services have also increased.
Planning and Policy
Council: Ann Green (Chair), Mark Hayward
Staff: Myron Gutmann, Erik Austin, Rita Bantom
Intellectual Property: Myron Gutmann reported on continued discussions with University of Michigan administrators about the ownership of intellectual property created at ICPSR. While continuing to assert University of Michigan ownership of such intellectual property, the University tacitly agreed that any pecuniary benefit deriving from such intellectual property would accrue to ICPSR. Language to this effect was approved by both parties, and has now been incorporated into the Memorandum of Agreement between ICPSR and ISR.
DDI Alliance: Gutmann described ongoing deliberations leading to the creation of a "DDI Alliance" to continue the development of the DDI metadata standards begun with an NSF grant to ICPSR. It appears that there are currently 20 institutions likely to join the Alliance. Draft documents for the Alliance were available for review by the Committee. Gutmann expects that there will be a soft launch of the Alliance at the 2003 IASSIST meeting in Ottawa in late May.
Visiting scholars Guidelines: Staff presented to the Committee a draft document that outlines the guidelines for hosting visiting scholars at ICPSR. Scholars will be entertained at ICPSR if their visits promise to bring new kinds of knowledge to our organization or to stimulate our intellectual life. With rare exceptions (such as the Visiting OR Program), visiting scholars will be provided with modest support resources that include only office space, access to a desktop computer, and a small budget for long distance calls and postage. Visiting scholars will be expected to contribute to the regular life of ICPSR while in residence.
James Lee Recruitment: Gutmann briefed the Committee on the continuing efforts at the University, ISR, and ICPSR to recruit James Z. Lee, one of the world's foremost scholars of China. It is likely that Lee (now at Caltech) will accept Michigan's offer, and become Professor of History, Senior Research Scientist in the Population Studies Center at ISR, and Faculty Associate at ICPSR. He would be a tremendous asset to all three organizations. Lee submitted an NIH grant proposal in February that includes a significant component of ICPSR involvement.
Perry Building Issues
Perry Building space utilization: Staff reported on several developments for utilization of space in the Perry Building, by highlighting a number of the issues discussed in Myron Gutmann's report on the topic (included in the Council briefing book). Tentative decisions made by the Senior Staff (and subject to Council approval) include vacating the lower level of Perry except for utilizing conference rooms on that level for one-week sessions of the 2003 Summer Program. Gutmann and Facilities Coordinator Rita Bantom described explorations for locating the Summer Program in its entirety in the Perry Building, and the conclusion reached that the Perry space is not adequate for that purpose. Vacating the lower level entails moving staff located there to the top two floors, where adequate space has been found to house them. Considerable rent will be saved by this move, and it seemed incumbent on staff to realize this saving for the (already straitened) 2004 budget. The Committee joined staff in regretting the need to forego occupancy of the splendid space on the lower level in Perry, but acknowledged the fiscal necessity of doing so.
Perry Building Welcome Celebration: Staff has begun planning a celebration at the October Official Representatives meeting to commemorate both ICPSR's 40th anniversary and the 100th birthday of the Perry Building. A highlight of the celebration will be a session on October 10 tentatively entitled "Symposium in Honor of the 40th Anniversary of ICPSR: Privacy in the Information Age."
Relations with ISR
ISR Discussion of Center evaluation guidelines: Gutmann briefly oriented the Committee on a document included in the Council book on new principles of Center oversight within ISR. It is not clear that ICPSR would be covered by the principles enunciated in the document, as its enabling documents address most of the issues covered there. The document was thus presented to the Committee for information only.
ISR Discussion of Center Director Salaries: Council chair Ann Green Staff described in general discussions that she and ISR Director David Featherman had begun having about ICPSR Director Myron Gutmann's salary. Included in that discussion will be both the level of that salary for the 2004 fiscal year as well as the source(s) of support for the ICPSR Director's salary. Fifty percent of ISR Center Directors' salaries are paid centrally by University of Michigan funds, and that approach may be extended to the ICPSR Director's salary as well. Green noted that she will continue those discussions with Featherman, and report back to Council with developments, as they occur.
