28 March 2012
EU data/records retention requirements
The MATSIQEL research project which is the focus of our RDM project is funded by the European Commission (Marie Curie Programme). During our project queries were raised by us, our FoI Officer/Records Manager and the MATSIQEL team about the EC’s data/records retention requirements. In particular:
· Does the EC have a policy/schedule for the retention of records related to EU funded work by other organisations who have conducted the work? We hadn’t found a policy/schedule published on the EC website.
· If there are no requirements should we be following our own records retention policy?
Answers to these questions are important for not only this project but more generally for all EU funded projects.
A contact on mine at the EC put me in touch with someone from the Secretariat General -Document Management Policy (http://ec.europa.eu/transparency/archival_policy/index_en.htm) who was responsible for their own internal records retention schedule. After consulting with the DG Research they informed us that “there is no general [my emphasis] EU policy for the retention of documents produced by organisations funded by the EU, as the rules of the various EU Funding Programmes are very different.” This means that the preservation of documents by the beneficiary (i.e the HEI in our case) changes according to the EU programme which finances the project.
I was given some examples which I’ve provided below along with their URLs. What is clear is that, as well as the data/document requirements varying according to the EU programme that funds the project/action, the focus seems to mostly be on FINANCIAL records rather than research records and that, for ESF and FP7 funded projects, it is the ORIGINALs which must be kept unless authenticated electronic copies are made.
Examples of EC retention requirements:
1. FP7 FUNDED PROJECTS
Annex II to the Grant Agreement (FP7 Grant Agreement - Annex II General Conditions V6 24/1/11 ftp://ftp.cordis.europa.eu/pub/fp7/docs/fp7-ga-annex2-v6_en.pdf) states the following rule:
"The beneficiaries shall keep the originals or, in exceptional cases, duly authenticated copies – including electronic copies - of all documents relating to the grant agreement for up to five years from the end of the project." (Article II.22. Financial audits and controls, p24)
Note: the obligations in Annex II are the same for all FP7 funded actions/projects. This is the only source of obligation for preserving the documents produced by a FP7 project [that we can use] when working on E-Domec rules.
2. Projects financed by structural funds or agriculture policy
Their Basic Regulations establish the retention periods for documents in possession of beneficiaries. For example: Article 9 of Commission Regulation (EC) No 885/2006 of 21 June 2006 laying down detailed rules for the application of Council Regulation (EC) No 1290/2005 as regards the accreditation of paying agencies and other bodies and the clearance of the accounts of the EAGF and of the EAFRD (agriculture policy) (http://eur-lex.europa.eu/LexUriServ/LexUriServ.do?uri=CONSLEG:2006R0885:20081029:EN:PDF)
"Article 9 Conservation of accounting information
1. The supporting documents regarding the expenditure financed and the assigned revenues to be collected by the EAGF shall be kept at the disposal of the Commission for at least three years following the year in which the Commission clears the accounts of the financial year concerned under Article 30 of Regulation (EC) No 1290/2005.
2. The supporting documents regarding the expenditure financed and the assigned revenues to be collected by the EAFRD shall be kept at the disposal of the Commission for at least three years following the year in which the final payment by the paying agency has taken place.
3. In the case of irregularities or negligence, the supporting documents referred to in paragraphs 1 and 2 shall be kept at the disposal of the Commission for at least three years following the year in which the sums are entirely recovered from the beneficiary and credited to the EAGF or the EAFRD or in which the financial consequences of non-recovery are determined under Article 32(5) or Article 33(8) of Regulation (EC) No 1290/2005.
4. In the case of a conformity clearance procedure provided for in Article 31 of Regulation (EC) No 1290/2005, the supporting documents referred to in paragraphs 1 and 2 of this Article shall be kept at the disposal of the Commission for at least one year following the year in which that procedure has been concluded or, if a conformity decision is the subject of legal proceedings before the Court of Justice of the European Communities, for at least one year following the year in which those proceedings are concluded."
3. European Social Fund Projects
Article 90 of Council Regulation (EC) No 1083/2006 of 11 July 2006 laying down general provisions on the European Regional Development Fund, the European Social Fund and the Cohesion Fund and repealing Regulation (EC) No 1260/1999 (http://eur-lex.europa.eu/LexUriServ/LexUriServ.do?uri=OJ:L:2006:210:0025:0025:EN:PDF)
"Article 90 Availability of documents
1. Without prejudice to the rules governing State aid under Article 87 of the Treaty, the managing authority shall ensure that all the supporting documents regarding expenditure and audits on the operational programme concerned are kept available for the Commission and the Court of Auditors for:
(a) a period of three years following the closure of an operational programme as defined in Article 89(3);
(b) a period of three years following the year in which partial closure took place, in the case of documents regarding expenditure and audits on operations referred to in paragraph 2.
These periods shall be interrupted either in the case of legal proceedings or at the duly motivated request of the Commission.
2. The managing authority shall make available to the Commission on request a list of completed operations which have been subject to partial closure under Article 88.
3. The documents shall be kept either in the form of the originals or in versions certified to be in conformity with the originals on commonly accepted data carriers."