On June 28/29, 2004, the IRAM Executive Council held its annual meeting at the Max-Planck-Institut für Extraterrestrische Physik in Garching/Germany. The three most important points on the Agenda were
The Report from the Visiting Committee which is co-signed by Paul VandenBout as the Chairman, and Chris Carilli, Ron Ekers, Richard Hills, Malcolm Longair, and Malcolm Walmsley as members, comments positively on IRAM's past, present and future role, its ongoing development plans, and its longer term options beyond 2009, the limiting date for the current CNRS/IGN/MPG partnership agreement. One of the key recommendations from the Committee is that the IRAM funding organizations should already now agree to extend their contract until 2014, i.e. for a period of 10 years as of today. The Committee felt that the options beyond 2014, i.e. the period when ALMA will be fully operational, should be the subject of another review in the 2009/10 timeframe.
Concerning the new access to the Plateau de Bure, the Technical Division of the CNRS together with the CNRS-INSU Administration has successfully completed all preparatory steps for building a horizontal tunnel and a vertical elevator to bridge the altitude range from about 2350m to 2550m, i.e. the last part of the access to the plateau. The lower part was supposed to be bridged by a telecabin system between the Superdévoluy ski station at about 1500m and the beginning of the tunnel. Given the fact that neither the financing nor the delay for building this system are clearly defined today, and considering that the total cost of this end-to-end solution will be very high, it was decided at the Council meeting to look into alternative solutions that could be build faster and at a lower total cost.
The members of the IRAM direction are appointed for periods of 5 years in accordance with the IRAM statutes. The current terms of office for both Michel Guélin et myself will end in the coming months. The Council has decided that Michel Guélin shall continue as IRAM's Deputy Director until the end of 2004, and that Pierre Cox will take this position as of 1.1.2005 for 1 year, before becoming the new IRAM Director on 1.1.2006. My own mandate has been extended by 1 year, i.e. until the 31st December 2005. This arrangement will give us the opportunity for a smooth hand-over of responsibilities.