Frequently asked questions & answers

about project administration

With this collection of frequently asked questions we hope to offer you important information that you are likely to find useful at various stages throughout your project.
Please select a project phase or jump straight to one of the questions listed below.

1. Approval/conclusion of contract

1.1 What is external university funding?

External funding includes all cash benefits that the university receives from public or private funding bodies for research and teaching purposes. External funds must be managed in accordance with the stipulations made by the funding body as well as state regulations.

In general, all university members with research duties are permitted to complete externally-funded projects as part of their official responsibilities. If you are planning to apply for external funding, you must notify the Rectorate via the “Drittmittelverfahren” (authorisation of external funding). This process was established to ensure that researchers accept the contract as part of their official duties and that they do not receive a fee. The university administration does not provide support to researchers who accept private contracts that they receive a fee for. In these cases, the state regulations on secondary employment must be observed. Please note that official duties must not be mixed with secondary employment tasks.

1.2 What types of external funding are there?

Besides differentiating between private and public funding bodies, we also differentiate between:

- External funding to support research and teaching: These are cash benefits that do not entail agreements on or expectations of return services (specific results).

- Research partnerships: Usually open-ended basic research that both sides, industry and university, can actively shape.

- Research contracts: The donor typically expects that the contract partner performs a specific service in return for the funding provided, e.g. in the form of an expert opinion, result etc. As of 1 January 2014, research contracts are subject to turnover tax, i.e. all related income is subject to value added tax. In return, the university is entitled to pre-tax deductions for expenses for material resources (see VAT/turnover tax).

1.3 Who can assist me in acquiring an externally-funded project?

The university’s Research Support team is happy to help you identify potential funding bodies and will assist you with your funding applications and/or the arrangement of contracts.

1.4 What do I need to do after submitting my application and/or before concluding a research contract?

First, you must obtain authorisation of external funding (“Drittmittelverfahren”). Please complete the external funding form (“Drittmittelformblatt”) and send it and your application, including all required documents, to the Rectorate via your department and the Research Funding Administration unit (Ms Leib). With its signature, the Rectorate confirms the university’s acceptance of the external funding.

After all relevant signatures have been obtained, the documents will be kept by the Research Funding Administration unit until the external funding body has decided whether to approve or reject your application.

You can find the form to obtain authorisation of external funding (“Drittmittelverfahren”) here.

1.5 Who is authorised to sign funding or research contracts?

All contracts are signed by the Kanzler, who oversees the budget. Please submit your contracts well ahead of time via the Research Funding Administration unit.

1.6 What should I do when my funding is approved and how do I open a project account?

Please check first whether the sum you requested is identical to the sum that has been approved. If the sum awarded is not enough to complete the project you need to find out if you can use university funds to finance the remaining amount or if the project must be rejected.

You should send the funding body’s original letter of approval (or rejection) including all attachments to the Research Funding Administration unit and ask them to open a project account for you. Please keep a copy for your own records. Find your contact person under contacts/responsibilities.

2. Project setup

2.1 What happens after sending the funding approval including all attachments to the Research Funding Administration team?

The project manager responsible for your case will open a project account and mail the relevant information to you via the in-house post service. Besides a project ID and details about the account for incoming and outgoing project funds you will also receive important information about managing your project.

2.2 Why do I need a project ID and what does it look like?

Project Administration awards unique IDs that serve to identify your project at the University of Konstanz. Please always include your project ID when you contact Project Administration so that we know which project to access straight away.

The project ID begins with the letters “FP” for “Forschungsprojekt” (research project), followed by three numbers in ascending order, a slash and the year the project was started. Example: FP 407/11.

2.3 What is the account for and how is it organised?

All incoming and outgoing project funds are booked to the project account. You will receive your account details at the beginning of your project. Please make sure to include this information whenever you make payments.

