I  U  P  A  C

Operation of a Project-Driven System

One of the principal concerns about the conversion of the Union's scientific activities from a Commission-based system to one based on individual projects is the lack of a very large permanent structure that can initiate and develop suitable projects. This is a valid concern, as pointed out in the SGR and confirmed by many comments from Commission members. The SDIC believes that the problems can be overcome as discussed below. There are three aspects that must be considered - (i) ideas for new projects, (ii) personnel interested in and capable of carrying out the project, (iii) development of the project in detail and management of the project.

Sources of ideas. Under the current system, ideas for projects are largely generated within an individual Commission. The ideas come from one or more individuals who are expert in a particular field and who have thought about the problems that give rise to a project. In some instances there may be a widely perceived need within the relevant scientific community for IUPAC action. At the other extreme, there may be a single individual who thinks that IUPAC could make a useful contribution to a particular problem or discipline. The SDIC believes that under the proposed structure these and other sources can be tapped for ideas.

Division Committees are to be given the principal responsibility for developing projects. To some extent, projects should emerge from discussions within the Committee, augmented initially by the chairmen and members of current Commissions as long as those Commissions exist. Division Committees should solicit views on potential projects from participants at relevant IUPAC symposia and other specialized meetings. This will require some planning and organization to arrange suitable feedback, perhaps by designating one or more Committee members to attend suitable meetings. The Secretariat may eventually be able to provide a professional staff member to assist, but the extent of the Secretariat's role needs to be worked out.

Ideas for projects should be actively solicited from NAOs, national chemical societies, regional federations, international specialty societies (primarily IUPAC Associated Organizations), and IUPAC Fellows. Simply sending out a call for projects is unlikely to be successful, as indicated by the general lack of response to similar invitations for Pool Projects over the last six years. A continuing effort from Division Committees is needed, with carefully planned follow-up action by the Secretariat. Moreover, vague ideas for potential projects are not sufficient. There must be adequate development of the concept, evaluation of its feasibility for IUPAC and realistic cost estimates. The Division Committees are ultimately responsible for most of this work, but considerable help from the Secretariat will be required.

IUPAC should continue to sponsor various levels of projects. Some may be of sufficient importance and urgency that significant resources should be committed, while others may be more along the lines of many current projects - often initiated by one or a few people, who are prepared to do all the work with little IUPAC support. In fact, in some instances the formal endorsement by IUPAC may be sufficient to attract other local sources of funds for individuals. However, each project should pass quality checks, as discussed below, and responsibility for conduct of each project should clearly be vested in an individual or a well defined Task Group.

Personnel to carry out projects. In some instances the current procedure by which the proponent of a project is usually charged with pursuing it may be sufficient and desirable. In other instances someone or some organization may make a compelling argument that IUPAC should undertake a project but with no suggestion as to who would be both capable and willing to carry out the volunteer work. The relevant Division Committee, with the active assistance of the Secretariat, must be able to identify suitable individuals with requisite expertise. Databases provided by journal editors and NAOs and developed from sources such as citation indices will undoubtedly prove to be valuable. Use of electronic communication tools, especially the Internet, should be beneficial.

Another aspect that deserves some guidelines is the geographic representation on a particular task group. For the current Commissions, the paramount requirement is expertise in the field, but considerable efforts are made to insure reasonable geographic balance. The SDIC believes that each Task Group should be treated on its own merits. For some projects it may be desirable to have the Task Group rather localized in order to prepare a document quickly and at minimum cost. In such cases, there should be a geographically broad review of the initial document and ultimate stamp of approval by a group viewed as representative (perhaps a Commission or the Division Committee). For other projects, it may be politically important at the beginning to have a Task Group balanced in several ways, including geography. In any event, there should be guidelines to insure that capable chemists from "distant" places are included as appropriate.

Project Development and Management. The SDIC envisions that projects will be developed by the relevant Division Committee and that the Task Groups responsible for projects will report directly to that Committee. The elimination of the extra level of management currently supplied by a Commission is a key advantage of our proposal. However, the Division Committee must recognize the increased responsibilities and be prepared to accept them. The members of the Committee, individually and collectively, should be expected to provide active support to the Division President. The SDIC believes that the Secretariat must be able to offer substantial assistance to Division Committees and Officers in recruiting individuals to work on some projects, and the Secretariat must assist in the management of projects. The SDIC recognizes that these responsibilities will require an enhancement of the professional staff of the Secretariat but does not believe that the essentially volunteer character of IUPAC should change. Likewise, the traditional size and budget of the Secretariat need not increase if the staff at the new site is developed to provide professional assistance, in addition to administrative support.

Executive Summary
Formation of the SDIC
Strategic Plan
Organization and Management of Scientific Work
Responsibilities of Division Committees
Election of Division Committees and Division Officers
Project-Driven System
Conversion to a New Project-Driven System
Operation of a Project-Driven System
Evaluation of Projects
Role of the Secretariat
Financial Considerations
Summary of Recommendations on Organization and Management
Summary of Formal Actions Required
Concluding Statement
Appendix 1
Appendix 2
Appendix 3
Appendix 4


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