NAASC Organization, Policies and Procedures

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This page describes NAASC policies and work functions that all NAASC staff are expected to know. It is in addition to the information for new staff that is collected at NAASCOrientationPolicies.

NAASC Organization

Go to Org Chart

ALMA Advisory Committees

NA ALMA Operations, the NAASC, and the NA ARC

  • NA ALMA Operations
    • All NRAO-based effort for ALMA operations in the four main functional areas delineated by NRAO
      • OSO: Observatory Science Operations - includes activities on behalf of ALMA users
        • This is the NAASC
        • Includes ALMA-focussed efforts from NRAO Science Communications and NRAO Computing & Information Services (CIS)
      • OTO: Observatory Telescope Operations - includes activities on behalf of ALMA telescope support
        • Includes some elements of the NA ARC (e.g. duty trips to Chile)
        • Includes Offsite Technical Support (support of hardware and software being used by ALMA in Chile)
        • Includes NA share of the Joint ALMA Observatory (JAO)
      • OAS: Observatory Administrative Services - includes activities to support NA ALMA fiscal functions
        • Includes the Office of Chile Affairs
        • Includes ALMA-focussed efforts from NRAO Business & Administrative Services
      • ODP: Observatory Development Program - includes activities in support of NA ALMA development
        • Includes ALMA Development Program
        • Includes ALMA Development Studies
      • DO/OSAA: Directors Office and the Office of Science and Academic Affairs
        • Includes "Broader Outreach" efforts (Diversity, Student & Postdoc programs)
        • Includes ALMA-focussed effort from NRAO EPO

  • NA ARC as defined by the ALMA Operations Plan:
    • Activities agreed to be essential to core ALMA function by all three regions
    • Management is closely coordinated with DSO and other ARCs (e.g. AoD tours, common software, Helpdesk, visitor support)
    • Most of these activities are a subset of the overall NAASC function

  • NAASC: additional roles beyond those defined in the ALMA Operations Plan
    • Additional activities decided by each Region independently (e.g. Outreach and community support, EPO, enhanced data services and algorithm development, HPC)
    • Coordinated with other ARCs and DSO by mutual agreement, when desirable and possible

NA ALMA Staff Roles

  • NA ALMA AD - Overall responsible for all NA ALMA Operations to NRAO
  • NAASC Head - Overall responsibility for NAASC performance to NRAO
  • ARC Manager- Overall responsibility for ARC performance to NRAO and international partners
  • Group Leads - Responsibility for overall performance of Group to NAASC
  • Task/Team Leads - Responsibility for performance of Teams and implementation of Tasks
  • Team Members - Responsibility for own performance

NAASC Organizational Chart

Available here

Task Assignments to NAASC Groups

Tasks are assigned to one of the Groups or Teams identified in the NAASC Organizational Chart. The different groups/teams and their scope is as follows:

  • NAASC Management Group(Lead: AWootten)
    • Major tasks: Staff policies, staff evaluation, reporting, budget development, interaction with Directors office, interaction with other NRAO divisions, Diversity, EPO
  • User Support Group (USG)(Lead: CLonsdale)
    • Major tasks: direct user support (f2f visits, help desk, Contact Scientist for observing projects), community training events & schools, science workshops, user documentation & training material, science software requirements for user applications
  • Data Services Group (DSG)(Lead=MLacy)
    • Major tasks: archive data retrieval and delivery to PI, NA science pipeline operations including QA, computing support for interactive processing, [SB generation & validation (when this task is ARC-based)]
    • tasks support through CIS: NA ALMA archive support, high performance computing support, visitor computing hardware, user application maintenance (help desk, science portal)
  • ALMA Software Group (Lead=BGlendenning)
    • Major tasks: CASA & pipeline software, pipeline heuristics, non-CASA science software
  • JAO Support Group (JSG)(Lead=JHibbard)
    • Major tasks: support visits to Chile (AoD, data reduction), proposal review support (technical assessments, technical secretaries), [SB generation (until this task is ARC-based, when it will transfer to DSG)]
  • ALMA Development Group(Leads=AWootten and WRandolph)
  • Imaging Tiger Team (TT)(Lead=CBrogan)
    • Major tasks: produce Science Verification products, ARC-based data reduction of PI datasets, science input/evaluation to ALMA pipeline

The above summaries are approximate and may change with time. The active tasks assigned to each group and links to the materials needed by staff to support these tasks is maintained on NAASC wiki, under the section "NAASC Group Task Assignments".

