The maximum annual deviation from the annual instalment specified in the funding decision is 15 per cent. The types of expenditure are normative and they may be deviated from only if it supports the implementation of the presented research plan. In the case of major deviations, researchers are advised to contact the presenting official for the decision in question.
The 15 per cent rule is applied to funding decisions as follows:
- Decisions made before 20 Apr 2010: contractual funding of Centres of Excellence, research programme funding, general research grants
- Decisions made after 20 Apr 2010: all funding schemes except research grants for Academy Professors and Academy Research Fellows, and funding for development research
- Decisions made after 1 Oct 2011: all funding schemes except funding for development research.
Background to the 15 per cent rule
The Finnish Parliament can, in connection with its budget proposal discussion, grant an authority (limited in size and intended use) to make agreements and commitments. Funds for the costs arising from these are included in subsequent budgets, either wholly or partially. The Constitution of Finland and the Budget Act include provisions on the budget authority procedure. Commitments that are made by virtue of authority decisions are binding for the State. In order to fulfil these, the Budget must include appropriations for them irrespective of the economic situation.
The Academy can, by means of such authority, bind itself to more extensive projects and multi-year funding.
The Academy must, therefore, arrange the follow-up of its authority-based funding so that the amount, use and costs of this authority can be explained. Within research projects, the funds are not always used in accordance with the original funding plan and the set annual instalments. The use of funding is often tail-heavy, i.e. the funds are used towards the end of the funding period.
In terms of the planning of the Academy’s budget and economy, a key issue is that the annual instalments within the framework of the authority can be managed as well as possible in accordance with the presented plans. Funds that are transferred to subsequent years may misleadingly give the idea that more appropriations have been allocated in the Budget to research than is actually needed.
The 15 per cent rule: key guidelines and practical measures
- Applicants for funding must also plan their annual funding need (i.e. the annual instalments) as realistically as possible. When defining the annual instalments, funding possibly received from other sources for the same project must be taken into account. In their applications, applicants shall give a cost estimate including an estimate of the annual amount of funding needed, itemised by type of expenditure. Applicants shall also include a funding plan with their application, that is, all of the funding that has been granted for the project in question and funding provided by the site of research if the project is launched. The cost estimate and the annual instalments must be realistic. The cost estimate shall be justified in the research plan, itemised by type of expenditure.
- The Academy tries to make funding decisions to support the implementation of the research project in the best possible way. The decision includes both a binding decision on the total amount of funding and a proposal for its distribution into annual instalments. The annual instalments shall be complied with so that the annual deviation is at most 15 per cent.
- If the principal investigator (PI) of a research project cannot commit to the presented annual instalments (taking into account the 15 per cent rule), he/she shall submit a proposal for new annual instalments to the Academy. If the original decision seems realistic, the PI will accept the funding.
The PI can make a proposal for a change in the annual instalments. The appeal must be submitted within six weeks from the decision date in the Academy’s online services (My applications > Decisions > Make an appeal > Appeal for cost estimate). The appeal must not exceed the total amount granted for the project. No appeal can be made against the new decision on annual instalments.
- The PI will receive an email confirmation when the appeal has been submitted and the decision has been made. The new decision can be read and printed by the PI in the Academy’s online services (under My applications > Decisions). After this, the PI will accept the funds. The 15 per cent rule (item 3 above) also applies to the annual instalments of the new decision. No appeal can be made against the new decision on annual instalments.
- The PI shall, on a regular basis, monitor the use of the funds in his/her project so that he/she can adjust the activities of the project according to the money and time available.
- If the deviation from the research grant is more or less than 15 per cent, the Academy may, at its discretion, request the researcher to submit an account of the reasons for the deviation. The amount of the deviation is shown in the Academy’s data on the use of the project’s funds. The Academy uses these data as background information when making a new funding decision for the researcher in question. Major transfer instalments may result in a reduction in the amount to be granted in a new funding decision.