Brussels, 16 Jan 2003
The Commission has adopted an action plan aimed at improving and clarifying the financial management of shared cost research projects.
The plan follows observations by some Directors-General in 2001 and was requested to address 'the complexity of financial management of indirect actions through simplification and enhanced consistency between the different systems currently in place and through improved contract management.'
To improve organisational coordination, an inter-service group on the financial management of contracts is set up to ensure that contract interpretation is consistent and to facilitate the exchange of best practices. A network of correspondents reports directly to the inter-service group on specific issues.
For projects funded under the Fifth Framework Programme (FP5), the Commission will remind contractors of the possibility of financial audit and ask them to inform their partners of their responsibilities regarding the requirements of the contract. The Commission will also inform contractors of common problems identified during financial audits so that the same mistakes are not repeated.
The verification of cost claims is identified as another area for action. 'Desk audits', carried out when cost statements are submitted, will be increased and random sampling of cost claims will be made for each project. The number of full financial audits will be increased by some DGs.
New rules for participation and a new contract structure for the Sixth Framework Programme (FP6) should simplify the management of shared cost projects. The new contract does not impose cost categories and permits more flexibility for the consortium to manage its research project. A compilation of frequently asked questions focusing specifically on rules for participation and contractual issues will be posted on the FP6 website.
If overclaims are still found to exist, sanctions exist to protect the Community's financial interests. In addition, recovery orders, as provided for in the Treaty and the Rules for Participation, will be incorporated into the model contract.