How do Teams work?

  • Teams undertake the actual work Tasks of the NAASC (some tasks might be undertaken by single individuals)
  • Teams are led from within a Group, but can have Team Members from other Groups
  • Teams can be temporary or long-term
  • Team Leads are responsible for the successful implementation/performance of the Task


The Helpdesk Team

Team Lead: Tony

Task Description: Operate the helpdesk: staffing schedules, ticket triage, ticket responses, knowledgebase articles, interfaces with other ARCs.

Team Members: Most members of NAASC will be called on to staff the triage, answer tickets and write knowledgebase articles. They are all members of the Helpdesk Team.

Roles of Team Leads and Members

  • Role of Team Lead
    • Receive Task from Group Lead
    • Generate Task Plan
      • goals, requirements, staffing, schedule
    • Review/revise plan with Group Lead, who will obtain agreement from NAASC management and arrange for the required staffing
    • Lead the Task
      • direct team member activities
      • responsible for successful performance/completion on schedule with available resources
      • bring conflicts and other issues to Group Lead for assistance with resolution
  • Role of Team Member
    • Take direction from Team Lead
    • Responsible for committing to Task requirements and undertaking them on schedule
    • Responsible for own work load:
      • make realistic assessment of effort required for task assignments
      • bring conflicts and potential over-commitments to the attention of Team and Group Leads before taking on new tasks

Work Assignments

  1. Work will be tracked weekly by task leads and group heads, based on input from group meetings or review of meeting summaries and action items.
  2. Work assignments may be renegotiated with task leads, if necessary, due to other obligations or conflicts.
  3. Team members will provide realistic schedules for the completion of all tasks which they take on to the task lead, and will update the task and group leads if the situation changes.
    • The expected completion date of the task is made at the time of the task assignment and in discussion with the task lead.
    • Team members are responsible for ensuring that they do not take on unrealistic task loads.
    • If a new task affects previously accepted tasks, the team member will convey this information and discuss the impact and effect of the other tasks with the task / group leads.
    • Team members are expected to speak up if they have available time for tasks.

Management Roles and Evaluation of Progress

  1. The group head is the line supervisor for group members, and has the responsibilty for coaching and appraising the performance of group members.
  2. Task leaders hold the responsibility for the successful completion of the task, and carry the appropriate authority to effect the accomplishment of the task on schedule.
  3. Group leads are responsible for ensuring that task leads have the necessary resources to meet their task on schedule. Shortage of resources can be addressed by the NAASC management team by:
    • Extension of the schedule for the task.
    • Delay of the task until resources become available.
    • Re-prioritizing of other tasks to provide additional resources for the task in question.
    • Acquiring additional resources from outside the NAASC.
    • Suitable outsourcing of the task.
  4. Task leads communicate required actions, expectations and schedule to all contributing task members.
  5. If a team member's commitments are not being met as expected, the task lead will:
    • First discuss the issue with the task member
    • If unresolved, the task leader will take the issue to the group leader and the three parties will meet to discuss possible solutions to the unresolved task.
  6. Clear definititions and responsibilities of task and line management will be agreed to by the team:
    • Managers may meet and discuss the process for resolving conflicts and complaints.
    • At the group meetings, there must be an agreement/buy-in by the team of the process for evaluation of tasks.
    • Information about the employee performance appraisal process can be found on NRAO's Human Resources webpare under "Performance Management."


Attitude, Interaction and Communication Standards

  1. The standard for communication between staff members is that discussions will be collegial at all times, and will be kept productive. Any critique that is made in public will take the form of positive criticism. Negative or non-productive cycles of discussion will be avoided at all cost.
  2. Email is one of the most common methods of communication. While it is of value for disseminating information to several people, we recognize that it does not always encourage effective dialogue. Team members will interact via the most direct methods (direct dialogue, phone call), when possible and appropriate.

