Statutes of the Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft
as amended by resolution of the General Assembly on 3 July 2019, recorded in the Register of Associations of the Municipal Court of Bonn on 20 September 2019
under no. VR 2030
[Translator’s note: This is the English translation of an original German legal text. In the event of a discrepancy, the German text is binding.]
- Article 1 Purpose of the Association
- Article 2 Name, Seat, Fiscal Year, Public Benefit Status
- Article 3 Membership
- Article 4 Bodies of the Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft
- Article 5 General Assembly
- Article 6 President
- Article 7 Executive Committee
- Article 8 Executive Board
- Article 9 Secretary General
- Article 10 Head Office
- Article 11 Senate
- Article 12 Joint Committee
- Article 13 Committee for Executive Board Affairs
- Article 14 Audit Committee
- Article 15 Review Boards
- Article 16 Funding of Research Projects
- Article 17 Expense Reimbursement, Limitation of Liability
- Article 18 Statutory Amendments, Dissolution of the Association, Dedication of As-sets to Public Benefit
- Article 19 Transitional Provisions, Entry into Force
Article 1 Purpose of the Association
The Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft (DFG, German Research Foundation) serves all branches of science and the humanities by funding research projects and facilitating national and international collaboration among researchers. It devotes particular attention to the advancement and training of early career researchers. The DFG promotes gender equality in science and academia. It advises parliaments and public interest institutions on scientific matters and fosters relations between the research community and society and the private sector.
Article 2 Name, Seat, Fiscal Year, Public Benefit Status
(1) The name of the Association is “Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft”. Its seat is in Bonn. It is recorded in the Register of Associations. The fiscal year begins on 1 January and ends on 31 December.
(2) The DFG pursues exclusively and directly public-benefit purposes as defined in the tax-privileged purposes section of the German Fiscal Code (Abgabenordnung). The Association is nonprofit; it does not primarily pursue its own economic interests. Funds of the Association may only be used for purposes set forth in the Statutes.
(3) Members as such do not receive allocations from the funds of the Association. No person may gain personal benefit either through payments which do not conform to the objectives of the Association or through disproportionately high remuneration.
(4) The Association may transfer funds to other corporations as per Section 51, paragraph 1, sentence 2 of the German Fiscal Code and to legal persons under public law in order to promote science and research; the transfer of funds to domestically based corporations under private law requires that these are tax-privileged for public-benefit purposes.
Article 3 Membership
(1) The following may be admitted as members of the Association:
a) institutions of higher education that are research institutions of general importance,
b) other research organisations of general importance,
c) the academies joined in the Union of the German Academies of Sciences and
Humanities for their respective scientific and academic disciplines,
d) scientific associations of general importance that serve the purpose of the
(2) Membership is determined by resolution of the General Assembly by a majority vote of its members. Applications for membership must be submitted to the General Assembly with a recommendation from the Senate.
(3) There are no membership dues.
(4) Withdrawal from the Association is only possible at the end of the fiscal year. The intent to withdraw must be submitted to the Executive Board no later than six weeks prior to this time.
Article 4 Bodies of the Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft
(1) The bodies of the DFG are:
a) the General Assembly (Mitgliederversammlung)
b) the President (Präsident or Präsidentin)
c) the Executive Committee (Präsidium)
d) the Executive Board (Vorstand)
e) the Secretary General (Generalsekretär or Generalsekretärin)
f) the Senate (Senat)
g) the Joint Committee (Hauptausschuss) and, by its appointment, the Committee
for Executive Board Affairs (Ausschuss für Vorstandsangelegenheiten) and the
Audit Committee (Ausschuss für Rechnungsprüfung)
h) the Review Boards (Fachkollegien)
(2) Resolutions of the bodies are adopted regularly by a simple absolute majority of the votes cast, unless the Statutes provide otherwise. Details are governed by regulations for elections and voting, which the Joint Committee adopts. For elections and votes in the General Assembly, the General Assembly may adopt differing regulations.
(3) Activity in the bodies of the DFG is on an honorary basis, unless the Statutes provide otherwise.
Article 5 General Assembly
(1) The General Assembly determines the principles of the work of the DFG.
(2) It elects, in accordance with the following provisions and with rules of procedure to be adopted by it, the President, the Vice Presidents and the members of the Senate. It confirms the appointment of the Secretary General by the Joint Committee.
(3) The General Assembly receives the annual report and the annual accounts from the Executive Board, and decides on the approval of the actions of the Executive Board.
