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NERSC Code of Conduct FAQs

About the Code of Conduct

What is the NERSC Code of Conduct?

The NERSC Code of Conduct is an extension to the Appropriate Use Policy that outlines the interpersonal responsibilities of users of NERSC. It is based on the Berkeley Lab Stewardship Values and UC Standards of Ethical Conduct. It reminds everyone that these values extend to all users and guests of NERSC trainings, events, Slack channels, and other NERSC environments and resources in which users interact with each other and represent the NERSC community.

Codes of conduct have become prevalent in many professional environments, including workplaces, professional associations, and conferences. We are not aware of any substantial differences between the NERSC Code of Conduct and those of comparable communities.

Why is NERSC implementing a Code of Conduct for users?

The NERSC Code of Conduct is designed to establish community norms for how users professionally interact as we expand our community engagement programs. NERSC’s outreach team is planning community engagements that may include cross-disciplinary and international collaborations, career development opportunities, and unique networking events, some of which may be entirely user-designed and operated.

The Code of Conduct is being introduced to ensure everyone works together to create a productive, inclusive, and respectful environment across the wide range of potential interactions by informing everyone in our community of the expectations and available resources.

Where does the NERSC Code of Conduct apply?

This depends on the specific details; however, as a guideline, the Code of Conduct applies anywhere you can be reasonably construed to be on NERSC property, including virtual property. This includes, but is not limited to, NERSC computational resources, NERSC Slack channels, the NERSC GitLab, NERSC trainings, monthly NUG webinars, user-led NERSC-based organizational meetings, and any other NERSC-sponsored events.

If ever in doubt, you can always report misconduct through our listed resources. Those resources will redirect reports to the relevant groups or organizations if not applicable to this Code of Conduct.

Who is covered by the Code of Conduct?

The NERSC Code of Conduct covers everyone, regardless of status, role, or physical location. All NERSC users, staff, and vendor representatives have all signed and are required to abide by the Code of Conduct. In addition, anyone participating in NERSC-sponsored events, including external training experts and guest speakers, is also expected to abide by the Code of Conduct.

What violates the Code of Conduct?

Behaviors that do not align with NERSC’s core values within the context of the NERSC community, or up to and including illegal activities, violate the NERSC Code of Conduct. Inappropriate behavior includes, but is not limited to, bullying, harassment, stalking, photography or recording of an individual without consent, inappropriate physical contact, sexual misconduct, sustained disruption of talks or other events, and other problematic conduct

Impact of the Code of Conduct

How will the Code of Conduct affect NERSC users?

The Code of Conduct establishes the boundaries of appropriate conduct and formalizes the previously unwritten procedures and resources for when these boundaries are violated. The Code of Conduct also raises awareness about the available resources so users can not only report incidents but make others aware of their options when they observe inappropriate behavior.

For most users, there will be no change to how they interact with NERSC or each other. But if a suspected violation occurs, the Code of Conduct provides a concrete, unbiased procedure to handle the investigation and resolution of the event.

What happens if I do not agree to sign the Code of Conduct consent form?

The Code of Conduct will be required for all NERSC staff and users as an extension of our Appropriate Use Policy. Those who do not agree to the Code of Conduct will not be eligible to use NERSC resources.

However, it’s important to remember that the Code of Conduct closely follows established UC guidelines and is not designed to place additional restrictions on reasonable behavior. Instead, it is designed to reinforce positive behavior in the NERSC community, help everyone understand available resources, and provide an active, defined path for responding to possible incidents.

What should I do if I believe someone is violating the Code of Conduct?

First, speak up if you feel comfortable doing so. Reminding each other to behave appropriately and respectfully is the best way to create the positive environment we all deserve. However, if speaking up is ineffectual, the offense is egregious, it continues, or you would like additional support assessing the situation, you are encouraged to report it through one of the provided resources. NERSC staff can also help you find the reporting options. 

Remember, if your health or safety is at risk, you feel you are in danger, or you need to report a crime, call your local emergency services number, e.g., 9-1-1 in the United States and Canada.

Responses to Reports

How can I expect NERSC to respond to a report of misconduct?

Friction is inevitable in a large community, both because of ongoing professional competition and the inherent nature of interpersonal interactions. Also, NERSC maintains a global audience with a wide range of cultural and linguistic diversity that will inevitably lead to minor conflicts, misunderstandings, misrepresentations, or misinterpretations.

As such, NERSC’s preferred strategy is to promote the growth of interpersonal skills and relationships through non-punitive, minor adjustments whenever appropriate. Punitive measures will be applied only for egregious misconduct or sustained violations. NERSC will not take action on misunderstandings, misinterpretations, or other perceived offenses that do not impact the community or its members negatively.

What are the possible responses to a violation?

If California or United States law proscribes a specific response to a misconduct report, we will follow those legal requirements. The course of action, reporting, and severity of response will depend on the laws in question.

The NERSC committee’s responses to violations are limited to interventions to resolve interpersonal conflicts or limit access to NERSC resources and events. Therefore, examples of specific responses include, but are not limited to, requesting an apology or defusing a situation; requesting the parties attend mediation; temporary or permanent restriction from participation in NERSC training and other events; temporary or permanent removal from NERSC’s Slack channels; and temporary or permanent loss of access to NERSC resources.

Reporting Violations

How do I report a violation?

You may make a report in any of the following ways:

  1. UC Incident Reporting Form for Harassment and Discrimination

  2. Email Berkeley Lab’s FAIR Office,

  3. Contact the Berkeley Lab Computing Sciences HR office, led by NERSC’s Senior HR Division Partner Bill Cannan, via email at or telephone at +1 (510) 486-6313.
  4. University of California Whistleblower Hotline

Will my identity remain anonymous?

You may choose reporting options that allow you to maintain anonymity; however, these options usually do not allow for follow-up or feedback:

  1. UC Incident Reporting Form for Harassment and Discrimination

  2. University of California Whistleblower Hotline

Whether or not you report anonymously, you won’t be asked to confront anyone, and we will maintain your anonymity to the extent permissible by law.

What happens when I report a violation?

After a report is made, an initial assessment of the allegation is conducted by the appropriate Lab-designated official. If the reported conduct is corroborated and it is not severe, then resources and support may be supplied to NERSC along with a menu of possible resolution options to appropriately, expediently, and directly address the issue.  

For more severe issues, filing a formal complaint may result in an investigation. The investigation may include recorded interviews, evidence gathering, and other actions necessary to determine whether it is more likely than not that the conduct occurred as alleged and whether that conduct constitutes a violation of any Lab Policy. Upon completion of the investigation, an internal report is provided to the NERSC board for review. The board decides the most appropriate action in response to the findings. Letters are sent to the parties notifying them of the findings and the outcome, along with appropriate final steps of resolution.

The full Employee Complaint Resolution process is included in the Berkeley Lab Requirements and Policies Manual. Also, see the FAIR FAQ for more information and to submit any further questions you may have.