Expectations for NAASC

  1. NAASC must have a clear path of action towards Early Science
  2. The roles of the staff must be clear
  3. The team must work as a whole towards a shared mission
  4. The staff must commit to a higher level of respect and collegiality
  5. Staff should focus on talking with each other rather than about each other
  6. Pull for each other’s success
  7. Develop a Mission Statement
  8. Decide what we want the community to view us as

Expectations for Leaders

  1. Provide a vision and overall priorities
  2. Organize
  3. Make decisions in a timely way
  4. Take ownership of decisions
  5. Keep agreements
  6. Protect team members from NAASC-external pressures
  7. Be realistic about NAASC work commitments
  8. Listen well
  9. Make clear assignments, including critical outcomes

Expectations for Staff

  1. Give feedback
  2. Make explicit agreements
  3. Keep agreements or renege asap
  4. Work hard and do good work
  5. Solve problems
  6. Be creative
  7. Share ideas
  8. Make timely requests
  9. Ask questions
  10. Be good stewards
  11. Go to bat for team members
  12. Share needs and concerns

Expectations Regarding Meetings

Standing Meetings

All standing meetings should have a well-defined “purpose” that is properly articulated. A “well-defined purpose” can include a standing purpose, such as routine reporting on weekly progress of each task and action item.
  1. The meeting lead will arrange time, venue, mode of interaction (phone, Videocon, room) in concert with principals.
  2. The meeting lead will decide the list of invitees but will announce the meeting time, location, purpose and expected parties to the entire NAASC team (at least naasc-cv and naasc-nrc) preferably more than 2 days prior to the meeting.
  3. For standing meetings, all regular participants are expected to be aware of the meeting and to attend regardless of when, or whether, a reminder announcement is made.
  4. The meeting lead will :
    • Send or post an agenda at least 1 day in advance of the meeting
    • Arrange for someone to take meeting notes
    • Keep the meeting on track and on time
      • allow open, discrete, discussions prior to decisions
      • call time if necessary
      • focus the meeting towards clear resolutions to issues
      • form tiger teams /small groups to resolve issues post-meeting when necessary
    • Solicit comments from all participants
    • Enforce the rules of interaction and communication (Section IV).
    • Post meeting minutes in a timely fashion
    • Announce the posting of minutes to the whole of NAASC
  5. Meeting participants will:
    • Do homework in preparation for the meeting
    • Listen actively (don’t check email!)
    • Be respectful
    • When talking be brief, direct and on topic: share air time
    • Speak one at a time, speak clearly to be understood, speak directly to one another
    • Refrain from interrupting other speakers
    • It is OK to disagree, but be constructive when commenting on ideas of other team members, and look to build on ideas
    • Avoid side conversations
    • Keep a record of the meeting relevant to their own needs
    • Have fun!

Incidental Meetings

Incidental meetings are meetings of any significance between 3 or more people that are scheduled in addition to standing meetings.
  1. A lead for the meeting is the person who called the meeting, or a person to be identified by the participants.
  2. The rules for calling, announcing and providing an agenda that apply to standing meetings will be held to for incidental meetings when possible and convenient, but can be waived if circumstances dictate.
  3. The rules of interactions for standard meetings will be adhered to in incidental meetings.
  4. The meeting lead will post brief minutes. The minutes will include:
    • List of participants Date, location, mode.
    • Purpose of the meeting.
    • Assigned actions, assignees, and due dates.
  5. Expected follow-up (including follow-up meeting dates if any)
  6. The minutes for incidental meetings are not required to be detailed.
  7. The results of the meeting should be communicated to the full NAASC team at the next team & group standing meetings.

Informal Meetings

Informal meetings are meetings of any kind between three or more people where it is decided between the participants that it is not necessary to post formal minutes.
  1. The rules for calling, announcing and providing an agenda that apply to standing meetings will be held to for informal meetings when possible and convenient, but can be waived if circumstances dictate.
  2. The rules of interactions for standard meetings will be adhered to in informal meetings.
  3. Appropriate results from the meeting will be communicated to the team/group at the next standing meeting.

