Response to the PO's reequest for a schedule of actions, to be provided to her by 27th August 2012

The new Project Officer Manuela Speiser has requested a response by 27 August to the condition of being in breach of contract. The reasons she gives for this breach are:

  • under-performance overall (missing deliverables, no activities reported in several work packages)
  • non-performance of two partners
  • delay in reporting (the annual report was due 60 days after the end of the first period, i.e. on 1 March)

She writes: "We have to take this seriously and remedy the situation as fast as possible. However, I am well aware that this is difficult in the middle of the summer and that it means a considerable workload for you. I thus invite you to suggest by 27th August a reasonable schedule for all actions required, based upon which we will take any further decisions. I should perhaps also point you to the possibility that the consortium can request a suspension in the case that you need some "free" time to solve all issues before continuing the work."

The following text is intended to be the schedule that she requests.

FINAL VERSION OF TEXT AS SENT ON 23 AUGUST 2012 IS BELOW - DO NOT EDIT IT


Dear Manuela,

In your email of 31 July 2012, you write:

Finally, despite our decision in June not to suspend the funding, I am sorry to inform you that you are currently in a situation that constitutes a multiple breach of contract:

  • under-performance overall (missing deliverables, no activities reported in several work packages)
  • non-performance of two partners
  • delay in reporting (the annual report was due 60 days after the end of the first period, i.e. on 1 March)
We have to take this seriously and remedy the situation as fast as possible. However, I am well aware that this is difficult in the middle of the summer and that it means a considerable workload for you. I thus invite you to suggest by 27th August a reasonable schedule for all actions required, based upon which we will take any further decisions.

Please accept this letter as the response to your request.

The actions required may be divided according to three timescales. They are consistent with our "Year 2+" plan, though we are aware that this still needs to be discussed in detail with you, and that we do need your confirmation for some of the items of that plan.

1. Short-term actions

1.1 Overdue and rejected deliverables

We will submit the following deliverables by 1 September:

  • D44.1 Communication plan (with minor edits that you requested)
  • D44.2 Annual report on communication activities (Month 12 version)
  • D46.1 International liaison communication report (Month 14 version)

Please note that D44.2 and D46.1 are simply brief snapshots of progress in these areas of communication during the first year, before the network had much material to communicate. They will be updated in the next versions of the deliverables before the second review meeting.

I have already clarified the situation with regard to D12.1, the microsite for staff exchanges. This site and url were listed on the Deliverable Submission Sheet as deliverable 12.1 for APARSEN when the package of deliverables was submitted to the EC in April, though it appears that the reviewers were not aware of this.

1.2 Periodic Report for first year

We will resubmit this report by 1 September, with the changes and additions requested in your email of 27 July.

We will also submit the amended cost statements in the online NEF tool by 1 September.

1.3 Public website

A web page with public deliverables exists at http://www.alliancepermanentaccess.org/index.php/aparsen/aparsen-deliverables/. We have updated these deliverables with versions reflecting your requested edits (removal of IST logo and PO's address).

We will include the changes you have suggested to improve the usability of the website as part of a redesign currently being worked on. Please be aware that the development of the public website is being planned and managed by a dedicated team within the APARSEN network, and it will develop to reflect the evolving vision of the Virtual Centre of Excellence through the network's lifetime. In particular we plan to have a major relaunch of the website before the APA conference 7-8 November.

1.4 Regularisation of the withdrawal of Philips and Microsoft

We have a formal letter of withdrawal from Philips and will obtain one from Microsoft. Microsoft had no funding from the EC, and Philips has stated that they will not make a claim for their work before withdrawal, and they did not receive any prefinancing, so the situation is simplified. Note that it is however connected with the wider contract amendment due to the revision of the Description of Work - see below.

2. Continuing actions up to the second project review in March 2013

2.1 Deliverables due between now and then according to the current DoW

We will ensure that the deliverables listed as due up to M26 are submitted in time for the review meeting planned for M27, with the exceptions noted below. The deliverables will undergo the internal review and QA procedure that is specified in the Project Quality Management Plan, and we also expect to involve the External Advisory Committee in assessing drafts of some of these deliverables.

