Notes from the Chair of the Board
37th Meeting of the Board of Directors of SKA Organisation held by Video-Conference on 9 September 2021
Prof. Lars Börjesson, Chair of the Board, welcomed directors and invited guests to the 37th Meeting of the Board of Directors of SKA Organisation. There was Board representation from Australia, Canada, China, India, Italy, The Netherlands, South Africa, Sweden, France, Germany, Spain, Switzerland, and the United Kingdom.
Invited guests included representatives from the Australian SKA Office, Department of Atomic Energy (India), European Commission, Korea Astronomy and Space Science Institute, National Astronomical Observatory of Japan, SKA Finance Committee, SKA Observatory (SKAO) and the State Secretariat for Education, Research and Innovation (Switzerland).
Administration and Governance
The meeting commenced with one minute’s silence held in the remembrance of Mr Arun Srivastava who sadly passed away on 18 August 2012. Arun was the Vice-Chair of the SKA Board and a representative from the Department of Atomic Energy (DAE) in India. He was instrumental and influential in the effort to negotiate the SKAO Convention and the preparatory work to establish SKAO, bringing his huge experience and knowledge to bear in countless meetings and discussions. Sincere condolences were passed to his family and colleagues in DAE.
The nomination of Dr Michiel van Haarlem as Voting Director for NWO, Netherlands, and for Dr Luc Simard as Science Director for NRC, Canada were approved. Mr Daan du Toit (NRF, South Africa) and Dr Filippo Zerbi (INAF, Italy) were appointed as ‘Alternate’ Voting Directors for this meeting only.
Prof. Philip Diamond, SKAO Director-General, provided a progress report on activities since the last Board meeting in April 2021. SKA Organisation successfully transitioned to SKAO, an Inter-Governmental Organisation on 1 May 2021. He highlighted the intense period of focused effort by staff to prepare for a fully operational SKAO. A Business Purchase Agreement was successfully executed to support the transition by setting out the terms by which SKA Organisation’s staff, assets and liabilities transferred to SKAO.
The Board approved the extended appointment of Mr Colin Greenwood as Company Secretary of SKA Organisation.
The Board received a report from Mr David Luchetti, Chair of the Finance Committee, on the outcomes of the 21st Finance Committee meeting, held on 8 July 2021. The main items of business were the Audit Findings Report for 2020, the Report and Financial Statements for the year ending 31 December 2020, the management accounts for 2021 to date, and the proposed revisions to the Finance Committee’s Mandate, Terms of Reference and Rules of Procedure.
The Board unanimously authorised the Company Secretary and a director to sign the company’s Report and Financial Statements for the period ended 31 December 2020.
Ms Caroline Whiteley, Chief Finance Officer, SKAO, presented an update in relation to the SKA Organisation’s finances, noting the year-end closing cash position and summary of Member Contributions. The Board noted the forecasted operating expenditure and cash flow for the remaining months of the Organisation’s operation.
Dr Catherine Cesarsky, Chair of SKAO Council, reported the key outcomes of SKAO Council meetings held in April and June this year. She presented the approvals made – the key decisions by Council being to proceed with transition and to start Construction of the SKA telescopes. Dr Cesarsky also shared an update on SKAO’s membership, noting that Council has approved the accession of Spain and France.
Ms Theresa Devaney, Head of Strategy, presented an update on the planning for the dissolution (closure) of the company in accordance with its Articles of Association. Following the transition to SKAO on 1 May 2021, the remaining company activities have been supported by nominated SKAO staff. The dissolution will be achieved through a voluntary process which culminates in removal of SKA Organisation from the UK Companies House register of companies. The action to start the dissolution will be triggered by a decision of the company’s Members to enact the closure processes. It is expected that action to close the company will commence in early-2022 and that statutory processes will be completed by mid-2022.
The Board endorsed the indicative timeline and approach for dissolution of the company and recommended their approval by Members.
Future Board Meetings
Prof. Lars Börjesson, Chair of the Board, noted that this is expected to be the final Board meeting and he thanked all those involved in, or who have supported, the Board over the past years. The company’s mission has been successfully completed and construction of the SKA has been commenced by SKAO.
Prof. Lars Börjesson
Chair, SKA Board of Directors
21 September 2021
Below is an archive of all the previous Notes from the Chair