Background: We currently have agreements (or will) with Chandra, Fermi, HST, and Swift to provide a percentage of NRAO telescope time for proposals submitted to these facilities. One new feature is that it looks like these agreements will be mostly reciprocal (NRAO proposals can ask for time on these telescopes). In the past we have received a pdf file of the proposal and manually input some of this info into various tools (e.g., PHT, DSS, etc.). Our plan is to input this info into the PST and then allow data to flow downstream to the various tools so we do not duplicate effort. Each of the four facilities has been contacted and they can provide some of this info in a more accessible format so we do not have to enter data manually. It would be useful if we all could agree on a comment format.
Data Format: We agreed that the best format is XML. There was some discussion if XML was the best for the source list. We currently have a semicolon separated list in ASCII for the PST. But this should not be a problem in XML.
Proposal ID: We need to be able to identify that these proposals are external. The current plan is to define the proposal id as "XTEL/<complete external proposal identifier>" where X is for external and TEL is either GBT, VLA, or VLBA. There is an issue for the GBT in that they are currently restricted to 10 characters (the VLBA is restricted to 5 but it uses the legacy id). There were other concerns that it is usually a bad idea to combine different attributes into one parameter. So we agreed to the following. Create a new PST field which is the external proposal id, and keep the same behavior for the current proposal id. So when an external proposal is submitted the same mechanism will be used to generate the id (e.g., GBT/12B-012). It may or may not be relevant for semester 12B depending on the timing of the external TAC relative to the NRAO TAC but it was felt that this should not be a problem.
Other Tools: There was some discussion about how this information flows downstream to other tools. For observing and scheduling this should work just fine. There was some concern about the PHT since it works on a specific cadence during the review process. But it handles DDT proposals and thus can do the same thing for these external proposals.
Plan: The plan is to develop a design and example to transfer this information between telescopes. We then present this to Chandra, Fermi, HST, and Swift as a common way to exchange this information. Since the HST is the first facility that will have a reciprocal agreement with NRAO, we will use their deadline for when we would like to have this ready. There was some concern that we might have endless meetings trying to agree on the format. It was agreed that we should not get mired down in such discussions and back off if this appears too much effort. We can always write programs to convert each telescope format which is at least straight forward.