We just got back from the March XSEDE Resource Allocations Committee Meeting (XRAC) that was held at New York New York Las Vegas Hotel and Casino. These quarterly XRAC meetings are where allocations requests are approved or in some cases denied, for each allocation cycle. I’m sure many of our XSEDE users wonder how and why the allocations decisions are made regarding their specific requests. Well have no fear, I’m here to tell you exactly what goes down in detail.
Our meetings typically start on a Sunday night with a small reception consisting of about 30-40 reviewers, and about 10-15 XSEDE site representatives and allocations staff. Reviewers usually sign on for three year review terms, so this reception is a great time for us all to meet the new guys or girls that have joined the review board that quarter. More importantly, this is also where the Gorge Fest starts. Usually while we’re milling around chatting, and enjoying a tasty beverage, there are appetizers to hold everyone over until dinner.
Immediately following the reception, we’re ushered into a meeting room that features a full buffet. The buffet differs for each meeting, but since this quarter’s meeting was in a New York themed hotel, the buffet was a New York City tour with Hot Dogs, falafel, General Tso’s Chicken, Penne Alla vodka, Catch of the Day, Beef Brisket, and an array of salads and desserts.
Once we’re all adequately stuffed we move into a different room where the meeting really starts. Usually, it begins with a series of presentations from the various site and NSF representatives outlining any new resource updates or policy changes for this allocation period. Once everyone is up to speed, we move onto one of the most important parts of the entire process, the caucus. Prior to the meeting reviewers are assigned a number of proposals to read and review before they arrive. Depending on the type of proposal, it could have anywhere from 2-4 reviewers assigned to it. During the caucus, the reviewers for each proposal get together and discuss the merits and in some cases demerits of each proposal. They come to consensus, and prepare their recommendation(s) to present to the entire review board the next day. This can take a while and reviewers are often up late to make sure they can caucus for each proposal.
It’s usually after 10 or 11 p.m. once all of the reviewers have trickled out of the room and the allocations staff calls it quits for the night. I’m starting get hungry again, with all this talk about food, so I’m going to grab a snack. Stop back next week for part 2 of the XRAC meetings, aka Quarterly Gorge Fests recap.