Even if no signed paper versions of Forms C have to be sent to the Commission, do we have to keep signed versions in our files within our organisation?
From the Commission side, there is no obligation to even create paper versions of Forms C. The electronic-only transmission is the valid act and the e-Receipt is the proof. The need for paper versions might arise from internal rules and processes in your organisation.
Note: Keep in mind that there are two exceptions:
1.) You have to store the original CFS as paper version signed by the certifying auditor in your own files.
2.) If you are a beneficiary with a linked third party covered by Special Clause 10 than you have to keep a Form C of this linked third party printed and hand-signed by an authorised representative of the third party in your records.
Our organisation has no LEAR. How can we register the persons authorised to sign Forms C (FSIGNs)?
Your organisation must first nominate a LEAR. Only the LEAR can register the FSIGNs. The details for nominating LEARs can be found on the Quick Information letter.
My organisation is small and we participate only in one FP7 project. The appointment of so many persons in different roles (LEAR, PaCo, FSIGN) seems quite an overburden.
You can nominate one and the same person in different roles (e.g. the same person can be LEAR of your organisation, PaCo and FSIGN for your project). Once a LEAR is nominated, the nomination into all other roles is very simple and quick (and can be changed at any moment online in the Participant Portal).
I have a third party reporting costs in my project (special clause 10). How does it work in this case?
A separate Form C for the third party has to be completed in the financial reporting module and transmitted by the PaCo of the beneficiary to the coordinator (without electronic signature). After the coordinator submitted the whole package to the Commission, the Form C of the third party must be printed and hand-signed by an authorised representative of the third party. This document must be kept in the files of the beneficiary (no sending to the Commission).
I am coordinating a multi-beneficiary collaborative project signed before 1.1.2013. Will I have to monitor two different parallel streams of Forms C (paper signed and only electronic) depending on the beneficiaries?
No. The transition to electronic-only transmission of Forms C can only be made for the consortium as a whole. Either your grant maintains the provisions under which it was signed (and then all beneficiaries will keep the traditional process with electronic submission and paper signature), or your grant is amended in order to move under the provisions of the new model grant agreement allowing for the paperless transmission of Forms C. In this case, all beneficiaries will report under the new regime. For practical help on how to amend your grant agreement you can follow the information enclosed.
I am the LEAR of a complex research organisation and would need to identify different financial signatories (FSIGNs) for different departments or institutes. How will the Participant Contact (PaCo) of a given grant know which is the correct FSIGN for his/her project?
When designating the FSIGNs for your organisation, the Identity and Access Management of the Participant Portal will allow you to encode comments that will help the PaCo to identify and select the right FSIGN for the project.
Will this new process affect negatively the time I have to wait to be paid as beneficiary or coordinator?
On the contrary, apart from the advantages in terms of simplified administrative processes, the only-electronic transmission of Forms C will help to compile a full report faster and therefore will allow the Commission to start its analysis earlier, hereby accelerating the whole payment procedure.
In my organisation, Forms C are always signed by two persons. How should we handle this in the new approach?
Only one act of electronic signature per Form C will be possible in the system. If prior to this authoritative signature your organisation requires an approval involving more than one person, the necessary processes must be organised internally in your institution.
What happens if the financial signatory (FSIGN) chosen for the project is absent (leave, sickness etc.)?
The Participant Contact (PaCo) can assign more than one FSIGN to the project, so that business continuity is covered in case of absences. All FSIGNs assigned to the project will receive the notifications "Form C ready for signature". However, even if several FSIGNs are assigned to the project there is only one act of electronic signature, by the first FSIGN signing the respective Form C.
Can the consortium go back to paper submission after having signed the amendment to go for electronic-only?
No. Once the amendment on the paperless process has been accepted and signed by the parties, the consortium has to apply the electronic-only transmission.
11. Can the coordinator see the drafted versions?
Yes, the coordinator is able to see drafts and can comment before the form is transmitted and signed officially by the FSIGN of a beneficiary.
Can the coordinator of a consortium reject an electronically signed Form C of a participant?
Yes, coordinators can reject Forms C for corrections. In this case, the cycle starts again at the beneficiary (drafting - ready to sign – signing and transmitting) Beneficiaries can avoid rejections after electronic signature by checking the Form C in draft status with their coordinators (coordinators can view draft Forms C of other participants).
How can the LEAR indicate which FSIGN should be assigned to a given project?
In the Participant Portal the LEAR will be able to nominate FSIGNs for the organisation and add comments (optional) about the scope of responsibilities or duration (ie. "Mr. Smith can sign for projects of Department X from 1st October 2011").
The LEAR (or one of his/her account administrators) can revoke the nomination of an FSIGN at any time, and as a consequence, the person will not be able to sign Forms C any longer.
Who can transmit the signed forms to the Commission or Services - the coordinator contact or the FSIGN of the coordinator?
Once the forms are signed by the respective FSIGNs including the coordinator's FSIGN, the coordinator contact will be able to transmit the whole package to the Commission or its services.
Once an FSIGN signs and transmits the form, it cannot be electronically signed by another person of the same entity.
Yes, the printing functionality remains as it is now. In addition, users will be able to download the forms with the e-receipt.
The nominated persons must have the authority within the organisation to sign the financial statements.
No. The revised LEAR mandate gives the responsibility for identifying FSIGNs to the LEAR. The LEAR is nominated by the legal representative of the organisation, so that the chain of responsibility and trust is established.
What is the good moment to ask an amendment concerning electronic signature for already on-going grant agreements?
If a consortium of on-going grants decides to change to the use of the new electronic-only transmission, the coordinator has to initiate a simple amendment. However, it is advisable to start the amendment procedure well before or after the reporting period, as it is not allowed in the system to manage an amendment procedure at the same time with a reporting procedure. To avoid reporting (and payment) delays it would be better to do the amendment after the closed reporting.