Wednesday, 6 April 2016

FP7 Audits: 29th February confuses EC auditors

The practice of adding an occasional extra day to February was established in the year 45 BC by Julius Caesar, who simultaneously adjusted the days of other months to the ones we use today. Recent reports suggest that auditors checking FP7 projects have not yet caught up with Caesar’s innovations.

Many researchers, like much of the population, are paid on a monthly basis according to Caesar’s calendar. So their actual cost per day (and therefore per hour) varies with the number of working days in a month, and this has been built in to the management accounting systems of many organisations. EC auditors have recently begun to dispute this calculation. They call them “errors due to incorrect calculations for fractions of a year”. Instead they insist on using the average hourly rate for the last completed financial year. Not only does this fail to correspond to actual costs, it also ignores any pay increases in financial years which are incomplete when a cost report is due.

Of course, in H2020 “actual” personnel costs must be calculated from data for completed financial years only. But it looks like EC auditors are applying H2020 contract terms retrospectively to FP7 cases.

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