Resource Allocation and the New CSAT "Preferred Vendor" Designation
A very brief discussion was had of the staffing difficulties ICPSR may face in its successful venture to become a "preferred vendor" with the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration's (SAMHSA) Center for Substance Abuse Treatment (CSAT). Short response time task orders will be bid under this arrangement, and "staffing up" for successful bids will be very challenging. The Committee offered its sympathy, but had no immediate solutions to suggest.
Nominating Committee Report
Green and Gutmann reported on the nominations for Council that had been made prior to the Council meeting by the 2003 Nominating Committee. Gutmann agreed to contact the first choices of the Nominating Committee to determine willingness to run for office and serve on the Council if elected.
Membership Relations Committee
Council: Elisabeth Gerber, John Handy, John Korey (Chair), Kevin Schürer (European Representative), Bo Wandschneider
Staff: Hank Heitowit, Michelle Humphres, Mary Morris
Membership Activity Report
The committee reviewed membership activity since July. Six new members have joined and one school has rejoined. Six schools will drop by June 30, 2003, and seven schools are suspended for non-payment of annual dues. Most of the schools dropping membership cited lack of use as the reason, although a few indicated financial concerns. Staff indicated that, with the current economic conditions, more suspension for non-payment of dues might occur in the next fiscal year.
Promotion of ICPSR Direct on Member Campuses
In response to the committee's request for suggestions to promote ICPSR Direct, staff presented several promotional activities. The activities were targeted at users at member schools that have ICPSR Direct (aiming to increase awareness and use of ICPSR Direct) and at ORs at schools that have not yet signed up for the services. The committee reviewed the suggestions and directed staff to implement those they felt were reasonable, given the current financial constraints. In terms of the schools that have not subscribed to the service, the committee directed staff to focus their efforts on those schools that download substantial amounts of data.
Update on 2003 OR Meeting
The committee continued the discussion of the 2003 OR meeting agenda that was started at the October Council meeting. Staff compiled suggestions from ORs and Council and combined them with the agenda from the 2001 OR meeting to develop a tentative agenda for the 2003 meeting. Although staff and Council will fine-tune the agenda at the June Council meeting, staff will start to contact possible presenters and panelists.
Update on UM Business School Initiative
Staff informed the committee that ICPSR's proposal seeking assistance in developing an ICPSR marketing plan, submitted to the U-M Business School, was not selected. Committee members asked that more details about the rejection be obtained to determine whether or not to resubmit a revised plan next year.
Update on Plan to Enhance Outreach to Non-members
At the October Council meeting, committee members directed staff to move forward with recruitment efforts. In response, staff categorized all non-member institutions by state, using the Carnegie Classification System. Very few institutions in the Doctoral Research Universities (Extensive), and Doctoral Research Universities (Intensive) are not members of ICPSR. And of those, most had been members in the past. The issue was raised as to how many of the nonmembers in other Carnegie Classifications would make use of ICPSR resources. Many are smaller schools with less emphasis on research activities.
Committee members decided that a personal contact at potential member schools might be the most effective way to proceed at this time. Staff will send a template to all Council members along with the list of nonmember schools. Council members were asked to send the template to acquaintances at those schools, copying their email to staff so that staff can follow up on the initial contact.
Staff also reported on a November 2002 member development trip to the Dallas, Texas area. Four member schools were visited, along with a nonmember institution. Staff indicated expenses for the trip were around $3000. The trip was met with varying degrees of enthusiasm by the member ORs, and there has been no positive response to joining by the nonmember. Committee members again suggested involving ORs in these kinds of membership efforts to reduce costs.
Proposal to the Ad hoc Membership Committee Regarding Federations
The Ad hoc Membership Committee was charged with reviewing and evaluating the entire ICPSR membership structure and, if warranted, proposing alternatives. After an initial meeting and the gathering of extensive information, the Ad hoc committee has been at a standstill. In an effort to move forward, staff proposed two changes to membership structure. The first was a proposal related to federations; it included grandfathering in existing federations, defining the composition of new federations, and creating a new dues algorithm for newly formed federations. The second proposal related to reclassifying member institutions that had changed substantially in terms of enrollment figures and programs offered since they joined the Consortium. In other words, if these institutions were to join ICPSR today, they would be classified differently.