Meeting Guidelines

  1. All team/group members are expected to attend the standard meetings of their team/group, and to participate by communicating progress on tasks and by reporting on relevant news and events since the last meeting.
  2. Team members are expected to attend incidental and informal meetings to which they are specifically invited, when possible.
  3. We will avoid being exclusive or exclusionary when meetings are called, by communicating information to the entire group when appropriate, and by welcoming comments from any team members.
  4. We will refrain from overwhelming team members with excessive emails and meeting attendance requests.
  5. It is the responsibility of the team members to read the posted summaries and meeting minutes and follow through on their agreements, action items and accepted task assignments.

NAASC Work Considerations

Electronic Time Keeping and NAASC Account Codes

NA ALMA Operations Account Codes

There are specific account codes to be used for NRAO staff doing work associated with NA ALMA Operations and the NAASC. These account codes should be used to account for work associated with various tasks in support of ALMA operations. This includes time you spend on the task (billed through the NRAO "Electronic Time Keeping" or ETK system), go on travel associated with the task, or purchase equipment or materials for the task. The correct account needs to be included on relevant billing forms (e.g ETK, Travel Authorizations and Travel Expense Vouchers; Purchase Orders). A graphical representation of account codes for NA ALMA Operations including the work elements associated with each is given at on this internal wiki page.

NAASC Staff Base Distributions

Your "base labor distribution" represents the expected fraction of your time over the year that we think you will spend, on average, on various tasks. ... HAVE JASON DESCRIBE....

  • [][Table of NAASC Staff base ETK distributions]]

Recording efforts outside your Base Distribution

For most months, your activities should be distributed roughly according to your base distribution. However, there will be times when you work on specific tasks for a period of time that does not reflect your base distribution. In these cases, we ask that you charge the appropriate time specifically to that task in your monthly ETK. This is particularly true of business trips, which are usually entirely for a single specific activity, e.g. - traveling to Chile, traveling to a software developers meeting, attending a community workshop (other types of activities and their corresponding account codes are listed below). You should bill your travel directly to the relevant account, and make sure that the hours you enter in ETK for that month reflect your effort (i.e., don't simply let your hours be split according to your base distribution for that month).

The more common areas where we expect staff to charge their time on a per-effort basis are given in the following list:
  • 711000 Diversity
  • 721000 Trips to Chile to support JAO (AoD /CSV)
  • 722000 NA-based support in direct support of JAO (working on CSV tasks; Capabilities Working Group, ObsMode WG, working on JAO JIRA tickets, configuration studies)
  • 723000 Science Exchange (visits to another ARC, ARC node, or possibly Chile)
  • 782100 Technical Assessments or Proposal Review support
  • 782200 Visitor Support and Phase2 process: helpdesk, supporting face-to-face support to NAASC visitors, preparing Phase 2 materials and reviewing them with PI's, training for this support
  • 782300 Data Processing & delivery
  • 782500 Participation in Community Training events (CDEs, webinars), documentation
  • 7826xx Software Testing (including subsystem scientist work & meetings to set/evaluate development targets) (xx=10 for CV, =30 for Socorro)
  • 782700 Scientific Travel (for science meetings not covered as part of your functional work)
  • "Admin" code in ETK for time spent in meetings not directly associated with your work in the NAASC
  • "EPO" code in ETK for time spent on EPO efforts (see below)
  • "IR" code in ETK for time spent on Independent Research (see below)

Please note that there are TWO methods for changing the amount of effort that should be charged to accounts. IMPORTANT: Only one of these methods can be used in any given month. If you enter information using the Monthly Percentage method, then enter information using the Duration method, your previous changes will be 'overwritten.'

  • "Monthly Duration" - This is the preferred method for recording changes in effort. Unless you are instructed otherwise by your supervisor, it is enough to simply ensure that your estimated effort is charged to the correct account over the course of the week or month. For example: During the month of June, you spent 16 hours (over 8 days) working on data reduction and have been asked to record this effort on your time sheet. Rather than changing the hourly distribution on 8 days, you may simply choose two days in the month and charge 8 hours, on each day, to the data reduction account.

