The legal status of the DFG is that of an association under private law. As such, the DFG can only act through its statutory bodies, in particular through its Executive Board and the General Assembly. In the course of its history, the DFG has refined its system of governing bodies, thus ensuring that it can fulfil its statutory responsibilities and meet the ever-changing demands in science and research.
The statutory bodies at a glance:
- The General Assembly is responsible for decisions on basic principles; this is the only body that is entitled to amend the statutes and with that the responsibilities and mission of the DFG.
- The Executive Board is made up of the President and the Secretary General. The Executive Board represents the DFG in and out of court. The Directors of Departments I - III serve as deputy board members.
Further statutory bodies of the DFG - the Executive Committee, Senate, Joint Committee and Review Boards - each represent a specific aspect of the research support to which the DFG is committed.
Organisation of the German Research Foundation (DFG)
The Executive Committee consists of a full-time President and, currently, eight Vice Presidents, who serve in an honorary capacity. The President of the Donors' Association for the Promotion of Sciences and Humanities in Germany (Stifterverband für die deutsche Wissenschaft) serves in an advisory capacity.
The Senate is responsible for questions relating to science and research policy. It represents the interests and concerns of scientific and academic research, promotes cooperation and advises governments, parliaments and public authorities by issuing scientifically founded statements. The DFG sets priorities in research by establishing thematic Priority Programmes and Research Units.
The Joint Committee is the DFG’s main decision-making body. It bases its final research-policy decisions that relate to the DFG on resolutions passed by the DFG’s Senate. These especially pertain to decisions regarding the DFG’s budget and the general development of its funding policy. The Joint Committee decides on the implementation of new funding programmes and on modifications to existing funding instruments.
DFG membership is made up of research universities, major research institutes, the academies of sciences and humanities as well as a number of scientific associations. Each member organisation is represented by one delegate at the General Assembly, which convenes once a year. The General Assembly sets the guidelines and policies for the work of the DFG, receives and examines the annual report and annual account, approbates the Executive Committee, elects the President and other members of the Executive Committee and Senate, and decides on the acceptance of new members into the DFG.
One of the main tasks of the voluntary review boards is to provide quality assurance for the review process in the preparation of funding decisions. The review boards also advise the other statutory bodies of the DFG on strategic issues.
The DFG installed an independent committee of scientific research ombudsmen to provide assistance to all researchers in questions involving good scientific practice and scientific misconduct. It was established in 1999 by the DFG's Senate in response to a recommendation by an international commission on professional self-regulation in science.
Depending on the programme, the DFG Head Office requests individual researchers or groups of researchers to review the proposals.