Important milestones for the LHC and for integrity

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The major news this week is, of course, the start of LHC Run 2. Things went smoothly once the short circuit to ground in sector 3-4 had been resolved on 31 March, and by the time of the morning meeting at the CERN Control Centre on Easter Sunday, everything was ready to thread a beam around the machine. The meeting wrapped up at around 9.45, and by 10.41 the anticlockwise beam had made its first complete orbit. The clockwise beam completed its first turn at 12.27.

There was an atmosphere of excitement in the Control Centre that morning, and the smoothness of proceedings belied the fact that this was the first beam around the LHC for two years. Over that time, the LHC had been transformed, so there was nothing routine about the task in hand, and it’s a great credit to all that things went so well. The schedule now foresees a couple of months of careful commissioning with beam before the start of physics at 13 TeV at the end of May or in early June.

It’s traditional to mark major milestones at CERN with a bottle of champagne. Those of you following the live blog through the day on Sunday may have noticed a slight break with tradition on this occasion, however: there was no champagne, but I have to confess that a great deal of Easter chocolate was consumed. And since the champagne moment came so early in the day, that’s perhaps just as well!

The other subject I want to cover this week is our new policy on conflicts of interest. Have you ever found yourself asked to serve on a selection board for which a member of your family is a candidate? Or been offered tickets for a sporting event by a potential supplier? If so, then you probably realised that by joining the board or accepting the gift, you would have been putting yourself in a position of conflict of interest, and thereby compromising one of CERN’s core values: integrity.

The examples I’ve given above are clear-cut. But what if it had been an old acquaintance applying for the job, or a little box of chocolates instead of tickets to the final? These are situations that we can all find ourselves in, and it is not always obvious whether they represent a conflict of interest or not. That’s one of the reasons we have decided to introduce a policy for the prevention and management of conflicts of interest, to complement the anti-fraud policy that was introduced in 2013.

Like the anti-fraud policy, this new policy applies to anyone acting on behalf of CERN, whether members of the personnel, contractors, consultants or anyone carrying out CERN business. It is based on education – helping people to realise when they may be subject to a conflict of interest so that they have a clear mechanism for the disclosure, discussion and resolution of the situation. Simply stated, whenever you suspect that there may be a conflict of interest, tell your supervisor, and an appropriate course of action can then be determined. Confidentiality is assured, and disciplinary action is taken only if any intentionally concealed conflicts of interest come to light.

The policy was adopted by the Management this week, and is available to consult in full online. I strongly encourage you to familiarise yourself with it, and help us maintain the integrity not only of this Organization, but also your own.