Organisation:

  • Chapter (for university funds: 1414; other chapters for special state funds)
  • Title: for staff typically 429 + title group, for material resources 547 + title group, for investments 812 + title group (e.g. 90 for EU funds, 81 for BMBF funds, 84 for industry funds, 86 for events, 96 for state allowances, 71 for budget funds and so on).
  • Subtitle: two-digit number (e.g. 04 for AFF funds, 51 for CRC 767; often, no subtitle will be allocated --> empty)
  • Account level 1: starts with the department (e.g. 14 for Chemistry), followed by the number 9 for research and a five-digit project ID (see above).
  • Type of expense: four digits, e.g. 0213 for travel expenses, 0211 for consumables, 0212 for tools and small equipment etc. (only used for external funding)

2.4 What’s the drawing limit on my project account?

The agreed funding sum will be credited to your account as your approval/drawing limit. That way, you can draw whatever funds you need right from the start, even if the funding body hasn’t transferred the entire amount yet.

In case of annual funding, the portion of the funding that you are due to receive in the current calendar year will be made available at the beginning of that year. You must liaise with your funding body well ahead of time (usually in September) if you want to access funds that have not been approved yet or if you want to transfer funds from the previous year to the next one.

2.5 When can I start making payments from the project account?

Once you have received official confirmation of funding approval and a project account has been opened, you can use the funds in accordance with the regulations.

3. Project implementation

3.1 Who is responsible for the project account? Who is authorised to manage the project account?

Only project leaders can manage project funds. However, as a project leader, you are free to authorise other members of staff. As long as it has not been informed otherwise, central administration will assume that applications signed by members of staff working in university departments, central institutions or research projects have been discussed with the project leaders.

You are required to manage your funds economically and sparingly and to adhere to the regulations on the use of funds. The person responsible for managing the project funds is also obliged to make sure that the drawing limit is not exceeded. He or she is personally liable for overdrafts.

3.2 Who is authorised to sign documents as “sachlich richtig” (factually correct) and what does this serve to confirm?

By marking documents relating to payments (e.g. invoices) as “sachlich richtig”, you confirm that the information contained therein is factually correct.

The following members of staff may confirm that a document is “sachlich richtig”:

  • Civil servants in the A9 salary bracket and higher
  • Employees in the E9 salary bracket and higher
  • Civil servants, employees or labourers who have been authorised in writing (request to Christa Karrer, Division of Financial Affairs, phone extension -3609, Christa.Karrer@uni-konstanz.de)

This authorisation is only valid for your own field of work and requires that you have adequate knowledge of and can assess the matter whose accuracy you have been requested to confirm. Another authorised person should sign payments that relate to yourself or your relatives.

By confirming that a document is “sachlich richtig” (factually correct), the signatory accepts responsibility for the following in particular:

  • that the payment information enclosed in the document is correct
  • that the regulations were kept and the funds were used economically and sparingly
  • that the services specified in the underlying agreement were duly and completely provided
  • that advance payments were taken into account

(for further information, please see VV-LHO §70 items 11 to 13)

3.3. Who is authorised to sign documents as “rechnerisch richtig” (mathematically correct) and what does this serve to confirm?

The “rechnerisch richtig” (mathematically correct) endorsement serves to confirm that the information on documents relating to payments (e.g. invoices) is correct. If final sums have been amended, the confirmation must read “Rechnerisch richtig mit ... Euro” (mathematically correct with ... euros).

The following members of staff may confirm that documents are “rechnerisch richtig”:

  • Civil servants starting at middle-level

  • Employees in the E3 salary bracket and higher
  • Civil servants, employees or labourers who have been authorised in writing (request to Christa Karrer, Division of Financial Affairs, phone extension -3609, Christa.Karrer@uni-konstanz.de)

This authorisation is only valid for your own field of work and requires that you have adequate knowledge of and can assess the matter whose accuracy you have been requested to confirm. Another authorised person should sign payments that relate to yourself or your relatives.