  • "Monthly Percentage" - If you are instructed by your supervisor to record specific days to a particular account, you should use this method. If, instead of typical duties, you worked 11 days (out of a 22 work-day month) on a project outside your normal work (data reduction, for example), you would use the Monthly Percentage screen to make changes to your ETK distribution. Note that any changes that you make in the Percentage screen will carry over automatically to the following month. For instructions on making percentage-based changes to your ETK effort, please see these Instructions for Changing Monthly Percentage Effort in ETK.

Typically, we only expect your ETK to reflect the aggregate hours for the month spent on particular tasks, and do not expect the day-to-day billing to be strictly followed. e.g., if you spend ~20hrs in a particular month doing Phase2 support, we expect account 782210 to be entered for 20hrs in your monthly ETK, not that your ETK shows that you spent 2.4 hrs on one day, 1 hr on 3 days, etc.

If you have more questions on charging your effort in ETK, please talk to or contact Lyndele von Schill or John Hibbard.

Tracking Science Time and other non-work activities

Another deviation is the time you spend on science. Most NAASC scientific staff are expected to spend some fraction of their working hours on scientific activities not associated with their functional work assignments. This includes scientific research, working with collaborators, writing scientific articles, attending meetings not associated with NAASC work functions, attending science seminars, mentoring students and postdocs, etc. Since scientific excellence is directly related to excellent scientific support, it is important for us to make sure our staff are getting enough time for science. To capture this information, we ask that NAASC scientific staff keep track of the time they spend on scientific activities by using the "IR" code in ETK.

Other special codes are "EPO" for work on Education and Public Outreach activities, "AD" for time spent in meetings not directly associated with your work in the NAASC or for science (e.g. NRAO "all hands" meetings). You use these codes in exactly the same way you would use the codes for Doctors Visits (DV), Vacation (V), etc.

Travel Policies

Each year travel budgets are assigned to NAASC staff. There is an allocation for Duty trips that is managed by group heads or task managers, and another for Science trips not associated with NAASC duties. The later needs to be managed by you. For FY2012, the science travel budget for NAASC Science track staff is $4500, pro-rated by you work effort (e.g. $2250 for staff working 50% for NAASC). Science trips should be billed to account 782700. You should not exceed your yearly budget without authorization from the NAASC AD.

Each trip should be for a specific purpose, and be charged to specific accounts. For each trip (duty or science), staff should fill out a Travel Authorization Form, obtain Division Head approval, and submit it to Lyndele von Schill.

  • NAASC travel policies align with NRAO staff policies
    • Duty travel as required by NAASC
  • All travel schedules should be reviewed with your Group Leader before committing
    • NAASC does not want to supervise your research travel...
    • However, there can be times when all (or most) hands are needed on deck for NAASC duty, when we will ask staff to avoid research trips and other leave, if possible
  • Requests for science travel are handled through the Office of Science and Academic Affairs (OSAA), not NAASC [REALLY? ARE WE DOING THIS? IF SO, ADD DETAILS]
  • Science Travel
    • Science meetings
    • Colloquia, seminars, collaboration visits to research institutions
      • Travel costs come from your science travel allocation
      • Time is counted as research time
  • Duty Travel
    • When NAASC asks you to go on any trip for any NAASC-related purpose
      • Travel costs borne by NAASC
      • All time spent is duty time
    • A Science trip will become a duty trip if NAASC asks you to undertake NAASC duties as well (e.g., giving tutorials, staffing boots, etc.)
      • Travel costs borne by NAASC
      • Time charged to research is restricted to trip time dedicated purely to research

Computer Support

The NAASC will supply employees with a computer that is sufficient for them to perform their work assignments. In some cases, the computer will already be available for your use upon your arrival. If you believe that the system provided is not adequate, you may propose an alternative system to your functional supervisor. If a computer is not already available for your use, you should discuss the issue with your supervisor and be prepared to provide the specs for a system that will meet your needs. The NAASC has budgeted funds for new computing systems for starting employees (if needed) on the order of $3,000 for Post-docs; $4,000 for scientific staff. The NAASC will contribute proportionally to computing support for employees who are only partially supported by the NAASC. Some staff may have particular functional support requirements that require deviations from this baseline. Such needs must be approved by the relevant Group Head.

Once you have received approval/budget information from your supervisor, please open a Helpdesk Ticket and let Lyndele know that you have placed an order.