After much discussion, the committee tabled these proposals and indicated that the Ad hoc Membership Committee should be reconstituted to address all the issues of membership structure. Jim Sweet will serve as the new Chair of the Ad hoc committee and will work with Ann Green to facilitate the committee's agenda.
Reconsideration of FY04 Fee Increase
Committee members discussed the proposed 3% fee increase and recommended going forward with it, while at the same time acknowledging that all universities are going through adverse economic times.
Archival Development Committee
Council: Steven Ruggles (Chair), Ilona Einowski, Scott Long
Staff: Peter Granda, Mary Vardigan, Chris Dunn, Amy Pienta
Goals for Future Data Acquisitions
Goals for future data acquisitions were discussed after Amy Pienta had been introduced to everyone. The discussion focused on how gaps in data holdings could be identified and how some of the most widely used datasets that were not contained in the archive could be located. A number of strategies were mentioned. These included using the Archival Development Committee to suggest data collections; focusing collection development efforts on the academic strengths of some colleges and universities that are not ICPSR member institutions in order to give them a reason to join; convening or using expert committees in disciplines with low levels of holdings in the archive; asking Council to systematically think about absent data collections from their own disciplines; and sending letters to section chairs of various professional organizations, asking them to recommend data to ICPSR. Discussion then turned to ideas about and issues related to new and unconventional sources of social science data, such as textual data and multimedia collections as sources of data or digital materials to be archived. The committee encouraged staff to be open-minded in the acquisition of new types of data and to pursue funding support by means of grant proposals to support experiments in the archiving of new types of sources.
Renewed Availability of IMF Data
An email received from Diane Geraci (ICPSR Council member 1997-2001 now working at the UK Data Archive in Essex) described in brief a new license agreement for IMF data for all UK Higher and Further Education institutions. This email stimulated renewed discussion about the possibility of obtaining the long-sought IMF data for ICPSR member institutions. Important pricing details of the UK license are confidential, so Peter Granda was asked by the committee to pursue additional information from IMF about a possible agreement with IMF to obtain the data. Further discussion during the subsequent report of this item to the full Council led to a Council recommendation for greater emphasis on and exploration of possible arrangements with the IMF for obtaining the data. Council encouraged staff to be open to pursuing creative and economically feasible alternatives for obtaining the data. A progress report will be made to Council at the June 2003 meeting.
Staff updated the committee on pursuit of the Latinobarometros data series for the Archive. A letter from Erik Austin had recently been sent, but no reply had yet been received. The Committee recommended that staff purchase the CD of Latinobarometros in order to assess the quality and value of the data.
Michigan Census Research Data Center (MCRDC)
The committee discussed the lack of any response to recent announcements to the ICPSR community about the availability of a research seat at the MCRDC sponsored by ICPSR. Discussion focused on the need to better target publicity materials about the MCRDC to potential end users. Suggestions included direct recruitment of researchers, publicity brochures in the packets received by all Summer Program participants, orientation sessions built into Summer Program classes and workshops as appropriate, and including a presentation about the MCRDC in the 2003 OR meeting. Mary Vardigan will take the lead on an action item to develop and distribute a publicity brochure to take to conferences and to distribute to Summer Program participants.
SDA Version of the World Values Survey
The committee discussed the conversion to SDA of the World Values Survey (WVS) data by JoAnn Dionne, the University of Michigan OR, and the access policy for those data. The WVS is currently available to anyone using it in SDA format through the UM Library site, including researchers who request the data directly from the PI. The committee identified a number of possible alternative data release mechanisms, but all of these raised major issues or had major unknowns. Free distribution of the data to anyone would open up a data collection previously available to members only and thereby reduce the value of membership. It was unknown whether the PI's colleagues in other countries could be provided with ICPSR Direct accounts. It was also unknown whether the SDA version of the data could be made available for analysis only to these individuals and downloading of the data blocked in SDA. Concern was raised by the committee about the general principle of allowing PIs to control who has access to data collections. None of these issues reached the point of resolution whereat an action agenda item could be framed. The committee conveyed to staff and Council that it is concerned about the many implications of opening up data to everyone or of providing data only to researchers designated by the original PI.