(4) The ordinary meeting of the General Assembly is held once a year. The place and time are determined by the Executive Committee. The President convenes the General Assembly. The invitation together with the agenda must be received by the members no later than three weeks prior to the annual meeting. The General Assembly must also be convened if requested by the Executive Committee, the Joint Committee or one-third of the members. If the President is prevented from convening the General Assembly or fails to comply with the request within three weeks after its submission, the General Assembly may also be convened by two Vice Presidents.
(5) Members of the Joint Committee are to be invited to the meeting of the General Assembly. They may attend in an advisory capacity.
(6) For each meeting, a secretary must be elected to keep the minutes of the meeting.
The chairperson of the meeting and the secretary must sign the minutes.
Article 6 President
(1) The President represents the DFG internally and externally. His or her term of office is four years. It begins on the first day of the calendar year following the election. Re-election is possible once. The term of office of the departing President ends when the newly elected President takes office.
(2) The President develops jointly with the Executive Committee the strategic and conceptual direction of the DFG.
(3) The President chairs the meetings of the Executive Committee, the Executive Board, the Senate, the Joint Committee and the General Assembly.
(4) If the President is prevented from attending, he or she is represented by a Vice President of his or her choice. If the President is unable to appoint someone, the Executive Committee chooses the Vice President who will represent the President.
(5) The President is appointed on a full-time basis. The Committee for Executive Board Affairs determines the terms of his or her employment.
Article 7 Executive Committee
(1) The Executive Committee consists of the President and the Vice Presidents, the number of whom are determined by the General Assembly. They are elected for a term of four years until the conclusion of the fourth ordinary meeting of the General Assembly following their election; re-election is possible once. Article 6, paragraph 1, sentence 5 applies accordingly. In addition, the president of the Stifterverband für die Deutsche Wissenschaft is a member of the Executive Committee in an advisory capacity.
(2) The Executive Committee prepares the resolutions of the Senate and the Joint Committee to the extent that they are not funding decisions. The members of the Executive Committee attend the meetings of the Senate, the Joint Committee and the General Assembly in an advisory capacity. The Vice Presidents may attend the meetings of all bodies in an advisory capacity. For the President, this applies analogously with the exception of the meetings of the Committee for Executive Board Affairs and the Audit Committee.
(3) The Joint Committee may decide that the members of the Executive Committee be granted an appropriate expense allowance by the Committee for Executive Board Affairs.
Article 8 Executive Board
(1) The Executive Board as defined by Article 26 of the German Civil Code (Bürgerliches Gesetzbuch) consists of the President and the Secretary General.
(2) The Executive Board conducts the regular business of the DFG and performs all duties not assigned to another body under these Statutes. It represents the DFG in legal transactions. The Executive Board may appoint special representatives for certain types of business as per Article 30 of the German Civil Code.
(3) The Executive Board reports in the Executive Committee on the performance of its duties. It reports to the General Assembly, the Senate and the Joint Committee on the affairs of the DFG.
(4) The President lays down the guidelines for the activities of the Executive Board and determines the allocation of responsibilities within the Executive Board, subject to the rights and duties of the Secretary General under paragraph 5 and Article 9, paragraph 1. The Executive Board adopts rules of procedure.
(5) The responsibilities of the Secretary General include the implementation of the budget in accordance with the decisions of the Joint Committee.
(6) If the Secretary General departs before the end of his or her regular term of office, the Executive Committee may, with the approval of the Joint Committee, appoint a substitute member to the Executive Board. The term of office of the substitute member ends at the conclusion of the next meeting of the General Assembly.
Article 9 Secretary General
(1) The Secretary General manages the Head Office of the DFG on a full-time basis.
(2) He or she is appointed by the Joint Committee upon recommendation of the Executive Committee for a period of up to eight years and confirmed by the General Assembly. Reappointments are possible. The term of office does not begin prior to confirmation by the General Assembly.
(3) Early dismissal of the Secretary General by the Joint Committee or the Committee for Executive Board Affairs is possible upon recommendation of the Executive Committee, which requires a two-thirds majority of its voting members.
(4) Early dismissal by the Committee for Executive Board Affairs requires the approval of all its voting members. The members of the Joint Committee are to be notified immediately of the decision to dismiss. It takes effect 14 days after the dispatch of the notification, unless the majority of the members of the Joint Committee, the representatives of the federal government, or the majority of the representatives of the states in the Joint Committee demand before this date that the matter be referred to the Joint Committee.
(5) If the employment is terminated, the statutory status of the Secretary General ends automatically.
(6) The Committee for Executive Board Affairs determines the terms of employment of the Secretary General.