By confirming that a document is “rechnerisch richtig”, the signatory accepts responsibility for the following in particular:

  • that the anticipated or outstanding payment and all information based on calculations is correct

(for further information, please see VV-LHO §70 items 11 to 13)

3.4 How can I view my balance and review my transactions?

Account holders and other authorised persons may access the account information system QIS-FSV to review the account balance and all transactions associated with their project accounts. We recommend that you review your transactions at regular intervals and inform the project manager without delay if you notice any irregularities, so that the necessary steps can be taken to rectify potential errors. You can find the registration form for QIS-FSV as well as important information about using the system here.

3.5 How is the funding credited to the project account?

The Project Administration team ensures that the funding is transferred in accordance with the funding body’s stipulations and credited to your project account.

If you expect other incoming funds, please give us advance notification of the amount, payment provider and reason for the payment. For us to be able to assign incoming funds to the correct account, please have your funding body include the project ID and name of the project leader when transferring funds to the University of Konstanz.

3.6 What do I need to keep in mind regarding the various types of expenses (e.g. staff, contracts for specific services, material resources etc.)?

3.7 The budget is to be amended. How do I request a rededication?

Some funding bodies allow their beneficiaries to spend more money on certain types of expenses than initially agreed without discussing this first, but only if the overdraft is covered by savings on other types of expenses. In such cases, you only need to let the Research Funding Administration team know.

Other more extensive changes to the financial plan must be reported to the Project Administration unit well in advance. You must explain the reasons for the amendment. We will then convey your request to the funding body and ask for written permission. As soon as we have obtained permission, we will amend the records in our book keeping system and notify you accordingly.

You are very welcome to contact your funding body directly to request written permission, which you should then forward to the Research Funding Administration unit. Typically, public funding bodies prefer Research Funding Administration to get involved straight away (e.g. where state allowances are concerned). As for contracts, this usually requires a change to the terms of the contract that the university as contract partner must agree to.

Other changes to funding conditions or contracts such as the extension of a project should be treated accordingly.

3.8 How can I spend my budget for material resources? Who is responsible for placing orders?

Orders to delivery firms and other external service providers can only be placed by central administration, not by individual university members.

The University of Konstanz’s “zentraler Einfkauf” (Purchasing) unit will take care of your orders. As a central service provider it is responsible for concluding all contracts on the deliveries of goods. Purchasing will take action once you submit the request form “Anforderung”, which you can find in the “Büromateriallager” (office supplies stockroom).

Certain groups of individuals are free to purchase items worth less than 800 euros before VAT themselves. However, please make sure that you adhere to the regulations for small orders. The corresponding request forms are available here.

The person responsible for managing the project funds or a person authorised by him or her can place orders with central university service providers (e.g. workshops, in-house printing services, depot) directly. Items that can be ordered via the “Büromateriallager” (office supplies stockroom, C 0409) are listed in the office supplies catalogue (Büromaterial-Verzeichnis).

The library is responsible for acquiring literature.

Employment contracts are concluded exclusively by Human Resources, see staff.

“Werkverträge” (contracts for work) are managed by the Division of Financial Affairs.

3.9 I have commissioned a university service provider to provide specific services for my project. How will my project account be charged?

The account named in the order will be charged automatically during the monthly settlement. Usually, only expenses for material resources (including the “Gemeinkostenzuschlag” (allowance for overhead costs), if applicable) will be allocated.

The following abbreviations are used for booking orders:

AVM - Photography lab/ Graphics FLG

AVM - Audio and video equipment AVT

AVM - In-house printing service HD

Office supplies BML

Copy cards KK

Chemicals stockroom CL

Glass stockroom GWL

Bottled gas stockroom GAS

FM GBT Electronics service ES

FM GBT Communications equipment KT

WW - Construction of apparatus AB

WW - Precision mechanics FM

WW - Wood and plastics HKT

WW - Construction of glass apparatus GAB

WW - Mechanical equipment services GSM

WW - Electronic equipment ELW

Animal Research Facility TFA

Phone TAS

3.10 There is a bill that I need to pay, what should I do?

In order to arrange for a payment to be made, the following documentation / attachments are required:

  • Original invoice
  • Statement / reason for payment
  • The confirmation “sachlich und rechnerisch richtig” (factually and mathematically correct) including the project leader’s signature or that of another authorised person.

