ACCU: A committee that addresses users' needs

This year, the Advisory Committee of CERN Users (ACCU) celebrates its 25th anniversary. Created in its modern form in December 1988 - at a time when the number of users was about 1500 - the committee still defends the interests of today’s users, now numbering around 11,000.

Actually, the first ACCU was established in 1977. Demanded by the rising number of Users, the need for such a committee arose during the 127th Meeting of Committee of Council (as stated in this official document): “In view of the large number and diversity of CERN Users, it has become apparent for some time that it would be useful to have an organised channel of consultation between the CERN direction and a representative group of CERN Users.”

Michael Hauschild, ACCU Secretary since 2010, says: “At that time, there were fewer ACCU members, and not all the countries were represented. With the birth of the modern form of the committee, in 1988, the decision to have representatives from all CERN countries was made. So, today, 23 countries plus CERN and the non-member states are represented in the ACCU, which totals 33 delegates.”

Four times a year, the ACCU meets to discuss topics the delegates have put on the agenda, topics based on their own experience or those suggested by users. “CERN Users have different needs to staff,” says Hauschild. “This year, for example, the health insurance question is one of our ‘burning topics’. Indeed, Users and their family are not automatically covered by the CERN health insurance scheme CHIS. If they are insufficiently insured while at CERN, they have to find a solution by themselves, which can be complicated and expensive.” To solve this problem, CERN did a market survey to find competitive insurance for CERN Users.

At each ACCU meeting, several regular reports are produced: news from the CERN Management, usually given by the Director-General; a report on services from the GS Department covering all the different services that CERN provides; Users' Office News, in which information is given on possible changes of registration procedures for users, visa matters, host state relations and similar issues; and finally, reports from ACCU representatives in other committees.