(7) He or she attends the meetings of the Executive Committee in an advisory capacity. The Executive Committee may exclude his or her participation in individual agenda items for important reasons. He or she may also attend the meetings of all other bodies, with the exception of the meetings of the Committee for Executive Board Affairs and the Audit Committee, in an advisory capacity.
Article 10 Head Office
(1) The Head Office supports the work of the bodies of the DFG, implements their decisions and administers the funding programmes.
(2) The Head Office reports to the Executive Board and the Executive Committee on the current business of the DFG.
(3) The activities of the Head Office are governed by rules of procedure adopted by the Executive Board.
Article 11 Senate
(1) The Senate is the central scientific body of the DFG. It deliberates and resolves, within the principles adopted by the General Assembly, on all major matters of the DFG, unless they are reserved for the Joint Committee.
(2) The Senate determines which review boards are to be formed and how they are to be structured. It ensures that the review boards cover the full range of fields in science and the humanities and take due account of their disciplinary research interests and interdisciplinary relationships.
(3) The Senate consists of 39 members. The president of the German Rectors’ Conference, the president of the Union of the German Academies of Sciences and Humanities and the president of the Max Planck Society are ex officio members of the Senate. The General Assembly elects the remaining 36 members in a staggered rotation system. Researchers who work at institutions of higher education or other research institutions are eligible for election. The General Assembly may also elect other persons, in consideration of certain expertise relevant to the DFG. Voting is based on the person; elected members of the Senate do not act as representatives of institutions. Adequate representation of the entire spectrum of research disciplines must be sought in the composition of the elected members. Article 7, paragraph 1, sentences 2 and 3 apply accordingly to the term of office of the elected members.
(4) For the elections, the Senate, upon recommendation by the Executive Committee and in consideration of proposals from the members of the DFG, prepares slates of nominations, which as a rule comprise three names for each vacant seat. Details are governed by rules of procedure.
(5) If a member of the Senate leaves during his or her term of office, the Senate may co-opt a replacement member from the previous slates of nominations to complete the departing member’s term of office.
(6) Meetings of the Senate are convened by the President. The President must convene the Senate at the request of at least one-third of its members. As a rule, the resolutions of the Senate are passed in the meetings. In individual cases, resolutions may also be passed by circular (in writing, by fax or electronically) upon decision by the Executive Committee.
(7) Within its mandate, the Senate may establish committees and commissions whose members need not be members of the Senate.
Article 12 Joint Committee
(1) The Joint Committee is responsible for the funding of research by the DFG. It deliberates on the development of DFG funding policies, funding activities and programme planning on the basis of resolutions by the Senate. The Joint Committee adopts rules of procedure.
(2) The Joint Committee adopts the budget.
(3) The Joint Committee consists of the members of the Senate, representatives of the federal government, with a total of 16 votes, 16 representatives of the state governments, and two representatives of the Stifterverband für die Deutsche Wissenschaft.
(4) The Joint Committee passes its resolutions in meetings that are convened by the President, or by circular (in writing, by fax or electronically). The representatives of the public funding bodies may transfer their voting rights in writing, by fax or electronically to another member of the Joint Committee. Such proxy must be granted separately for each meeting of the Joint Committee.
(5) Within the scope of its authority, the Joint Committee may establish subcommittees whose members need not be members of the Joint Committee. To the extent that such subcommittees are delegated powers of the Joint Committee under paragraph 1, sentence 1, they must adopt rules of procedure which at least govern their composition and require the approval of the Joint Committee. Paragraph 4 applies accordingly to subcommittees.
Article 13 Committee for Executive Board Affairs
(1) The Joint Committee establishes a Committee for Executive Board Affairs consisting of an elected member of the Senate, a representative of the federal government, a representative of a state, and a member of the governing body of a member institution appointed by the General Assembly. The Committee is chaired by the member appointed by the General Assembly. A further representative of a state as well as two members of the Executive Committee who are not members of the Executive Board attend the meetings of the Committee for Executive Board Affairs in an advisory capacity. The Committee may order the attendance of members of the Executive Board during individual agenda items.
(2) The Committee for Executive Board Affairs is responsible for concluding, amending and terminating the employment contract with the President and the Secretary General. It determines in particular their remuneration and is responsible for the reporting and approval of these persons’ ancillary activities as well as for determining the rights and obligations of these persons under the terms of their employment.
(3) The Committee adopts rules of procedure, which require the approval of the Executive Committee and the Joint Committee. Resolutions require a majority of the votes cast. If requested by the representative of the federal government or the representative of the state, the subject of a resolution is to be referred to the Joint Committee. Article 9, paragraph 4 remains unaffected. Article 12, paragraph 4 applies accordingly, with the provision that the chairperson of the Committee takes the place of the President.
