Verifications, certification & audits: common findings in 2014-2020 and outlook on 2021-2027

Verifications, certification & audits: common findings in 2014-2020 and outlook on 2021-2027

September 14-18 September, 2020, Mediterranean Conference Centre, Valletta, Malta

- Discounted Price (till 24 August 2020): EUR 1,999

- Normal Price (from 25 August 2020): EUR 2,499

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Common irregularities: prevent, correct, report, reduce

September 14-16 September, 2020, Mediterranean Conference Centre, Valletta, Malta

- Discounted Price (till 24 August 2020): 1,499

- Normal Price (from 25 August 2020): 1,699

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Case studies: Going through the EC, ECA & OLAF Audit findings

September 17-18 September, 2020, Mediterranean Conference Centre, Valletta, Malta

- Discounted Price (till 24 August 2020): EUR 999

- Normal Price (from 25 August 2020): EUR 1,199

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€639bn worth of ESI Funds have been allocated to OPs in the 2014-20 programming period, less than 35% has been spent by selected projects so far*.  As the implementation of the 2014-20 Programmes moves into its seventh year, huge efforts are being made to ramp up project delivery and absorption of funds.  At the same time we’re already speaking about the next programming period 2021-27! That’s the cycle of EU funds.

Financial management – with its focus on inputs and outputs – makes up two-thirds of the coveted ‘VFM’ or sound financial management.  Yes, the 2014-20 programmes promote performance and results, or the final third of the pie.  But it’s only achieved if financial management is conducted properly, respecting all rules, regulations and laws.

This course delivers a complete, practical toolkit for the implementation of the EU budget and the performance of management verifications and control on EU-funded projects.  It is designed for all levels of experience, from beginner to the most seasoned managers and controllers.  It provides an extended update on latest developments in the verification and certification of the ESI funds, delivering insight into the errors which still prevail, the controls which are working and those which are not, the state of public procurement after the Directives and national transpositions, the simplification measures, result-orientation, financial instruments, state aid, revenue-generating projects, horizontal priorities, and the audit findings by the main EU institutions, amongst other.

* as at 31st December 2019, https://cohesiondata.ec.europa.eu/overview

Course Highlight

i. Discussing the common errors reported in the recent reports by the EC, ECA, OLAF and other;

ii. Understanding the role of management verifications in the context of the principles and priorities promoted for the 2014-20 financial period;

iii. Presenting the Guidance Note which guides management verifications through the 2014-20 financial period;

iv. Identifying methods for the verification of eligibility, horizontal priorities, publicity, revenue-generating projects and durability;

v. Exploring the different requirements attached to verifying and certifying indicators and ESF projects;

vi. Reviewing the simplified cost options and their verifications;

vii. Applying the right verification and certification methods for financial instruments;

viii. Analysing the features of management verifications in the context of the current regulations for Public Procurement;ix. Understanding the certification of expenditure, the clearance of annual and interim payments and the automatic decommitment rule;x. Analysing how work on verifications and certifications feeds into the Management Declaration and Annual Summary;

xi. Reviewing the audit findings by the main EU institutions, being, EC auditors, the European Court of Auditors and OLAF.

Venue & Accomodation

TRAINING VENUE

Mediterranean Conference Centre, Valletta, Malta

The training course will take place at the Mediterranean Conference Centre in Valletta, Malta. The 16th century building has long been one of Valletta’s most remarkable landmarks. Located towards the tip of Valletta peninsula, the MCC stands for distinction with magnificent views across the Grand Harbour..

Target Audience

Managing Authorities, First Level of Control Bodies, Intermediate Bodies, Certifying Authorities, Audit Authorities, Central Coordination Authorities, Central or Regional Ministries, Finance Officers, Auditors, Methodology Departments, Irregularities officers, officers carrying verification (administrative or OTS) checks.

OUR TRAINERS

Delivering knowledge, experience and good feelings!

Ray Bartolo

Head of Institution

Trevor Fenech

Director – Lead Speaker

Justine Schinas

Senior Advisor

AGENDA

Our Plan for day 1 - 5

DAY 1

Timeline Plan

Monday 14th September 2020
08:30-09:00
Registration and distribution of training material
09:00-09:30
Introduction – Setting the objectives and expected outcomes
09:30-10:30
Irregularities in EU-funded projects: definitions & relevant statistics We start from the end of the story. The course kicks off with an overview of the most common errors, irregularities and fraud cases as reported by the European Commission, the European Court of Auditors and the European Anti-Fraud Office (OLAF).  Understanding the errors helps in designing better controls.
10:30-11:00
Coffee Break
11:00-11:45
Prevent #1: Safeguarding and preventing the EU Budget from irregularities This session discusses the mechanisms to safeguard the EU Budget from irregularity, describing the different layers of assurance and the tools used to deter the occurrence of irregularity and fraud.
11:45-12:30
Detect #1: Ensuring a timely detection of errors (at first-level of control): EC Guidance note on management verifications Prevention mechanisms are just one side of the coin. Detection methods are equally essential in safeguarding public funding.  This session discusses the features that ensure the timely detection of error, irregularity, fraud and corruption in EU-funded programmes, with particular emphasis on the fraud indicators.  We also review the principles of the EC Guidance note on management verifications.
12:30-14:00
Lunch
14:00-14:30
Detect #2: Eligibility of projects & expenditure errors The first specific topic relating to management verifications (OTS stands for both administrative and on-the-spot verifications) is eligibility of expenditure.  We discuss its verification at all levels of the programme, particularly the question whether national eligibility rules are more demanding than the minimum rules set by the EC.
14:30-15:00
Detect #3: Durability & Net Revenue Here we discuss the verification of revenue-generating projects, the funding gap and durability of the project after completion.
15:00-15:30
Coffee Break
15:30-16:15
Detect #4: verifying Horizontal Priorities & Publicity This is an essential element to ensure absorption of funds is maximised.  One error in a horizontal priority of a programme and a systemic correction might need to be applied on all projects. First-level control by IBs, MAs and CAs is crucial.
1615-16:30
Concluding remarks and wrap-up of Day 1

