First level control

First level control is the set of specific verifications (administrative and on-the-spot checks) carried out in conjunction with the management and implementation of OPs to verify compliance with the fundamental principle of sound financial management and correct execution of operations. This control shall be carried out prior to the submission of each expenditure certification by the Certifying Authority to the European Commission.

The first level control differs from further controls carried out by the Certifying Authority and the Audit Authority respectively.

The task of carrying out controls shall be entrusted to the First Level Control Office, an office independent from the other bodies of the management structure responsible for implementation of OPs and operations, to ensure compliance with the principle of separation of functions (Art. 125(7) Regulation (EU) 1303/2013).


Purpose of the first level control

First level control concerns “the administrative, financial, technical and physical aspects of operations” (Art. 125(4), (5) and (7) of Regulation (EU) 1303/2013) and is carried out for the purpose of:

  • Ascertaining the completeness of administrative, technical and accounting documentation on the interventions implemented;
  • Ascertaining effective and regular execution of OP-funded projects;
  • Ensuring correctness, regularity and eligibility of expenditure incurred/ declared compliantly with current European, national, regional and sector regulations;
  • Ascertaining compliance with the set requirements in terms of information and publicity;
  • Ascertaining compliance with European and national regulations on public procurement and contracts, State Aid to enterprises, environment, equal opportunities and non-discrimination;
  • Preventing double financing.

How is the first level control carried out?

Prior to setting up the audits, in order to guarantee adequate first level control, the Head of the Control Office lays down a detailed organisational planning of the activities, taking into account the human and economic resources to be used for controls and relying on the following main tools to ensure efficient and effective performance:

  • Audit trail for each OP Axis/activity;
  • Checklists on single interventions financed;
  • Time-schedule of controls;
  • Announcements of on-the-spot checks;
  • Audit reports;
  • Register of controls.

Controls on OPs managed by the Agency

For the Operational Programmes entrusted to the Territorial Cohesion Agency – Governance e Capacità Istituzionale NOP and Città Metropolitane NOP – the first level control is entrusted to Office 7 “National Competence Centre on coordination and execution of first level controls” within the Programmes and Procedures Area, functionally independent from Managing Authorities.


National Network of ERDF OPs First Level Control Offices