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HomepageProject closure - FAQ

Project closure - FAQ

Lead partners working on the last progress report (Comprised of the Activity Report and the Financial Report. It documents the progress of the operation and serves as payment request. Lead partners of operations ...) and the project final report may face some more complex questions than during the usual reporting. The most common questions are gathered here to help the smooth preparation of these final, important project documents. Any questions not answered here can  be raised with your Project or Finance Officer contact within the Joint Technical Secretariat/Information Points.

List of the most frequent questions asked about the project closure:

Answers

1. Our final conference takes place one month before the project end date. Is that a problem?

The project end date is the cut-off date for the eligibility of expenditure. Any costs that are paid after this date cannot be reported. If a final conference is scheduled one month before the project end date, there is a big risk that the related invoices are not received in time and the last payments are not made before the project end date. The costs would then be ineligible and would have to be borne by the partners with the help of their own resources. Therefore we recommend that you give yourself (and your partners) enough time to close the project and do not schedule the finalisation of actual activities and outputs too close to the project end date. The administrative closure (last payments, preparation of the last progress report and final report, first level control) often requires more time than expected. It is recommend to reserve a period of 3 months for this.

2. The preparation of the last progress report and final report, will it require a lot of time at Lead Partner level?

This depends very much on the responsiveness of the partners. All partners will need to work at least with the same commitment on the finalisation of the project as they worked on the implementation of the project then. However, projects often have to face a situation where there are fewer resources available in terms of time and staff, both on partner and Lead Partner (LP) (The lead partner has full financial responsibility for the entire operation including all partners and is responsible for the proper reporting of progress to the ...) level. This can easily result (Direct and indirect medium/long term effect of the project activities (e.g. number of regional policy changes, number of integrated energy plans ready for implementation, ...) in severe delays, but can be avoided by allocating enough time and staff resources to the closure of the project, also after the official end date. The failure to do so will almost certainly delay the final payment to the project. We also advise establishing a timetable to clearly define by when partners are expected to submit their report to their first level controllers (FLC) and by when their control confirmations must be received by you. Monitor very closely that all partners adhere to this timetable.


3. The contact person of one of our partners will leave their organisation at the end of the project. What should we do?

One of the most frequent problems at this stage is the information flow. You will need to have contact persons at partner level available beyond the project end date. The work might not be done once partners have submitted their individual reports to you. Take into consideration that several months may pass between the submission of the partners’ documentation to you, the submission of the final report to the JTS and the first clarifications. It is therefore important that all partners indicate a person taking over the responsibility for the project. This is in the interest of all partners: the failure to provide requested information might lead to the exclusion of expenditure from the report and will delay the payment procedure.


4. One of our partners wants to claim more than the allowed 10%/EUR 20,000 overspending and we have a big underspending in the project. Can we still do something about this?

Remember that you only have one possibility to undertake a major budget change i.e. to shift up to 20% of the total project budget. Whereas we recommend that such a budget change is not done too early during the project lifetime, a request for change procedure has to be started and finalised while the project is still running. You cannot apply for a budget change after the project end date. Budget changes can be lengthy: allow enough time for the procedure. Make sure that all partners communicate their expenditures to you in time so that you are aware of any potential need for a budget change and can launch the process before the project end date. Never wait for the progress report clarifications to have these issues solved.


5. We have to submit the report in one month but we still have not received many partner reports and documents. Many have asked for more time – can we ask for an extension?

The JTS has usually been able to grant extension of deadlines for the submission of the progress report. If you notice that you will not be able to meet the deadline, we invite you to get in touch with the JTS to seek advice. However, keep in mind that postponing the submission can be a particularly tricky issue with the final report. Allowing more time will often not solve the issue. Set clear deadlines from the beginning. Keep in regular contact with the partner, try to identify the problem of the delay and then propose a solution. If you have not heard back from a partner, send them an official communication, which should include final deadlines as well as consequences in cases where deadlines are not respected (e.g. risk of exclusion of expenditure). It will not be possible to postpone the submission endlessly. Timely submission will also help to avoid a potential risk of decommitment to the Programme in 2013, which could mean a decommitment for the project. The best way not to risk losing any funds is to ensure early submission and rapid reactions during the monitoring process, so that the report can be approved and paid well before the end of the year.