DAY 2

Timeline Plan

Tuesday 15th September 2020
08:30-09:00
Welcome coffee
09:00-10:00
Detect #5: Public Procurement A workshop on the verification of the preparatory phases of the public procurement process – studies justifying procurement, selection of procurement procedure, budgeting, the tender document, exclusion, selection and award criteria, specifications and more.
10:00-10:30
Correct #1: Determining financial corrections to public procurement errors The main guidance tool for the application of financial corrections provides the basis for our discussions in the workshops which follow. This session analyses the principles behind it.
10:30-11:00
Coffee Break
11:00-11:45
Reduce #1: Simplified Cost Options An intensive workshop exploring all simplified cost options through practical examples to display the different verification procedures to adopt under each, with the latest Omnibus Regulation updates
11:45-12:30
Reduce #2: Financial Instruments Financial instruments are a relatively new aspect of verifications. In this session we explore the application of financial instruments in the ESI Funds, and their verifications.
12:30-14:00
Lunch
14:00-16:15
The Mediterranean Conference Centre ERDF project: a Case Study This on-site workshop gives an overview of the ERDF-funded project at the Mediterranean Conference Centre, the same venue in which the course is held.  We look into the challenges faced during preparation and the current implementation of this €7m project at a site of significant historic and cultural value for Malta.
16:15-16:30
Concluding remarks and wrap-up of Day 2

DAY 3

Timeline Plan

Wednesday 16th September 2020 - EUfundingGozo Projects Expedition
08:00-08:30
Meeting in front of MCC
STOP 1
CF 125: Salina Road Project
Discussing
CF 118: Rehabilitation of Maghtab Landfills
STOP 2
CF 198 – Cirkewwa Ferry Terminal
STOP 3
ERDF 31 – Upgrading of Zewwieqa Waterfront
STOP 4
ERDF 32 – Ggantija Temples Conservation Project
Discussing
ERDF 24 – Upgrading of Villa Rundle Gardens
STOP 5
CF 1.1.0.2 – Restoration and Upgrading of Mgarr-Victoria Link
Discussing
ERDF 142 – Developing a cultural and historical eco-museum
STOP 6
ERDF 246 – Implementing of Cittadella Masterplan
STOP 7
ERDF 140 – The Ta’ Pinu shrine project
18:30-19:00
Returning to Valletta

DAY 4

Timeline Plan

Thursday 17th September 2020
08:30-09:00
Welcome coffee
09:45-10:30

Systems Audits: Malta’s experience with EC audits
Following the application of the common methodology for the assessment of management and control systems in the Member States, systemic errors may need to be corrected.  We analyse the criteria and understand what actions to take.

10:30-11:00
Coffee Break
11:00-11:45
ECA Annual Report A brief overview of the findings reported in the latest annual report.
11:45-12:30
Case Study: Malta’s experience with ECA audits We recall the main lessons learnt from an ECA audit held on the Transport Sector, analysing the audit approach adopted and the interpretation of the cases audited.
12:30-14:00
Lunch
14:00-14:30
OLAF Annual Report A look into the latest report by OLAF gives us an insight of the most serious findings and of the work of the major stakeholders in the fight against fraud.
14:30-15:00
Case Study: Malta’s experience with OLAF audits In this session we will discuss the outcome of an OLAF audit carried out on an ESF project. We analyse the auditors’ approach and the impact of their decision.
15:00-15:30
Coffee Break
15:30-16:15
Single Audit arrangements – the assurance model for 2021-2027 A proportionate approach in the performance of audits is planned from the 2021-27 progammes.  This day concludes with an overview of these plans.
16:15-16:30
Concluding remarks and wrap-up of Day 4

DAY 5

Timeline Plan

Friday 18th September 2020
08:30-09:00
Welcome coffee
09:00-09:45
ECA Performance Audits We explain the notion of performance audits and discuss their application to the evaluation and audit of sound financial management.
09:45-10:30
Presenting results of performance audits carried out by ECA on ESIF – Part I The most important findings in ECA performance audit reports are presented and discussed.
10:30-11:00
Coffee Break
11:00-11:45
Presenting results of performance audits carried out by ECA on ESIF – Part II The most important findings in ECA performance audit reports are presented and discussed.
11:45-12:00
Concluding remarks and distribution of certificates

Calendar

2020 Training Programme