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BMBF/Federally Funded Projects

The Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF) and other federal ministries and agencies support numerous projects at the University of Bonn. The following describes how the project funds are administered. Naturally, our administrators will be happy to answer any follow-up questions for you.



Department 7 will be happy to advise you on your application. Department 7.1 is responsible for advising people who are requesting third-party funds.

Department 7.1 is the first point of contact; if necessary, it will coordinate a kick-off meeting between the Project Managers and all of the specialized departments involved in supporting and administering the third-party-funded project (HR and Finance). This meeting can resolve the Project Managers’ questions early on, provide early information about the parameters, and establish binding procedures.

All applications for funding from the BMBF and other federal agencies will be reviewed by Dept. 7.1, which will also arrange to have the applications signed.


1.    Project management organization

For funding from federal ministries, approval is normally not granted directly by the donor. This task is generally performed by a project management organization, which handles project administration for the BMBF / federal agencies during the approval period and is the first point of contact for Project Managers and the University administration. Project management organizations for the BMBF, for example, are normally DLR, DESY, GSI, VDI, KIT, FZJ, etc.


2.   Grant approval

As a rule, the grant approval is received by both the Project Manager and the University administration. Department 7.3 will set up a project account specifically for this project as soon as the grant approval is received. The Project Manager will be given information about the project number (PN), the responsible administrator, and other parameters to be taken into account.


3.   Acknowledgement of grant approval rules 

The University of Bonn must confirm receipt of the grant approval and acknowledge the conditions of the grant in writing. This confirmation will be issued and signed by Department 7.3 after consultation with the Project Manager. By signing the confirmation, the University of Bonn acknowledges the donor’s grant conditions. It is important for the Project Manager to be familiar with the complete grant approval, including any ancillary provisions.

Special ancillary provisions that are an individual component of the grant approval must also be observed. These can include, for instance, special approval requirements for individual trips, etc.


4.   Overall financing plan

The overall financing plan is an important component of the grant approval. It is based on application information provided by the Project Manager and any changes made by the project management organization. It contains the individual expense items and the respective grant amounts for the third-party-funded project. The grant amount for each expense item is always definitive.


5.   Reallocation of funds

1.   Among items

If money is saved for an expense item, another expense item may be overdrawn by up to 20% of its total grant amount as per the overall financing plan without involving the project management organization. Blocked amounts do not apply to the calculation.

If the expense item will be overdrawn by more than 20%, a formal reallocation of funds and thus a change in the overall financing plan must first be requested from the project management organization. The Project Manager will send a corresponding informal reallocation request to Department 7.3 that includes the following information:

  • what amount will be moved
  • from which item
  • to which item

Department 7.3 will sign the request and forward it to the project management organization.

2.   Special feature for “Item 850 – equipment list”

Since most grant approvals for federal funds include an equipment list, any overdraft for Item 850 must always be coordinated with the project management organization in order to change the equipment list. The Project Manager will send a corresponding informal reallocation request to Department 7.3, which will sign the request and forward it to the project management organization.

The financing plan is always changed and announced by sending a change notice for the grant notice to the Project Manager and Department 7.3.


6.   Payment requests = calling funds

Payment requests are created automatically by Department 7.3 at 3-month intervals; the amounts are based on the project (personnel) costs for the past months. If the grant approval requires shorter periods for submitting fund requests in individual cases, Department 7.3 will follow these requirements. Department 7.3 will send the form directly to the project management organization. The Project Manager will receive a copy for his/her files.

As a rule, it can be assumed that the payment request will be granted in full. In exceptional cases, Department 7.3 will notify the Project Manager of any deviations.

Special feature: last funding call for the year, see No. 8

Special feature: last funding call before the end of the project, see No. 10


7.   Interest

Incoming federal funds that are not spent in a timely manner (as a rule, within two months) are subject to interest of 5% above the base interest rate. Since Department 7.3 requests the funds in a careful and conservative manner, there are hardly any interest charges during the year. However, this issue often comes up at the end of the year due to very high cash balances in the project account (see No. 8). These cash balances should be avoided by planning expenditures carefully.

Interest charges cannot be charged to the project account; they must be paid from another institutional account to be specified by the Project Manager.


