First of all it is vital that you read the Commission documents “Financial Guidelines”, “Audit Certificates” , “Cost Models” and "Model Contract" (goto links section). Note that in FP5, the Financial Guidelines were only a draft for the duration of the program and we expect the same for FP6.
All organisations, including universities and other public institutions must keep proper books of account and supporting documentation to justify their eligible costs claimed that they charge and relevant documentation must be kept for a period up to five years after the end of the action.
Explanations and justifications, especially concerning the allocation and apportionment of overheads, must be readily available for inspection by the Commission and its authorised representatives and by the European Court of Auditors.
Each potential contractor must satisfy the condition that it will have all the necessary resources as and when needed for carrying out the action. In preparing Financial Statements the following principles must be applied:
1. The participant must be presumed to be carrying on its business as a going concern
2. The methods of valuation must be applied consistently from one financial year to another
The Financial Statement should possess the following qualities that render the information they present useful to the readers; they must be:
1. Understandable. Excessive detail and overly complex reporting formats should be avoided. Information should be presented clearly and simply.
2. Relevant. Relevant information is timely and covers full nature and extent of the financial activities presented. Information is relevant if it helps those who use it to carry out their activities.
3. Reliable. Reliable information represents what it purports to represent. It is accurate within acceptable tolerances, free from bias, complete and verifiable.
4. Timely. Information cannot be out of date and must reflect the most recent information available.
5. Consistent. To be understandable, financial reporting should be presented on the same accounting basis to the extent possible. If the basis of accounting and presentation has changed from one accounting period to the next because, for example, a more appropriate accounting policy or standard has been adopted, this fact and the effects on the financial report resulting there from should be highlighted and explained clearly.
6. Comparable. As with consistency, the basis of accounting and presentation, and the effects of any changes from one period to the next, should be highlighted and clearly explained.
7. Materiality. Insignificant events may be disregarded, but there must be full disclosure of all important information. Therefore, an item is material if its disclosure is likely to lead to the user of accounting information to act differently.
The external independent auditor in performing its duty has to confirm that above-mentioned principles and factors concerning the quality of information are fulfilled and financial statement gives a true and fair view of the financial position corresponding with the underlying economic reality. Financial statements must be derived from the generally used accounting system of the contractor. The contractor must be able to verify the audit trail between the financial statement and its bookkeeping (general ledger) regarding all transactions recorded in the financial statement.