6. While compiling the progress report I realise that the information provided on activities/finances by my partners are not entirely clear to me. Can I still include them in the progress report?

The last progress report is not different to previous reports: all questions have to be clarified before submission. It is your task as the LP to have a certain understanding of the activities carried out by all partners as well as their expenditure reported. You have to be in a position to judge if the activities/expenditure are in line with the project’s activities and the application form. The last progress report tends to be more extensive and you might have to double your efforts to make the report self-explanatory. Don’t forget that after the submission of the progress report it may be more difficult to obtain answers from partners within a short time. The failure to do so might lead to the exclusion of activities/expenditure. Do not jeopardise the timely approval of the report by accumulating delays and seek a good understanding of all partners’ reported activities and costs before submission.


7. One of my partners did not have an on-the-spot check during the project implementation. What can we do?

On-the spot checks are an obligation: a project cannot be closed if there is no reassurance that this requirement has been respected. Remind your partners about this so that it does not turn into a problem at project closure. In some countries, checks may also be done on a sample basis. Get in contact with your finance officer at the JTS to discuss the situation if you are not sure about this. Check with partners that did not indicate any on-the-spot checks well in advance so that such a check can still be arranged before submission, should this be necessary. Do not wait for the clarifications to address this issue.

8. The project is over and the website is still costing us. Can we close it down?

No. The subsidy contract (contract between the Managing Authority and the operation’s Lead Partner. It determines the rights and responsibilities of the Lead Partner and the Managing Authority, ...) obliges you to keep the website accessible for a further 5 years. Remember that you will not be able to claim costs for activities that happen after the project end date. In other words, also prepayments for related hosting costs are not eligible and you will thus need to find alternative solutions. However, hosting does not need to cost much. Also, the website will continue to be a valuable tool for the dissemination of your results: do not forget to include the latest information on the website, including, for example, the final publication.

 9. Archiving of documents, what does it mean and is this important?

In fact this is a very important activity! The LP has to make sure that project relevant documents are stored by all partners for at least 3 years after the European Commission made the last payment to the programme. If, for example, this final payment is made in 2019, the documents have to be stored until 2022 (national rules might require even longer periods). Bear in mind that second level audits or a Commission audit can take place after the closure of the project and that the relevant documents need to be available. The LP principle will still be applied even after the project has ended.
We recommend checking whether your partnership agreement (In order to secure the quality of the implementation of the project, as well as the satisfactory achievement of its goals, the Lead Partner and the partners have ...) covers this issue (in the template provided by the programme this point is under Article 3) and then to remind partners about it. Over time, changes in partner organisations can occur (mergers, legal status changes, etc.). For those cases, it is important that partners officially inform the LP about this change as long as the archiving period is still running.

10. The first section of the final report is supposed to be filled in with information that is already reported in the different progress reports. Is this repetition necessary?

Yes. The final report is a document summarising the results and achievements of your project as a whole. This is different from the six-monthly information provided in the progress reports, where only the latest evolutions appear. The final report serves as a final document showing the overall picture of your project.
It is important to remember that the information provided in the final report must be coherent with what has been reported in the progress reports throughout the project’s lifetime. This is particularly important for the description of the ‘Good practices transferred’ and the ‘Local/regional policies improved’ in section 1.1 of the final report. The information provided on these two elements in the final report must coincide with what was reported in all previous progress reports. (If in PR3 you have reported 1 good practice transferred, and in PR6 another 3 good practices, than you have a total of 4 good practices transferred within the project lifetime. All the 4 good practices transferred should therefore be included and described in the Final Report.)