ETH Board, 11 July 2019

At its meeting of 10/11 July 2019, the results of the external investigations conducted at the behest of the ETH Board into the accusations levelled against ETH Zurich in a supervisory complaint were on the ETH Board’s agenda. They paint a positive picture of the allocation of funds and governance at ETH Zurich’s Department of Physics. The ETH Board takes note of the results of the investigation with satisfaction.

Berne, 11 July 2019 – At its meeting of 10/11 July 2019, the ETH Board took cognisance of the independent report on the administrative investigation conducted by BDO AG, which notes that at ETH Zurich’s Department of Physics, the rules governing the allocation of funds are complied with and that the funds are allocated in a lawful, appropriate and sufficiently transparent manner, that there is no discrimination regarding the appointment of leading functionaries and that there are no indications of corruption and of abuse of office and power at ETH Zurich.
The investigation was conducted by the renowned Swiss auditing, accounting and consulting company BDO. The anonymised report is being published alongside this media release. 

Allocation of funds is lawful, appropriate and sufficiently transparent
BDO came to the conclusion that there are clear rules for the allocation of funds in the Department of Physics at ETH Zurich and that these rules are also complied with, adding that they are lawful, appropriate and sufficiently transparent. However, transparency with regard to fund allocation is limited and should be increased. There was no discernible discrimination or arbitrariness. 
The ETH Board supports the institutions of the ETH Domain in further enhancing fund allocation transparency.

Transparent rules for the appointment of leading functionaries 
According to the BDO report, the rules for the appointment of leading functionaries are transparent at the Department of Physics of ETH Zurich. BDO considered the organisation of management and supervision to be lawful, appropriate and transparent. However, the appointment proposals should be supplemented by a job profile and the candidates’ qualifications and experience for the purpose of increased transparency.

No corruption and abuse of office
With regard to the charge of corruption and of abuse of office and power at ETH Zurich, it can be noted that the investigation did not find any indications of corruption or abuse of office.

Additional investigation by the Swiss Federal Audit Office (SFAO)
By way of complementing BDO’s administrative investigation, the Swiss Federal Audit Office (SFAO) conducted an additional investigation at two departments of ETH Zurich and at two faculties of EPFL. The main aim of the SFAO’s investigation was to establish whether there was bias at the expense of women professors and whether there were sufficient options for objections in the case of differences of opinion.
The SFAO comes to the conclusion that there is no systematic discrimination on the basis of gender but suggests reinforced measures to promote transparency. The ETH Board supports this recommendation.


Link: Administrative investigation in the Department of Physics at ETH Zurich, (28 June 2019, BDO AG, document in German only)