The 2nd Science Programme Review Team
7 August 2006The Science Programme is currently undergoing an external management review which is expected to be completed in the first half of 2007. Composed of acknowledged experts in the European scientific and industrial communities, the Science Programme Review Team began its work last May to review the management of the Programme, including the manner in which projects are selected and implemented. The review is expected to have a major impact on the Science Programme of ESA over the next ten or more years.
The Team is led by Dr. Reinder van Duinen, who, in addition to being a former President of the European Science Foundation also has a broad experience in industry, the scientific research environment and in a Member-state national Administration. The Team has, so far, met on 2 occasions in plenary session and, at its meeting in June, a number of sub-groups were established, tasked with looking in detail at various priority-issues, already identified by the Team.
Over the coming months, the Team will carry out interviews, review documentation, initiate specific reviews and develop hypotheses, analyses, reports and recommendations, firstly for discussion and verification within the Team, then for discussion / consultation with the Executive and SPC.
The target is for the Team to complete its work and submit a Report and Recommendations to the March 2007 ESA Council.
Some of the issues that the Team will address as priorities are:
- The overheating of the Science Programme
- The complete decision-making process of the Programme
- Contingency management, risk and budget control
- Instrument development – risks and funding
- Advanced technology development
- Internal facilities and overhead-charging
- Mission-mix and time-scales
A previous SPRT, led by Professor Klaus Pinkau, carried out a similar review in 1988 which, through its wide-ranging recommendations and the cost-reductions it achieved, facilitated the implementation of the Horizons 2000 Programmes. That review is considered to have played a crucial role in the way the Programme could evolve, particularly during the early 90's, when the foundations were laid for many of the achievements in the current Programme. It is to be hoped that SPRT #2 will be at least as effective in carrying out the mandate given to it by Council and that the final Report and Recommendations of the Team will mark a significant, positive milestone in the history of the ESA Scientific Programme.