On 20-21 February, the 32nd meeting of the ESS Council took place at ESS in Lund.
“Holding the line”
Following a status update presented by Director General Helmut Schober, the Council unanimously expressed appreciation for the steady progress of the project and the demonstrated good adherence to the re-baseline plan over the last five months.
Along with the many achievements in all areas of the facility (Accelerator, Target, Instruments and Controls), the Director General informed of technical challenges and action plans successfully implemented in the past months, thanks to improved responsiveness and better cooperation, both in house and with In Kind partners, as remarked by the Council.
“We are pleased by the positive feedback received by our Council”, says Director General Helmut Schober. “It is a great team work, across our partners and inside ESS. We will continue to make use of every resource and adjust the way we work to keep the momentum and progress steadily on our Road to Science.”
The positive trend was confirmed by a detailed status report on the neutron instruments provided by the ESS management and In-Kind partners.
“We applauded the excellent overview about the status of the instruments and the remarkable progress made so far", says Beatrix Vierkorn-Rudolph, chair of the ESS Council. ”Council delegates are confident that the instruments will be ready for first science as planned”.
Performance Enhancement in Progress
During the meeting, the Director General updated the Council on ongoing and future initiatives for continuous improvement of the overall performance of the organisation to meet the target of completing the facility by the end of 2027.
The update included progress in the implementation of the newly established Operations & infrastructure unit, designed to optimise and accelerate the provision of services for construction, installation, integration, maintenance and operations of components.
The Council was also updated on the ongoing review of ESS’ financial management system to make its financial processes and tools fit for the challenges of the future.
ESS informed that a recent internal audit on Cash Flow pointed out how ESS, like any organisation that has its main expenditure in SEK and considerable income in €, has been profiting from the current weakness of SEK vs. €, resulting in a net positive effect for ESS.
The Council asked the Finance Advisory Committee (AFC) to analyse this effect, in particular on the additional funding needed until 2027, which might be lower than previously estimated.
Also, the Council asked the AFC to work with ESS to adjust the currency management method.
All these findings will be presented at the next Council meeting on 30 May.
Managing the Transition from Construction to Operations
The Council was updated on the ongoing work for the preparedness for operations, including the preparation of a staff planning and cost estimate for steady state operations that will be presented to the Council in December.
Science Director Giovanna Fragneto presented the vision for preparing the organisation for scientific success.
This goal will be achieved by managing the transition from a construction project to a science-based facility and making sure that scientific activities will increasingly gain a central role in the ESS agenda.
In the spirit of international and multi-disciplinary collaboration as a key driver for scientific excellence, the meeting included the visit of the chair of the board of Lund University, Jonas Hafström, and vice-chancellor Erik Renström.
The visit, promoted by the ESS Council chair, manifests the strong intention to broaden partnerships between ESS, Lund University and all the key players in the public and private sector of this knowledge intensive region.
Appointment of members of advisory committees
During the meeting, the Council appointed new members of its Technical Advisory Committee (TAC) and Scientific Advisory Committee (SAC) from worldwide research institutions.
A call for nominations for the Project Advisory Committee (PAC) membership will be launched in the coming months.
The mandate of the present Council chair and vice chair will come to an end in June. The appointment of the new chair and vice chair is ongoing.