Brussels, 11 Nov 2002
'The Commission is constantly following up on and improving the effectiveness of its control systems,' a Commission spokesperson told CORDIS News in response to a report from the EU's Court of Auditors which claims research project auditing errors are leading to overpayments by the Commission to project participants.
The Court of Auditors took a sample of 19 contracts for indirect actions with cost-claim payments authorised in 2001. The report notes that 'in all of the 19 contracts, examined costs had either been overstated by the beneficiary or the beneficiary was unable to justify the costs claimed.'
The Commission emphasises however that no cases of fraud have been detected, and claims that the errors are due to 'the variety of practices used by the involved organisations from all over Europe [...] which may lead to misunderstandings and misinterpretations.' The process has been simplified under the Sixth Framework Programme (FP6) and a better legal system will also be in place, said the spokesperson.
The Commission also underlines that although some errors remain undetected, many are found and corrected. 'Furthermore,' said the Commission spokesperson, 'the Commission has increased substantially its own auditing efforts, and for FP6 all cost claims [...] will have to be accompanied by audit certificates.'
The main cause of over-declarations is the absence of statements on hours worked, which is stipulated in the contract. When this is the case, the Commission reminds the beneficiaries of their obligations and deducts non-eligible amounts.
With regard to the question of late payments by the Commission following claims by project participants, the Commission notes that it has put in place initiatives to execute payments within 60 days, a period which will be reduced to 45 days under FP6.
To see the Court of Auditors' report, please visit: http://www.eca.eu.int/EN/RA/2001/ra01.ht m