Research Technologies (including Advanced Biomedical Information Technology Core) policy on prioritization of activities and use of resources

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Policy statement

As members of the Indiana University community, staff of the Research Technologies division of UITS, a Cyberinfrastructure and Service Center affiliated with the IU Pervasive Technology Institute (PTI), adhere to all university policies related to the use of IT resources. None of these policies specifically addresses the prioritization of activities in service to IU by the Research Technologies division of UITS, in general, or the Advanced Biomedical IT Core (ABITC), in particular.

IU has a long and proud tradition of open access to its research computing facilities, going back to policies set in the 1950s by Marshall Wrubel, the first director appointed as head of research computing at IU. Historically, UITS has avoided "nuisance fees" for research services and has provided services as best possible to all who asked. UITS also has worked aggressively with IU faculty to bring grant funding for hardware and staff resources to IU. As a result, the university has been able to expand its cyberinfrastructure resources (hardware and personnel) more rapidly than many of its peers and competitors.

IU's advanced cyberinfrastructure has a particularly large and diverse group of users, and the university's research and creative activities have been broadly enhanced by its investment in cyberinfrastructure. However, one result of this situation is that UITS faces more demand for computing resources, consulting services, and programming staff than it can possibly meet, and the current economic situation makes it impossible to expand resources to meet demand. Furthermore, history shows that expanding resources generates even greater demand. This document sets out policies relevant to prioritization of activities and use of resources.

Commitments of resource as part of grant budgets or formal commitments in support of grant awards

Commitments of resource as part of grant budgets or formal commitments in support of grant awards will be made via internal proposals, approved at the relevant level within ABITC/UITS:

  • Commitments < $25,000: Director and Office of the Vice President for Information Technology (OVPIT) Finance Office
  • Commitments between $25,000 and $100,000: Associate Dean and OVPIT Finance Office
  • Commitments > $100,000: Vice President for Information Technology

Commitments of effort through subcontracts and/or funding allocations are approved via the established processes for routing of grant proposal and grant award documents. Such commitments will be honored and fulfilled without fail unless some factor beyond the control of Research Technologies or the ABITC requires invocation of a force majeure clause.

Allocation of CPU time, storage space, and consulting/programming effort funded by OVPIT base budgets

Each year, early in the spring semester, UITS will announce an internal proposal process similar to the existing process used by the Office of the Vice Provost for the Faculty Research Support Program.

UITS will establish allocation thresholds above which a formal request for an allocation will be required. These thresholds are as follows:

  • 50,000 CPU (wall-clock) hours per year
  • 50 TB of disk storage
  • 100 TB of tape storage per year
  • One person-month per year in extended consulting/programming effort

Allocation thresholds will be adjusted periodically. For example, the threshold for computation indicated above is such that fewer than 25 IU faculty members would exceed it over the course of the current fiscal year.

Researchers who expect to exceed the default allocations listed above will be asked to submit proposals requesting those resources. The proposal process requires a two-page proposal, and standard NSF-format mini-bios for the PI and any Co-PIs identified. See Appendix 1 (below) for the online form for requesting extended consulting effort.

UITS staff will work with a committee of leading faculty to review proposals, resulting in one of the following outcomes:

  • A request is viewed as highly meritorious and can be fulfilled using IU resources.
  • A request is viewed as highly meritorious but is beyond what can be fulfilled using IU resources alone. In such cases, part but not the entire request will be fulfilled with IU resources. Additionally, the review committee will provide a recommendation that the PI work with UITS staff to prepare and submit a request for resources to XSEDE, Open Science Grid, DOE InCite program, Amazon Web Services Research Grants, or other national source.
  • A request is viewed as other than highly meritorious, and resources in excess of the default allocations will not be awarded. In such cases, faculty will be invited to apply for resources on XSEDE or Open Science Grid, and will be supported in such efforts by UITS staff. However, supercomputing time on UITS resources will still be made available to researchers in this category but only at very low priority relative to other researchers.

Recognizing that sometimes emergencies or particularly high-priority needs arise on an unpredictable basis, OVPIT and UITS would retain the ability to allocate CPU time (or priority access to all job queues) to important projects that arise on short notice, but under a memorandum of understanding (MOU) via which faculty members commit to requesting allocations on XSEDE or from other facilities.

Likewise, recognizing that new faculty come to IU each summer, and that unanticipated needs arise, OVPIT and UITS would anticipate allocating less than the total amount of resources (consulting and systems) available each year, so they can retain the flexibility to react to needs as they arise.

