The application and decision-making procedure is illustrated in the diagram on the previous page. Following receipt of an application via the FWF online portal (incl. the completed mandatory cover sheet), the application is checked for completeness and any formal errors and the applicant receives an acknowledgement of receipt. The application is assigned to a reporter and an alternate. The research area (or research areas for interdisciplinary projects) plays a major role in this assignment, but the FWF keeps a close watch for any possible conflicts of interest on the part of reporters, alternates and FWF employees.
The Austrian Research and Technology Promotion Act (FTFG) requires all FWF employees and board members to perform their duties conscientiously and in an impartial, unbiased manner. Where conflicts of interest arise, Art. 7 of the Austrian General Administrative Procedures Act (AVG) obliges those parties to refrain completely from participating in the procedure and in particular not to take part in any voting. In addition to the direct relationships mentioned in Art. 7 of the AVG, other important factors may exist that could give rise to doubts about complete impartiality, e.g. when a member of the FWF Board has a personal connection to the matter under discussion or to the applicant that might jeopardise his/her impartiality. This also applies in cases where uninvolved third parties might get the mere impression of a conflict of interest.
In discussions of applications received from persons, institutions or working groups to which a member of the FWF Board has a specific professional or personal relationship, that FWF Board member is not permitted to take part in the deliberations and is required to leave the meeting room for the duration of the relevant discussion. Specifically, the following rules apply to institutional biases/conflicts of interest; FWF Board members who belong to certain institutions (organisational units) are generally considered to have a conflict of interest with regard to all applications received from persons affiliated with that institution (organisational unit):
a) Members of any organisational unit with fewer than 900 academic faculty members (including professors) are automatically subject to an institutional conflict of interest. Specifically, this rule applies to the following universities (each in their entirety):
- University of Veterinary Medicine Vienna,
- University of Leoben,
- University of Applied Arts Vienna,
- University of Music and Performing Arts Vienna,
- Mozarteum University Salzburg,
- University of Music and Performing Arts Graz,
- University of Art and Industrial Design Linz,
- Academy of Fine Arts Vienna.
b) At present, there are only two organisational units at universities in Austria which have 900 or more academic faculty members (including professors) and are therefore not automatically subject to an institutional conflict of interest:
- Faculty of Philological and Cultural Studies, University of Vienna
- Faculty of Natural Sciences, University of Graz
In addition to institutional conflicts of interest, the same rules regarding conflicts of interest apply here as those for reviewers (see Appendix).
In cases where a FWF Board member submits an application, it is not handled by the scientific and administrative project officers who normally would be in charge of it. The member must leave the meeting room while the application is being considered by the FWF Board. All reviews received are generally made available to all FWF Board members (exceptions to this rule must be justified).