Tallinn University of Technology received a letter from the European Commission (EC) stating that the portion of the salaries paid for the second period of the OpenGovIntelligence (OGI) project which had not been duly documented must be returned.
The ruling concerns the salaries of six individuals, totalling 73,406 euros, plus a portion of the management expenses – the EC found that the management of the project was not up to standard – as well as general salary-related project expenses. The total amount requested to be returned is EUR 91,758.
The total project funding granted to the 12 partner organisations was 2,788,012 euros, including 267,500 euros for Tallinn University of Technology.
The reason for the recalling of these funds is a difference in understanding between the European Commission and TalTech of the documentation of the labour costs in the second half of the OGI project. The final versions of the timesheets, signed in due time, were not submitted during the project audit, and the university has interpreted Article 18.1 of the grant agreement differently from the European Commission. The case was analysed by the European Anti-Fraud Office (OLAF) and the ruling was made by the European Research Executive Agency established by the European Commission. Despite the above-mentioned shortcomings, the European Commission found that the OGI project fulfilled its purpose. The EC accepted the results of the project and deemed it concluded.
Tallinn University of Technology has decided not to contest the grounds of the ruling, but will be asking the European Commission to clarify the calculation of the recalled funding. Following the issues encountered in the OGI project, the university has reviewed the fulfilment of its other Horizon 2020 projects, has revised the system for support structure grants, has streamlined procedures, and has prepared support materials. In addition, the university has established a procedure for reporting and verifying breaches, and has set up the appropriate phone lines and hotlines.
By the ruling of the European Commission, the analysis and investigation of the management of the OGI project can be considered concluded. The matter has been thoroughly investigated by TalTech’s own committee of inquiry as well as the Prosecutor’s Office. The investigation conducted by the Northern District Prosecutor’s Office found no evidence of intentional misconduct. Meanwhile, TalTech’s own committee of inquiry did find the university to have breached the rules, but did not find evidence of fraud.