Special provisions:

If the goods were ordered via “Beschaffung” (Procurement), you only need to confirm delivery and forward the invoice to “Beschaffung “(Procurement).

In the case of small orders placed under the “Kleinauftragsverfahren” (small orders procedure), please send a copy of the order and the invoice to the “Rechnungsstelle” (accounting office) of the Division of Financial Affairs. Please make sure to fill out the “Kleinauftragsschein” (form for small orders) correctly and completely (esp. cost centre, reason for payment and confirmation “sachliche und rechnerische Richtigkeit”). Incomplete forms will the returned to the sender. If you haven’t registered for the “Kleinauftragsverfahren” (small orders procedure) yet or if you need new order forms, please contact Procurement.

For invoices related to contracts for work (“Werkverträge”): please see contracts for work.

Travel expenses must be advanced by the traveller. The amount spent will be reimbursed afterwards when the travel expenses are settled. For more information please see research trips.

Guests’ travel expenses: please see guests.

3.11 How do I request an advance payment?

University members who would be required to advance payments on behalf of the university can request an advance payment (in writing via in-house post or, in emergencies, email). Advance payments are often needed to reimburse test persons or to pay for travel expenses. If you want to apply for an advance payment for travel expenses, please submit your request together with your request for permission to travel on business.

The request should include the following information: Amount (including units), account, reason for payment, collector and date of collection for cash payments, account holder and bank details for bank transfers.

The request should be submitted by the project leader or another authorised person. The requested sum is paid out close to the due date (no more than approximately three weeks in advance) at a maximum of 80 % of the anticipated cost.

The advance payment must be settled immediately after it has been spent. To settle, you need to submit the following documentation:

  • Original invoice with proof that the payment has been made (receipt, bank statement or credit card statement)
  • Copy of the request for an advance payment
  • Confirmation “sachliche und rechnerische Richtigkeit” (factually and mathematically correct) with the funding manager’s/project leader’s signature

Advance payments for travel expenses are settled when the travel expenses are settled. Please make a note of the advance payment in the appropriate field on the first page of the settlement form.

3.12 I have advanced payments for my project using my private bank account. How do I get my money back?

To receive reimbursements for advance payments related to your project, please inform us about the amount you have advanced and include your bank details (state the account holder, if this is not you). You should also include information about the account that we should use to reimburse your expenses as well as the purpose of the original payment. Please submit all original receipts and remember that these must be signed “sachlich und rechnerisch richtig” (factually and mathematically correct) by the project leader or another authorised person. Please also submit proof that the payment was made, e.g. by including receipts, bank statements and credit card statements.

3.13. When I last accessed the account information system QIS-FSV, I noticed that my expenses were charged to the wrong project account. How do I order a transfer?

Please inform your project administrator of the error and name the correct account.

We recommend that you print the relevant QIS-FSV page, highlight the booking and make a note of the account that we should charge the expenses to.

Please have the print out signed by the person responsible for managing the funds or another authorised person and send it to us.

Please note that we cannot transfer staff expenses retroactively.

It is also difficult for us to transfer funds from one account to another if the project involved is subject to taxation.

If this is the case, please inform us of the booking error immediately after it has been discovered.

3.14 Regulations for small amounts

In accordance with § 59 LHO, we do not accept or pay out small amounts of less than 5 euros because the cost of doing so exceeds the amount of the claim.

(For further information, please see VV-LHO § 59 no. 6)

3.15 How can I make payments?

Bank transfer: Please name the account holder and bank details.

Incoming cash payments: Incoming and outgoing cash payments are administered by the Universitätskasse (university cashier's office), which you will find in room V 703. Opening hours: 9:00 - 11:30; please bring your national ID card or your staff ID.