Article 14 Audit Committee
(1) The Joint Committee establishes an Audit Committee. Regarding its composition, chairperson, and the participation of a further representative of a state, of members of the Executive Committee and of the Executive Board, Article 13, paragraph 1 applies accordingly.
(2) The Audit Committee is responsible for auditing the legality and regularity of the implementation of the budget and of the accounting. It may inspect and audit the books and records of the Association as well as its assets, in particular its treasury and holdings of securities and goods. It may also delegate these tasks to individual members or, in the case of certain tasks, to special experts. It appoints external auditors to audit the annual accounts, determines the scale and scope of the audit assignment, receives the auditors’ report, and forwards it to the General Assembly with a recommendation regarding the approval of the actions of the Executive Board.
(3) Article 13, paragraph 3 applies accordingly.
Article 15 Review Boards
(1) The review boards evaluate research funding proposals. In doing so, they also monitor the maintenance of uniform standards in the review process. They are consulted on issues concerning the further development and refinement of the funding programmes of the DFG.
(2) Members of the review boards are elected by researchers for four years in accordance with election regulations to be adopted by the Senate. Re-election is possible once.
(3) The review boards adopt rules of procedure, which must be approved by the Senate.
Article 16 Funding of Research Projects
(1) Researchers and research institutions may submit proposals to fund research projects and their supporting structures within the funding programmes.
(2) Grant proposals, apart from minor cases, are decided on the basis of scientific review and evaluation.
(3) Research projects are reviewed in writing or by a review panel. In the latter case, the review panel may also make the necessary evaluation if at least one member of the relevant review board participates.
(4) All decisions on grant proposals are by, or based on, a decision by the Joint Committee or its subcommittees.
(5) The DFG Head Office administers the review, evaluation and decision processes.
Article 17 Expense Reimbursement, Limitation of Liability
(1) For activity in the statutory and other bodies and the associated expenditure of time, no remuneration is paid, including flat allowances for attendance, unless the Statutes provide otherwise. However, members of such bodies are entitled to reimbursement of expenses demonstrably incurred in connection with activity in these bodies in accordance with a resolution of the Joint Committee.
(2) Liability of members of statutory and other bodies to the Association and to the members is limited to intent and gross negligence. If members of such bodies are liable to compensate third parties for any damage they have caused in the performance of their duties within these bodies, they may request from the Association to be exempted from liability, provided that the damage was not caused intentionally or by gross negligence.
Article 18 Statutory Amendments, Dissolution of the Association, Dedication of Assets to Public Benefit
(1) Amendments to the Statutes and dissolution of the Association require a three-fourths majority vote by the General Assembly. The General Assembly may only resolve to dissolve the Association if at least three-quarters of the members are represented. If the required number of members is not represented, another meeting of the General Assembly must be convened, which is then quorate regardless of the number of members represented.
(2) In the event of dissolution of the Association or should the Association pursue objectives which are other than nonprofit, the Association’s assets are transferred to an institution under public law or to another tax-privileged organisation to use for the promotion of science and research. If several institutions are under consideration, the General Assembly decides. This decision requires approval by the public funding bodies.
(3) A decision by the General Assembly to amend or delete paragraph 2 requires approval by the public funding bodies.
Article 19 Transitional Provisions, Entry into Force
The amendments to the Statutes compared to the version of the resolution of the General Assembly of 2 July 2014, recorded in the Register of Associations under no. VR 2030 at the Municipal Court of Bonn on 11 November 2014, enter into force in accordance with the following provisions:
- Until the first appointment and confirmation of a Secretary General in accordance with Article 9 as amended by the resolution of the General Assembly of 3 July 2019, a substitute member to the Executive Board may be appointed in accordance with Article 8, paragraph 6.
- The remaining amendments to these Statutes enter into force upon entry of the Statutes in the Register of Associations.
Adopted by the General Assembly of the Notgemeinschaft der deutschen Wissenschaft, the legal predecessor of the current organisation, on 18 May 1951 in Munich and on 2 August 1951 in Cologne; amended by resolutions of the General Assembly on 22 October 1954, 2 April 1955, 27 October 1959, 10 February 1960, 17 July 1964, 1 July 1971, 27 June 1978, 15 January 1991, 6 July 1993, 3 July 2002, 2 July 2008, 2 July 2014; last amended and resolved on 3 July 2019 in Rostock. First recorded in the Register of Associations of the Municipal Court of Bonn on 27 March 1952 under no. VR 777, transferred on 14 October 1963 to no. VR 2030.