Standards for Persistent Dataset Identifiers
Mary Vardigan called the committee's attention to the two-page Council briefing book summary of issues related to the importance of maintaining stable links to ICPSR data. She reported that ICPSR was using new software that checks for broken hyperlinks on its Web pages. The committee agreed that this was an important issue and requested staff to continue to monitor developments and best practices concerning persistent data identifiers. However, the committee did not think that the issue warranted a large investment of work energy and funds at the present time in view of budget issues facing ICPSR.
Status Reports and Recent Proposals Submitted/Awarded
The committee took note of the additional materials in the briefing book about ongoing projects, grant proposals, and grant awards. Mary Vardigan commented that the on-line bibliography of ICPSR publications was proving to be a very popular and well-received resource. Within the past few weeks, a private company (EBSCO) has contacted ICPSR about a possible licensing agreement, which ICPSR staff are pursuing.
Data Processing Streamlining
Steve Ruggles asked the staff about a topic that Myron Gutmann had raised during his Director's Report earlier in the day, the proposed review of all of ICPSR's archival development data processing and management procedures. Staff noted that there were a number of areas in which improvements could be made in the streamlining of archival development and related dataset tracking and data management tasks. They noted that a number of different examples of duplicative work or delays had come to light as a result of initial work on the processing database as well as from improved communication among archival development and user support mid-level staff.
Council: Ann Green, John Handy, Jim Sweet (Chair)
Staff: Myron Gutmann, Stacey Kubitz
FY03 Year-end Projection
Staff shared with Council that they were anticipating $300,000-$500,000 shortfall above and beyond the Perry Building Furniture. The primary driver of this situation was the assumption that excess indirect costs and interest revenue could subsidize membership activities. In retrospect, this assumption was not feasible and staff has budgeted very conservatively for FY04.
After 2 years of deficits, staff and Council agree that it is important to replenish reserves by building a surplus into the fiscal year operating budget for years to come. The committee noted that ICPSR is in a budget challenge, not crisis, and is projecting a $300,000-$500,000 deficit in 2003 (beyond furniture). This will deplete ICPSR's discretionary reserves.
FY04 Draft Budget
Some time was spent discussing the pros and cons of the new budget reporting format. Council requested a 1-2 page summary that highlights for them what areas of the budget to pay special attention to. Additionally, Council will be provided a summary of each Functional Area's historical finances in the format for comparative purposes.
Once the formatting issues were set aside, the details of the budget were discussed. Staff shared with Council that "outside" expenses (rent, I/O Split to ISR) are increasing; therefore, we must decrease our core membership activities to have a balanced budget. To accomplish this goal, the following actions have been taken:
- employees have been shifted off of membership funded activities and onto sponsored activities
- bring member funded activities down to 2001 levels
- decrease non-salary expenses across the board
Other cost-cutting measures discussed included reducing the Council meetings to twice a year or reducing them to one day rather than two. Staff and Council also briefly discussed the mechanism by which Computer and Network Services is funded partially by member dues.
Staff affirmed their comfort in the stability of sponsored revenues for FY04 and also mentioned there were a number of pending proposals that may contribute more indirect cost recovery to ICPSR's gain in FY04. FY04 budget returns to 2001 levels plus 10% for membership activities, which will ensure we live within our means and rebuild our reserves.
The committee also reviewed page 21 of the binder, which indicated that ICPSR is budgeting to spend $262,000 less in membership activities and $134,000 less in indirect cost funded areas than expected revenues. Although this is conservative, ICPSR is still at risk because our revenues may be less than budgeted. A substantial portion of the committee meeting was spent on interpreting the historical trend report. Council requested that staff formalize a procedure for budgeting and for receiving staff development and training support.
The committee noted a new item in the budget: the "Director's Contingency, " which totals $71,000. This will support bridging for sponsored staff between projects with member funds. Maybe a similar fund will be included funded with indirect cost recovery in the June version of the budget.
Council also requested staff to formalize procedures for requesting staff development and training funds.
Perry Furniture Payment Arrangement with ISR
The memo included in the binders was briefly discussed.
