Some 50 scientific centres established for CZK 36,000 million; further costs of their five years’ operation would amount to CZK 24,500 million
PRESS RELEASE on Audit No. 15/06 – January 18, 2016
The Supreme Audit Office (SAO) scrutinized selected projects funded from EU funds under Integrated Operational Programme, Operational Programme Research and Development for Innovation, and Operational Programme Education for Competitiveness. Auditors aimed at the sustainability of projects and further funding during the sustainability period. Sustainability is among requirements for allocating the funds from operational programmes. The requirement states that the beneficiary must respect the project’s results for a certain period – usually 5 years – after the project has been implemented. The aim is to ensure that the achievements of supported projects are beneficial after the projects’ closures. These requirements should ensure economic, efficient, and effective utilisation of the EU funds.
Auditors selected and scrutinized 56 projects, which were endowed with CZK 9,300 million. Out of this sum, CZK 7,900 million were provided from EU funds and CZK 1,400 million from the national budget.
According to the rules, in case the sustainability period is not observed with some project(s) supported with EU funds, there is an obligation to repay all or part of the sums received and actual costs incurred are to be covered from the national budget. Such a risk was detected with 14 out of the 56 audited projects – due to breaches of the sustainability requirement and other errors. For example, the Ministry of Education implemented a project worth more than CZK 133 million, which aimed at the setting up of centres for inclusive education. The Project’s objective was to set up an inclusive education framework for primary schools. However, all nine regional centres, which were established within the frame of the Project, ceased to exist without any replacement after the Project’s closure.
There are major difficulties to ensure funds for the five year’s sustainability period, in particular with several scientific centres supported from Operational Programme Research and Development for Innovation. These projects are very costly – for instance, CZK 36,000 million were used to build 48 scientific centres. According to the estimates, national budget funds in the amount of CZK 24,400 million will be needed to ensure their operation at least during the sustainability period. With five out of the eleven audited scientific centres, there is a certain risk the sustainability period will not be fully observed as the scientific centres struggle to ensure financial resources in the originally planned amounts, namely from contract research and grants. The SAO concluded that this proved that the scientific centres could not find financial resources in their application fields.
The SAO pointed out that more attention should be paid to practical utilization of results achieved with EU (co-)funding, even after the projects’ closure. If there are no practical uses for the results in the future, there is no assurance that the spending is either effective or efficient. Subsidies should not only fund the project itself but they should also help to enhance the situation in the long run.
Supreme Audit Office