The Hungarian Scientific Research Fund (Országos Tudományos Kutatási Alapprogramok - OTKA) has been the major funding agency of basic science and scholarship since 1986 when the transition to competitive research funding started in Hungary. Its "founding fathers" modelled the principles of operation on the practice of German (Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft) and American research funds (National Science Foundation, National Institutes of Health).
Upon a government decree, OTKA has been operating as an independent non-profit organisation since 1991. Its legal status and rules of operation were established in an act in 1993 and reinforced in 1997 by the Hungarian parliament in order to provide independent support to scientific research activities and infrastructure, to promote scientific achievements of international standards, and to provide assistance to young researchers.
As an independent institution, OTKA reports to the parliament and the government of Hungary. With regards to the funds provided within the annual budget of the Republic of Hungary, the appropriations of OTKA are administered via the budget of the Hungarian Academy of Sciences. The administrative and financial tasks related to its operation are performed by the OTKA Office in Budapest.