  • D22.2(i) Set of added value services and evaluation of user satisfaction
  • D26.1 Report and strategy on annotation, reputation and data quality
  • D14.1 Report on testing environments (postponed from M14)
  • D16.1 Software repository (postponed from M14)
  • D42.1 Report on existing initiatives and curricula regarding digital long term preservation
  • D21.1 Design of preservation services
  • D44.2(ii) Annual report on communication activities
  • D11.1(ii) Comparison of research programmes as a measure of integration
  • D12.1(ii) Report on a common vision of digital preservation
  • D13.1(ii) Report about standardisation activities
  • D15.1(i) Register of workshops and attendees
  • D15.2(i) Collection of workshop recordings and evaluation of their possible impact on the whole community
  • D23.1 Storage solutions report
  • D25.1 Interoperability objectives and approaches
  • D32.1 Report on cost parameters for digital repositories
  • D34.1 Report on brokerage options and estimate of usage (but see note below)
  • D34.2 Brokerage server report (but see note below)
  • D36.2 Exemplar business cases for each of the stakeholder groups
  • D41.1(ii) Workshops planning and summary report
  • D46.1(ii) International liaison communication report

We are aware that the earlier deliverables in this list are already overdue, or are about to become due. We propose to submit them as a single batch at the end of September. We regret the delays but the necessity of responding to the review and checkpoint have caused some disruption to the schedule.

Please note that:

  • D12.2 is to be deleted, as WP12 will be suppressed.
  • D26.1 (due end of June) has been further postponed to the end of September. The further delay is mainly due to engagement of the WP26 leader AFPUM in the PMB and the fact that the second extension overlaps with the summer holiday season. There is great attention among the APARSEN partners concerning the deliverable of the individual project WPs due to the many thematic overlaps between them. However in the case of D26.1 there is no dependency with any of the other tasks and respective deliverables.
  • D34.1 and D34.2 are likely to be deleted as WP34 is suppressed, as proposed in the Year 2+ plan.
  • D36.1 (also due end of June) has been rescheduled in the Year 2+ plan to the end of the year.

2.2 Revision of D43.1

We welcome your practical comments regarding resubmission of D43.1 and are confident that the requested changes can be delivered. We accept that the addition of non-English-language training courses will increase the value of the deliverable. The specific request to identify an additional 40 non-English-language training courses (as a minimum) has already begun. In addition the work package team would like to extend the time frame of the analysis to the end of July 2012, thus ensuring that the report is up to date. Staff vacations during August means we have not yet fixed a re-submission date for D43.1 but it is our intention to submit it ahead of the review giving you the option of approving it directly, or including it in the Year 2 review. The resubmission will include a commentary highlighting the changes as well as the forward training plan.

2.4 Membership of the network

As mentioned below, we will seek replacement partner(s) for Philips and Microsoft. We will continue to monitor the performance of participants in the network and take such action as is needed to ensure its effectiveness. In particular please be aware that IKI-RAS has indicated a desire to withdraw after the second year of the project, since it has proved impossible to establish a successful working relationship due to language difficulties and visa restrictions. In addition, there is another partner whose performance is causing concern. The Project Management Board is taking steps as agreed by the General Assembly towards a possibly defaulting partner. I will be able to give more information in due course.

3. Revision of the Description of Work

Although we expect to regularise the withdrawal of Philips and Microsoft very quickly, the revision of the Description of Work will necessarily take longer. We note your approval in principle of retaining the budget of Philips for introducing one or two other industrial partners or redistributing the resources allocated to them among the existing partners.

We will make contacts with potential replacement partners over the coming months, though it is not reasonable to expect them to commit to join the project while its future is still in doubt. Thus we propose the following indicative timetable working towards a formal contract amendment shortly after the next review.

Month Activities
September WP and stream-level proposals for rationalisation of WPs and effort
Identification of roles of partner(s) to replace MS and Philips
Completion of formalities around withdrawal of MS and Philips
October Stream-level and network-level integration of proposals for rationalisation
Contact with PO for input, advice and general approval
Initial contacts with candidate new partners
November Project meeting (including General Assembly) at APA conference
Agreement of changes to DoW
December Detailed redrafting and finalisation of revised DoW
Contact with PO for approval
January Finalising M26 deliverables
February Finalising M26 deliverables
Preparation for review meeting, including presentation of DoW revision
March Project review meeting
April Formalisation of DoW through contract amendment, with introduction of new partners

I trust that you will find this plan satisfactory. I am of course happy to discuss it if you wish.


-- SimonLambert - 2012-08-14

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