Computer obsolescence upgrades are covered by the NRAO CIS division. Generally, a new computer is provided every 3-5 yrs. The budget is decided by the CIS division. Increases above their allocated budget must be covered by the NAASC, after approval by the relevant Group Head.

Funds for commercial computer software are generally not provided to individual staff members. Check with CIS whether the software is available somewhere in NRAO. If you require specific software to perform a functional task, you must seek approval from your Group Head. In most cases, CIS must also approve any commercial software purchases.

Office Furniture

Most offices received new furniture in 2010/11. New staff who are assigned to an office with older furniture may request that it be replaced. In most cases, new office furniture will come from IKEA to keep the NAASC furniture consistent. Richard Bishop (0257; has an IKEA catalog and can work with you to select new furniture. If new furniture is approved by your supervisor, the budget would be in the range of $2500.

ALMA Archive Access Policy

The NAASC ALMA Mirror archive will contain all observational data, including unreleased ASDMS and proprietary PI datasets. Access to these data is on a "need to know" basis. In particular, as a member of the ALMA ARC support staff, you may not have access to PI data before the proprietary period has expired, except under the following conditions:
  1. You have been assigned the task of investigating a commissioning or Science Operations issue. Written authorization must be given by the JAO (probably through a CSV or SciOps JIRA ticket). Locally, commissioning work is tracked & organized[1] by the Imaging Tiger Team (CBrogan lead), and SciOps work is tracked & organized[1] by the JAO Support Group (JHibbard lead)
  2. You have been assigned the task of investigating a software issue which requires access to PI data. Assignment will be through the s/w JIRA system. This work is tracked & organized[1] by the NAASC Software Group (BGlendenning lead)
  3. You have been assigned as the official data reducer for that dataset. Written authorization must be given by JAO (Baltasar Vila Vilaro, Lars and/or Andreas Lundgren or their designees, probably through a data reduction JIRA ticket). While data reduction is relegated to ARC staff on data reduction visits to Chile (with follow-up work back at the ARC), this work is tracked and organized[1] by JSG (JHibbard lead). Once ARC-based data reduction starts taking place, this work will be tracked and organized[1] by the Imaging Tiger Team (CBrogan lead)
  4. The data have been released to the ARC for distribution to the PI, and you have been assigned as the ARC "validator" of the data and QA2 products. The "validator" of a project is generally the ARC Contact Scientist identified in the P2G JIRA ticket. Substitutions are arranged through the DSG. This work is tracked & organized[1] by the DSG (MLacy lead).
  5. The data has been released to the PI/co-Is, and you are working with them (either as a collaborator, or for f2f support, or to answer a helpdesk ticket). This work is tracked & organized by the USG (CLonsdale lead)
  6. You are the PI or co-I, and the data has passed QA2 and been released for distribution

For use cases 1-5, use of the data shall be confined to the investigation of the observatory issue. It is not ethical to use the data for any scientific investigation, or as preparation for the same. No public presentation (e.g., at a conference) of these data shall be made.

[1] "Tracked & organized by...": these groups set up the processes for assigning and tracking this support. ARC staff must work with the leads to organize their participation in these processes. i.e., they do not arrange them directly with the JAO.

Topic attachments
I Attachment Action Size DateSorted ascending Who Comment
Slide1.jpgjpg Slide1.jpg manage 64 K 2012-01-19 - 13:43 JohnHibbard Slide of NA ALMA Operations reporting relationships (Jan2012)
NAASCorg_Jan2012.pngpng NAASCorg_Jan2012.png manage 95 K 2012-01-19 - 13:44 JohnHibbard NAASC Organizational Chart (Jan 2012)
percentage_entry-shots.docxdocx percentage_entry-shots.docx manage 275 K 2012-05-21 - 09:31 LyndeleVonSchill  
ALMAStaff_InteralPolicies_final.pdfpdf ALMAStaff_InteralPolicies_final.pdf manage 753 K 2015-07-20 - 12:24 LyndeleVonSchill  
This topic: ALMA > WebHome > NAASC > NAASCOrgPolicies
Topic revision: 2015-08-25, LyndeleVonSchill
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