We are creating a unified UKRI website that brings together the existing research council, Innovate UK and Research England websites.
If you would like to be involved in its development let us know.

UK SKA Oversight Committee and Programme Board

UK SKA Consortia Oversight Committee


Professor Mark Birkinshaw (University of Bristol) Chair
Professor Brian Ellison (STFC-RAL)
Professor Phil Charles (University of Southampton)
Dr Richard Cole (MSSL/University College London)
Professor Graham Woan (University of Glasgow)
Professor Andrew Blain (University of Leicester)

STFC Contacts:

George Madden (Head of SKA Project Office)
Simon Haynes (SKA Project Office)

Terms of Reference

The UK Square Kilometre Array (SKA) Oversight Committee (OsC) is a key part of the STFC’s governance and oversight framework and has been established by STFC to provide independent advice, oversight and review of the Square Kilometre Array (SKA) project on issues of risk and project cost, schedule and scope over the lifetime of the project.

The SKA Project is now entering a period called “Bridging” – a period between the end of the pre-construction design work for each element of the project and the start of formal construction of the SKA, which will commence once the SKA Organisation (SKAO) has become an Intergovernmental Organisation (IGO) and has created an agreed construction proposal.

STFC is funding the UK’s contribution to the bridging phase (described above) from the 1st October 2019 over a 30 month period. The work is being undertaken by the Universities of Cambridge, Oxford and Manchester with further work contributed from the STFC laboratories at RAL and the UK-ATC.

The OsC is independent of the project’s management and provides independent expert advice on scientific, technical and management matters to the STFC Programmes Directorate.

The OsC monitors the project in sufficient detail to enable STFC to intervene if necessary and recommends appropriate actions that STFC or the project may need to take.  The OsC also acts as a ‘critical friend’ to the collaboration, providing support and challenge to the project’s management.

The OsC will meet face to face every six months with videoconferences scheduled between these meetings. This will allow the OsC to obtain a greater oversight and thus be aware of any important developments within the project at an earlier stage and allow the OsC to make more informed and timely recommendations.

The OsC will receive progress reports and presentations from the Project Manager and others if required. Project representatives will be invited to attend meetings of the OsC but are not members of the Committee.  The Committee may seek other sources of input as necessary.

Where there is a significant risk or material change to the cost, scope or schedule of the project then the STFC SKA Programmes Directorate will bring this to the attention of the UK SKA Programme Board.

The OsC will perform the following activities:

  1. Receive and review at each meeting, reports on progress, risk and finance with the UK elements of the programme against the approved deliverables and milestones taking into account the wider global aspects of the SKA project;
  1. Monitor the project spend to ensure that this remains within the approved budget;
  1. Maintain an oversight of the major risks to the UK SKA programme by reviewing proposals for their control and mitigation and monitoring their implementation;
  1. Assess and approve as appropriate, proposals to amend the planned programme of work of the UK SKA programme, with reference to the scientific requirements and the wider global aspects of the SKA programme;
  1. Advise STFC on the science priorities if it becomes necessary to re-scope the programme and advise on the scientific objectives of the revised programme.
  1. Assess and recommend, as appropriate, the activities of the programme in promoting knowledge transfer.
  1. Provide updates to the UK SKA Programme Board 
  1. Undertake a final review of the projects on completion.

Members will be appointed by STFC and STFC will provide secretarial support.

UK-SKA Programme Board

The entire UK-SKA programme will be overseen by the SKA Programme Board which reports to the STFC Executive Board and Council. The Programme Board will review and advise on matters that affect the UK’s presence in the project. Such matters may cover policy and technical decisions within the SKA organisation and the UK’s contribution to the project. This includes resource in the pre-construction phase and providing the SKA Campus buildings for the construction phase. 

Membership of the UK-PB will comprise of:

  • Executive Chair of STFC
  • Executive Director of STFC Programmes Directorate
  • UK SKA Programme Lead
  • STFC Finance Director
  • BEIS Representatives
  • Chair of UK SKA Oversight Committee
  • Chair of UK SKA Science Committee
  • UK SKA Industrial Liaison Officer
  • Science Advisors

In relation to the above, the UK-PB is asked to:

  1. Oversee and coordinate the UK activities for the various strands that make up the UK’s involvement in the SKA.
  1. Create strong UK stakeholder engagement with the SKAO, SKA Board, BEIS, FCO, Cheshire East Council and the University of Manchester;
  1. Support effective communication throughout the project, from the UK Science Collaboration through to government, including the engaging parties within STFC and SKAO management;
  1. Enable the engagement of STFC staff and other stakeholders (including other Research Councils, Science Board and the wider research community, UK industry);
  1. Assess and comment on the opportunities and  resources available to engage with industry to prepare for the construction phase of SKA;
  1. Monitor compliance and progress of UK contributions to the construction phase
  1. Monitor the Treaty and HQ hosting negotiations, currently being led by BEIS with support from STFC and FCO legal;
  1. Review the project risk register, monitor risks and advise STFC as appropriate;
  1. Receive input and reports from the UK-SKA Committee chairs, Principal Investigators and work package managers on progress and finance, as required;

It is expected that the board will aim to meet before SKA Board/Council meetings or as needs require.  Members will be appointed by STFC and STFC will provide secretarial support. Chair to be chosen by STFC.

Last updated: 18 November 2019


Science and Technology Facilities Council
Switchboard: +44 (0)1793 442000