Please inform the Project Administration team in advance via email of planned cash payments using research funds (account, amount, recipient, reason for payment) so that we can prepare the payment order.

Further information is available from the Universitätskasse (university cashier’s office) (cheques, direct debit mandates, credit card payments).

3.16 What are the University of Konstanz’s bank details?

4. End of the project

4.1 Who is responsible for creating the financial report on all payments made using project funds?

Project Administration is responsible for drawing up the financial report. It will be available on the due date and sent to the funding body after it has been checked by the project leader.

4.2 Who is responsible for creating the report on the items that the funds were used to pay for?

This is the responsibility of the project leader, who should forward his or her report straight to the funding body. Please also send a copy to Project Administration.

4.3 What happens to funds not used up by the end of the project?

After the project accounts have been settled, Project Administration will see to it that any remaining funds are transferred back to the funding body. If there is no obligation to settle, the remaining funds will be left in the project account. The project leader is free to rededicate them for further research work.

4.4 My project has come to an end, but my project account is in deficit. What should I do?

The project leader is responsible for account deficits. As a rule, deficits can only be covered using free industry funds or AFF funds / “Drittmittelbelohnung” (External Funding Reward Model). Please suggest a solution!

4.5 How will the project account be closed?

Once the account has been balanced, Project Administration will see to it that the account is closed. This means that the account will be suspended and can no longer be credited or charged. At the turn of the following year, it will also be removed from the account information system QIS-FSV.

5. Other frequently asked questions

5.1 What external funding statistics are there?

We create individual statistics on demand. They are usually based on income and expenses, in some exceptional cases they also include approved funds. The statistics are used for internal or external purposes, e.g. to answer requests for information from the state, federal republic or the EU.

5.2 How do I arrange for a charitable donations certificate?

Please check with your donor whether a charitable donations certificate is required and ask for the correct address and amount. You will need this information to request a charitable donations certificate from Project Administration (please send your request via email). As soon as the university has received the donation, we will issue the charitable donations certificate and send it to the donor.

5.3 How do funding bodies audit projects? Which services does Project Administration provide in this context?

Most funding bodies will reserve the right to check whether their funds have been used correctly. Typically, this will happen within a given period of time after the project has been concluded (e.g. within five years). This right will often be laid down in the terms of the contract or in the funding approval.

If a funding body wants to make use of this right, they will inform Project Administration and let us know when and where the review will take place and which documents will be subject to evaluation. Due to our retention obligation, all original receipts must remain at the university. Therefore, the examiners will typically come to the university to review the documents.

Project Administration will collect all relevant documents and have them ready on the day of the audit. We will also provide office space to the auditors and inform the project leader, requesting that he or she be available to answer potential questions on the day of the audit. Project Administration will accompany the auditors for the duration of the audit and contact the project leader, if necessary. The project leaders are of course free to introduce themselves to the auditors even if this has not been specifically requested. Experience shows that most auditors appreciate this kind of personal contact.

The auditors will mostly check transaction records. The focus is on the following questions:

- Was the payment necessary? (this should be evident from the reason for the payment)

- Were the funds used in an economical and sparing manner? (cheapest option from a range of offers or justification for selecting a more expensive provider)

- Can the expense be clearly assigned to the project? (e.g. via the account noted on the order or hiring request)

- Were the funding body’s stipulations adhered to? (e.g. exclusion of certain expenses, payments were made within the duration of the project, procurement regulations were observed etc.)

Often, further documentation is requested:

- Requests to hire staff (e.g. does the job profile fit the project)

- for EU projects: Documentation of working hours, calculation of hourly wages, actual time spent on individual work packages as compared to the application

- Adherence to the University of Konstanz’s general regulations for externally-funded projects (e.g. representation guideline, guest speakers’ fees, travel expense rates)

- Processes and control mechanisms at the University of Konstanz (e.g. four-eyes principle for procurement and payment routines, tendering procedures, internal revision)

Project audits typically conclude with a report compiled by the funding body that the Project Administration team values as important feedback on potential weaknesses.