Information Technology Committee
Council: Ilona Einowski, Mark Hayward, Steve Ruggles, Kevin Schürer (European Representative), Bo Wandschneider (Chair)
Staff: Bryan Beecher, Peter Joftis, Janet Vavra
ICPSR Strategic Technology Plan
The committee discussed email conversion from POP to IMAP. Also noted was a pilot to evaluate alternative IMAP-capable, multi-platform email clients. The current choice, Eudora, has been widely used and has generally worked, but there are some problems. In particular, Eudora stores outbound mail on the local PC, which is inaccessible when users are away from their desktop machines. Council asked about the possible choice of Outlook as an alternative to Eudora. Staff indicated that an evaluation is planned to test other email software clients. The result would be formal specifications and evaluations that would provide criteria for deciding amongst the various choices.
An evaluation of smaller, less expensive Intel-based open UNIX-based machines is planned. These machines are very cost effective and inexpensive enough that spares could be kept to deal with maintenance problems.
Beecher's goal regarding the Computer Recharge is to remove programming and special project costs from the Computing Recharge rate. Development will be budgeted on a project basis. This will better tie costs to projects and allows for better planning for CNS staff commitments. Council commented that moving away from the seat charge mechanism for special projects is a good idea, but expressed concern that there be a mechanism for funding such projects. Staff responded that we are negotiating with unit heads to get an idea of the scope and needs of their projects so that we will know what resources would be required at the beginning of the next fiscal year. CNS would be better able to allocate staff, and projects would be driven by the budget process. Beecher pointed out that the recharge model worked well for desktop support and other "business as usual" operations, but not for special projects or purchases. Council also asked if replacement of basic equipment was done out of the recharge. Beecher explained that it was a mixed model: most purchases were taken out of the Recharge, but rental equipment for the Summer Program came out of the Summer Program budget.
Staff also presented information regarding DHCP for assigning addresses to mobile machines in Perry.
After reviewing the document, Council expressed concern with some of the wording of the document and suggested that staff clarify the following statements: The document alludes to 24/7 service but then describes extended business hours, 5 days a week; Council also questioned the appropriateness of a 12-1pm maintenance window; finally, the numbers on page three do not seem realistic given vendor's four-hour response time as stated on page four. The committee also noted that there is currently no on-call policy and recommended that to set expectations and be fair to staff, a policy should be created.
Disaster Recovery Plan
An Uninterruptible Power Supply has been priced at approximately $10,000. It was frozen in this year's budget because of cost considerations. Council expressed concern that this item not be dropped for financial reasons alone and felt that it should be a requirement of operation. Beecher pointed out that the next level of service guarantee requires replication of the system environment and data off-site. Such a warm backup would allow faster reloading of data and complete take over in the case of a catastrophic failure such as a fire.
Discussion focused on situations where down time could be more than a week while new equipment or new facilities were found. The committee discussed the possibility of a formal relationship with the UKDA or Minnesota Population Center to provide reciprocal warm backup services in a crisis scenario.
Beecher expressed a desire that the site be an Internet2-attached site and that it be situated where it was reasonable to send staff if necessary. It was decided that Beecher should research and report back on the necessary arrangements and costs. Council pointed out that there are projects being discussed that involve tighter coordination with ICPSR, including the mirroring of the IPUMS data and negotiations with the UKDA regarding more transparent access between resources held by the UKDA and ICPSR.
As ICPSR moves toward a services based rather than a data based operation, more "up time" is expected by users. Staff will continue to plan for an operation that supports expanded services to members and develop a more detailed plan with costs for a warm back-up arrangement.
Administrative Database Update
The Administrative Database project has been successfully reprogrammed and is in production.
Tracking Database Update
The Tracking Database was discussed at length. The committee noted that staff should start with a manageable task: replacing some of the legacy forms with electronic versions. This will provide less redundant entry and therefore improve efficiency and reduce data quality problems. Council commented that it will be difficult to implement one, well-integrated solution. Kevin Schürer also reported on how complex a process tracking workflow in the archive can be. He provided a disk with documents describing the four-domain model used at the UKDA. Vicki Neff demonstrated the current web-based pilot of the Tracking Database application. She emphasized that most of the first year had been spent gathering information from staff and getting agreement on the elements needed for the database. Council complimented staff on what has been accomplished to date.
Janet Vavra reported on the current status of ICPSR Direct. The key question is whether the current level of use is high enough (approaching 80% of eligible institutions) or if efforts should be made to sign up the remaining holdouts. The committee felt that current results were good, that the hold outs probably had to do with ORs at those institutions, and that continued low level effort, including contacting faculty at those institutions would be enough.
