COVID-19 Response Update
When I last wrote in late March, SERDP and ESTCP were just beginning remote operations and uncertain how long the situation would last. Here we are almost three months later and not much has changed. Northern Virginia and the District of Columbia are just starting the re-opening process and telework is still encouraged to the maximum extent possible.
Over the past two months we have had very successful on-line In-progress Reviews in all five Program Areas. All but a handful of our Investigators were able to fully participate with both video and audio as were many members of the Technical Committees. Each of the Program Areas had minor variations on the questions of videos on or off during the presentations, control of the slides, how and when to entertain questions, etc. We are in the process of comparing notes and will settle on a set of “best practices” for future IPRs.
The primary disappointment for me from the IPRs was the sparse attendance by other PIs and their teams. When the IPRs are in Washington it is not unusual to have a full audience of other PIs that were in for the day. The IPRs are a great way to find out what others working on the same, or a similar, problem are doing and, as long as the IPRs continue to be on-line, this can be accomplished at almost no cost. I’d like to encourage all members of our research teams to look at upcoming IPR schedules carefully and plan to attend any relevant presentations.
Just as with the IPRs, several other meetings and conferences we planned for this summer have been converted to on-line events. The 2020 ASETSDefense Workshop team has modified the conference agenda and is implementing an innovative on-line poster approach. The conference will be held as planned in early August. This conference and the project meetings we have planned for the next couple of months will teach us all some valuable lessons about virtual conferences that I am afraid we will have to apply for the next six to nine months.
As I said in March, we recognize that many of our performers are locked out of their labs and having to contemplate ( or have already) cancelling planned field experiments. Please continue to coordinate with your Program Manger as these decisions are made. Inevitably, these delays will have impact on milestones and contract completion dates. Our contracting office, HECSA, has been very proactive about addressing delays resulting from these shutdowns.