The faculty review committee includes a representative group of faculty from the College of Arts and Science, the IU School of Music, the School of Informatics, Computing, and Engineering, at least one regional campus, and other academic units, as appropriate.

UITS will provide assistance and advice in preparation of proposals to this internal process. The goal of this policy is to create high-quality proposals to facilitate the best use of valuable IU resources and taxpayer funds.

Relationship to Empowering People

This policy supports achievement of the following Empowering People actions:

  • Recommendation A1
    • Action 4: Cyberinfrastructure. IU should continue to advance its local cyberinfrastructure, participation in national cyberinfrastructure, and its efforts to win federal funding of cyberinfrastructure programs that enhance IU's research capabilities. (RT leads)
    • Action 5: Philosophy of abundance. IU should pursue strategies that approximate a philosophy of abundance, within reason, towards unmetered availability of basic IT services, support, and infrastructure for creative activity, storage, computation, communication, and other activities fundamental to the work of the university via any appropriate sourcing strategy. (EI leads; RT supporting)
    • Action 6: Leveraging partnerships. IU should continue its highly successful program of relationships with hardware, software, and services vendors, and seek additional partnerships and creative exchanges that provide mutual benefits. (S leads; RT supporting)
  • Recommendation A4
    • Action 16: External funding. OVPIT should continue to lead and expand its efforts to effectively partner with academic units, campuses, administrative units, or individual investigators for external funding opportunities. (PTI leads; RT supporting)
  • Recommendation A7
    • Action 25: Research into IT. IU should support and pursue research into information technology itself. IT professionals and faculty should seek partnership opportunities for scholarly publication and invention disclosure that document meritorious research and discovery. (PTI leads; RT supporting)
  • Recommendation C15
    • Action 70: IT-enabled research. IU should purposefully select areas of great and timely promise for strategic development of IT-enabled research, scholarship, and/or creative activity. (PTI leads)
    • Action 71: IT-enabled research resources. IU should identify a base of resources to provide both initial and sustained investments in selected areas for IT-enabled research, scholarship, and/or creative activity. This may include reallocating current resources and developing new ones, including endowments, grants, and/or additional fees. (RT leads)

Policy authors

  • Craig Stewart, Associate Dean, Research Technologies, and Executive Director, Pervasive Technology Institute
  • Matthew Link, Director, Systems, Research Technologies
  • David Hancock, Manager, High Performance Systems, Research Technologies
  • Robert Henschel, Manager, Scientific Applications and Performance Tuning, Research Technologies

Policy approved by:

  • IUPUI Faculty Council Information Technology Subcommittee, 2010
  • IUB Faculty Council Information Technology Subcommittee, 2010

Appendix 1: Form for applying for Extended Consultation Support from Research Technologies and the Advanced Biomedical Information Technology Core

Extended Consulting request form

The Research Technologies division of UITS, affiliated with the Pervasive Technology Institute and including the Advanced Biomedical Information Technology Core, supports innovation and new discoveries by IU researchers through consulting services and collaborative research and development. Research Technologies works with IU researchers using IU's advanced cyberinfrastructure to enable new discoveries and enhance IU's competitiveness for external support. Research Technologies offers in-depth consulting to IU researchers in bioinformatics, parallel programming and use of IU supercomputers, statistical and mathematical computing, and Linix system administration. Experts in the relevant software technologies and research concerns, who are well versed in the research process, staff these areas.

Besides CPU time, Research Technologies offers, generally, three additional types of allocated resources:

  • Short consultations: Short consulting interactions typically involve solving one or a few specific problems, and are often conducted by telephone or email. To support a large number of students and faculty with a limited number of staff, we must focus primarily on getting people started and on providing short-term consulting.
  • Extended consultations: Extended consultations involve collaborative efforts that last typically from half a day to three months. Such consulting efforts permit the completion of small- to moderate-scale projects, or pilot projects undertaken to obtain grant funding for large-scale projects. The first step in establishing an extended consulting agreement is to meet with a Research Technologies staff; the second is to complete an extended consulting agreement.
  • Grant-funded collaborations: UITS staff are regularly involved in grant-funded research, where external funding makes it possible to devote several months or years to a particular problem. Such projects often develop out of extended consulting interactions and sometimes directly in response to grant solicitations. A good first step in starting such an interaction is to contact the Collaboration and Engagement Support Group (CESG).

