Keeping HL-LHC accountable

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This week saw the cost and schedule of the High Luminosity LHC (HL-LHC) and LHC Injectors Upgrade (LIU) projects come under close scrutiny from the external review committee set up for the purpose. 

HL-LHC, whose implementation requires an upgrade to the CERN injector complex, responds directly to one of the key recommendations of the updated European Strategy for Particle Physics, which urges CERN to prepare for a ‘major luminosity upgrade’, a recommendation that is also perfectly in line with the P5 report on the US strategy for the field.

Responding to this recommendation, CERN set up the HL-LHC project in 2013, partially supported by FP7 funding through the HiLumi LHC Design Study (2011-2015), and coordinated with the American LARP project, which oversees the US contribution to the upgrade. A key element of HL-LHC planning is a mechanism for receiving independent expert advice on all aspects of the project.  To this end, several technical reviews have been conducted over the last two years, while this week it was the turn of the cost and schedule to come under scrutiny.

The review committee consists of the CERN Machine Advisory Committee (CMAC), supplemented by five additional members from laboratories and universities around the world with expertise in domains specifically related to the main HL-LHC technologies. Their brief is to ensure that cost estimates are realistic and achievable, and, equally importantly, to cast a critical eye over the proposed schedule, allowing us to focus on critical path items, and make adjustments if necessary.

The committee has given the project a clean bill of health, along with issuing a number of recommendations that the project management will now digest and factor into CERN’s medium-term plan to be presented to the Council in June. HL-LHC is a key part of CERN’s medium-term strategy, designed to ensure that the global particle physics community is able to exploit the full potential of the LHC. Ensuring that its ambitions are technically and financially realistic and planned to an achievable schedule is all part of good governance, keeping the project accountable to funding agencies and physicists alike.