Monday, 30 November 2015

The EU fails its audit – again

This month, the Court of Auditors published the results of its audit of the EU for 2014. The audit found errors in payments made of 4.4%, compared with 4.5% in the previous two years. The target for expenditure errors is 2%, so the pressure of auditing will continue.

While the report does not include separate figures for the research programmes (FP7 and H2020) they constitute 61% of the expenditure in the budget category “Competitiveness and growth for jobs”, where errors increased from 4% in 2013 to 5.6% in 2014. The large error rate here is attributed to the use of eligible costs as the basis for grants. The Court of Auditors thinks this can be overcome by switching to “entitlement” funding, such as that used for PhD students under the Marie Sklodowska-Curie programme (MSCA), where each month they work triggers the payment of a set amount of money, without reference to the actual costs incurred.

Interestingly, MSCA grants are considered generous by many universities. So what happened to the principle of sound financial management, in particular regarding economy and efficiency?


Wednesday, 11 November 2015

Communication versus dissemination

One part of the proposal template which still confuses is its references to communication and dissemination. The template requires a draft plan for the dissemination and exploitation of the project's results and – separately – a description of the proposed communication measures for promoting the project and its findings.

Some believe that dissemination is one way, from the research project to anyone who cares to listen, whereas communication is two-way, involving interaction between the research project and its potential audiences. It was reported at a recent conference addressed by H2020 proposal evaluators that several units of the EC had also suggested this interpretation.

On the other hand, the EC’s own H2020 publication “Communicating EU research and innovation: guidance for project participants” includes both two-way communication (eg face-to-face conversation, group discussions, demonstrations) and one-way communication (eg newspapers, magazines, newsletters and brochures).

Maybe EC staff should read their own advice!

Singleimage - H2020 Training Workshops and Advice