The Commission for Provenance Research was established in February 1998 by the federal ministry responsible for culture at the time. Its task is to investigate Austrian federal museums and collections for objects that were confiscated in the course of the persecutions during the Nazi period and ended up being owned by the Republic of Austria.

The Commission consists of administrative management and research coordination, the Bureau of the Commission for Provenance Research, and individual provenance researchers working directly in the museums and collections. They systematically investigate the acquisitions by the federal collections from 1933 to the present. Information from victims or their families is followed up but is not a prerequisite for the research.

Apart from creating case dossiers, which are passed on several times a year to the Art Restitution Advisory Board, the members of the Commission also make an important contribution to fundamental Nazi-related provenance research. Many projects by the Commission, such as the online Lexicon of Austrian Provenance Research, make the diverse research results accessible and help to promote international cooperation between researchers, interested parties and victims.