Guidelines for and terms of Research Technologies extended consulting services

  • Extended consulting, by Research Technologies, in support of academic research is generally provided without charge, subject to availability of staff time. The ABITC, typically, does not provide free extended consultation. Grant support is either arranged as a percent effort covering salary, fringe benefits and Institutional Cost Recovery, or at the flat Core pay rate of $79/hour, although the latter approach is not the preferred method. ABITC or RT staff may provide services for free when the researcher is engaged in exploratory research to generate preliminary data with the intent of applying for a grant, and when staff is available. In return for this free support, ABITC expects that our staff will be included and supported as part of the submitted grant. We do not provide free consulting for projects that you arrange privately with entities outside IU. However, you may arrange for contract consulting or programming for such projects, if such can be done within our mission of academic support. If consulting interactions involve expendable materials, their cost is your responsibility.
  • Staff can help with all aspects of your projects, but usually do not engage in algorithm development, or do routine system administration. Extended consulting projects must have a definite goal.
  • UITS adheres firmly to all research-related policies, regulations, procedures, and guidelines.

A condition of extended consulting agreements is that the copyright and authorship acknowledgments never be removed from the code. In the case of minor contributions to the code, acknowledgment is done without UITS employees or UITS becoming a participant in ownership of the intellectual property.

  • If UITS staff contribute intellectually to the development of important pieces of computer code, including major modifications of existing code or the creation of entirely new code modules, UITS is considered a participant in the creation of intellectual property as described in university's Intellectual Property Policy (UA-05).
  • Software developed is often released as open source under one of the several applicable open source licenses. UITS endorses and supports this so long as the open source distribution is approved by IURTC per its existing policies and so long as copyright and authorship attributions are as indicated above.
  • In exchange for extended consulting services being provided at no direct charge (i.e., as a base-funded service of UITS), your obligations are as follows:
    • Provide on request, and at least once annually, a listing of publications stemming from, based on, or facilitated by extended consulting services provided by UITS must acknowledge any appropriate grant support (as described here), as well as consulting support provided by UITS, preferably including acknowledgment of the consultant(s) you work with by name.
    • Provide on request, and at least once annually, a listing of Web pages presenting research stemming from, based upon, or facilitated by extended consulting services provided by UITS must acknowledge any appropriate grant support (as described in here). If possible, a link to the website of the service you used is greatly appreciated.
    • You agree to respond to periodic requests for information about your publications and research information presented online so that we may include citations in our online database of publications about or enabled by Research Technologies services and/or grants to UITS/RT.

To engage Research Technologies staff/resources for extended consultation, fill out the Extended Consulting request form entirely.

Appendix 2: ABITC Implementation Plan for Prioritization of Work and Timely Completion

The ABITC is usually involved with multiple projects at any single time and careful allocation of resources is necessary to meet diverse project requirements and deadlines. The project deliverables are typically captured in a memorandum of understanding (MOU) to delineate the scope, timeline, and budget for the project. In general, the ABITC will prioritize effort and resources, in consultation with the client, to balance the deliverables for a particular project, and overarching ABITC goals.

The ABITC strives to meet or exceed the RT policy of on-time project completion. In pursuit of this goal, the ABITC will provide timely project updates to the client, and discuss any deviations from the MOU that could affect the delivery timeline. If any deviations are necessary, the ABITC will shift resources and personnel to maintain project delivery commitments. The MOU will detail the scope, resources, timeline, and personnel to be involved in the project. If the project requires complex coordination with other groups, the MOU will detail the commitments, and procedures necessary to achieve this coordination. The MOU will also specify project roles, communication procedures, and any other tactical procedures necessary for successful project conclusion. The MOU will also specify escalation procedures in order to ensure that an external party with administrative control can enforce ABITC adherence to the MOU. If any of these factors detailed in the MOU need to be changed, the manager or director of ABITC, and the client will discuss the altered circumstances, arrive at a mutually satisfactory arrangement, and document the changes in the MOU.

The ABITC strives to develop secure and stable applications that can host HIPAA-regulated data in a safe and secure manner. Our practices are meant to minimize risk for the individual project and the university cyberinfrastructure as a whole, and are an over-riding concern. In emergency situations, the ABITC may have to temporarily shift resources, on a priority basis, to deal with a security issue. The ABITC will notify all affected parties and discuss approaches whereby requirements and deadlines can still be achieved.

This is document apmw in the Knowledge Base.
Last modified on 2018-10-10 15:58:28.

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