8.   Spending plan

Grant approvals for federal funds require fixed full-year approvals. The total project amount is divided among the years of the project term. For BMBF projects, any funds remaining in the University account at the end of the year will automatically carry over to the following year. For grants from other federal agencies, this carryover must always be requested from the donor and/or project management organization by 10/30 of the respective year, via Department 7.3.

a.    Overdraft of the annual grant amount

Overdrawing the annual grant amount is not a problem. The University will finance any overdrawn amounts.

b.   Under-usage of the annual grant amount

Problems may arise if approved annual grants are not needed or not spent during the respective budget year. Unrequested amounts will fundamentally lapse, and will no longer be available for the project. Therefore, 100% of the approved annual grants should be called in order to avoid a shortage of funds in future years (e.g. for personnel payments). However, this can lead to high cash balances at the end of the budget year, which cannot be spent in a timely manner and will then lead to interest charges by the project management organization (see No. 7).

Department 7.3 thus urgently recommends creating a projection in June/July of the ongoing budget year for the remaining funds needed in the ongoing year, so that any fund reallocations can be requested from the project management organization early on for future budget years.

The Project Manager will send a corresponding informal request to the project management organization through Department 7.3. The earlier such a request is sent, the greater its chance of success. Fund reallocation requests made in November/December are refused in most cases.


9.   Awarding contracts

All requirements and regulations for awarding contracts also apply to third-party-funded projects and thus also federally funded projects.

In the event of any questions, the employees in Department 5.3 (Central Purchasing) will be happy to help you.

When awarding research and development contracts (R&D contracts) to domestic private-sector companies, the BMBF’s sample contract must always be used. A corresponding template can be downloaded from the digital filing cabinet on the BMBF homepage and/or the responsible project management organization’s page. Please contact Department 7.2 in the Research Department about all contract-related matters (responsible for managing all R&D contracts).

For other contracts, the obligations stated in the BMBF grant approval must be part of all R&D contracts. For R&D contracts with compensation of more than €100K for contractors who were not already explicitly named in the application, written approval must be obtained from BMBF before the contract is awarded. To this end, the Project Manager will send an informal letter directly to the project management organization through Department 7.3.

Please note:

Department 5.3 must always be involved with all contracts valued at > €500.00 net. Even if a bid has already been obtained from the company in the application process for calculation purposes and this item was included in the financing plan, that does not mean the company can be contracted without an award procedure. In the event of any ambiguity, please contact Department 5.3 in advance.


10. Extension

Ideally, the Project Manager should request any necessary extension from the project management company through Department 7.3 very early on, and should include the changed expense plan as an appendix to the request.


11. Usage statements

Interim usage statements will be created by Department 7.3 and a copy will be sent to the Project Manager for informational purposes. If necessary, the Project Manager will send Department 7.3 additional documentation for the interim usage statement (particularly for the project management organization DESY, that includes explanations about personnel expenditures, travel costs and investments, and a list of receipts for other project management organizations). The interim usage statement is due by 4/30 of each year.

Usage statements (= one-time final statement for the entire project term) must be provided to the project management organization within six months of the end of the project term. The Project Manager therefore needs to send the accounting usage statement to Department 7.3 in triplicate, with all of the enclosures (list of receipts, explanation of travel costs, personnel and investments), no later than five months after the end of the project term. Department 7.3 will check the receipts and send a copy of the finalized interim usage statement and final usage statement to the Project Manager for his/her files.

The technical report should be sent by the Project Manager directly to the project management organization within the six-month submission period.

After checking the usage statement, the donor and/or project management organization will send a final notice to Department 7.3 and the Project Manager. Department 7.3 will send the “Confirmation of receipt” form back after consulting with the Project Manager.

If funds still remain in the project account after the end of the project, they must be transferred back to the donor immediately.

If the donor decides that expenses claimed by the Project Manager are not eligible for funding, and if this creates a negative cash balance in the project account, the Project Manager must balance this out with alternative funds.


12. Flat project rate

The flat project rate approved by the donor to cover indirect project costs for currently approved projects is 20%. This flat rate will initially be booked centrally, in full.

However, in the following year the Project Manager will receive 4% of the issued third-party funds as a booking item in the institute budget (known as the “PP” booking item).

Please see Circular 24/2014 dated 6/24/2014 for more information.


All of this information is also available as a download (as a Word document – information sheet on “Administrative support for third-party-funded projects funded by the Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF) and other federal agencies for Project Managers and administrative offices” – rev. February 2015). 

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