Vavra also reported on the migration of the tape archive from 3480 to the more modern DLT tape format. About 74% of the tapes have been converted. About 22% of the files migrated showed small conversion problem and have been put aside for later evaluation. Many files have trivial issues that can be repaired. Only a very small number (1%?) will have serious issues. The project will probably slow down in the next FY to control costs.
Quantitative Research and Training Committee
Council: Elisabeth Gerber, John Korey, Scott Long (Chair)
Staff: Dieter Burrell, Edward Czilli, Hank Hetowit
Report on the 2003 Summer Program
Staff gave an overview of the 2003 Summer Program. The number of courses and course content are similar to the 2002 Program and preparations are on schedule. Council expressed strong support for the important role that the Summer Program plays in the broad array of ICPSR activities. The committee pointed out that the Summer Program is a valued service and that ICPSR should, where appropriate, invest the needed resources in its success.
Report from the Committee on Quantitative Methods for Underrepresented Groups (QMUG)
John Handy summarized the January teleconference with the Mellon Foundation. Mellon expressed interest in supporting activities related to entering graduate students in the social sciences. Handy noted that, given the current legal environment, further QMUG discussions should be put on hold to await clarification of the legal status of these programs.
Report from the Instructional Materials and Information Committee (IMIS)
John Korey reported on the SIMI Committee's meeting in late January at UCLA including the SIMI Committee's discussion of Jim Oberly's draft charge of SIMI. This led to a committee discussion of the SIMI Project. One view questioned whether, in lieu of current budget considerations, ICPSR should continue to invest resources in the type of activities SIMI represents given that these activities have not historically, nor are presently, a core service of ICPSR to its members. The alternative view was that it is precisely now, during difficult budge times, that ICPSR should think ahead about the future of SIMI-type instructional activities. SIMI could be an important contribution to membership and ICPSR should continue the modest investment to lay the foundation for its success.
Scott Long reported that the committee had discussed whether current budget considerations recommend that ICPSR pursue this type of instructional materials activity at this time. Korey commented that these types of instructional materials could be an important aspect of membership for many institutions and that the current modest investment had laid a foundation for future growth that should be continued. Council then discussed various aspects of instructional materials including what type would be appropriate for ICPSR to develop, what expertise staff or interested faculty could contribute to the work, what sort of demand is latent or actual among college faculty, and whether commercial textbook or other vendors are supplying that demand.
Council discussed how ICPSR would know whether SIMI activities were successful or not. It was concluded that staff would develop guidelines and the methodology for an evaluation plan for the SIMI Project over the next couple of years. Council also discussed how to finance instructional materials at ICPSR. These activities are currently paid out of indirect costs. Alternatives include covering costs from membership funds or by attempting to obtain external funding.
Council and staff reviewed the following action items for all committees:
For Archival Development, staff will be responsible for publicizing the Michigan Census Research Data Center, reviewing the availability of IMF data, and resolving the SDA World Values Survey public access question.
The FY04 budget and narrative summary should be completed by the June Council meeting. Stacey Kubitz will obtain feedback from the Business School on the MAP project rejection and also complete a trend analysis by functional area for FY1999-2004. She and Gutmann will draft a policy on staff development and training for review at the June meeting.
For Information Technology, Byran Beecher will be responsible for the following items: revising the Strategic Technology and Disaster Plans, initiating discussions with Gutmann and Kubitz regarding capital investment and the UPS, and exploring the possibility of mirroring ICPSR at another location.
Council approved staff's implementation of the ICPSR Direct suggestions that were presented during the Membership Relations Committee report and encouraged staff to draft a recruitment letter for Council to send to colleagues at non-member schools. Staff will also follow through with the recommended dues increase and continue planning for the 2003 OR meeting.
For Planning and Policy, Green and Gutmann will be responsible for working with David Featherman on the ICPSR Director's salary. Gutmann will also contact Council nominees and begin the replacement process for Frank Gilliam's seat on the Council. At Council's request, Gutmann will also research the possibility of Europeans paying for DDI membership in Euros.
Council approved a recommendation from the Quantitative Research and Training Committee to proceed with an evaluation of the Site for Instructional Materials and Information (SIMI).