Tuesday, 11 January 2011

FP7 - Simplified, not simple

The Commission has proposed simplifications to FP7. The European Parliament has given its views on simplification. So has the Council of Ministers. Even the expert committee in its mid-term review of FP7 drew attention to administrative problems and the need for simplification.

All the talk of simplification brings to mind a presentation made two years ago by a senior Commission official responsible for audit certification in DG Research. The official was explaining a simplification introduced at the start of FP7 concerning overhead calculations. The traditional overhead calculation, known as real indirect costs and identical to the Full Cost overhead calculation in FP6, takes account of differences in overheads between different departments within the organisation. The FP7 simplification was to provide an option to ignore these variations and, in effect, take an average across the whole organisation: the EC calls this “simplified” real indirect costs. The first point of this official’s presentation read “Simplified method: the use of this method is optional, however ‘Simplified’ does not mean ‘Simple’ ”.

So be prepared!