Effort Reporting


Effort reporting is the process of confirming that an employee’s payroll distribution reflects a reasonable estimate of the employee’s effort on all institutional activities.

Faculty, staff, and students working on sponsored projects are required by federal law to report effort on sponsored projects on a systematic and reasonable allocation basis. This includes all permanent and some temporary employees, depending on their employment contract type.

Each individual working on a sponsored project is the primary person responsible for the timely and accurate completion of that individual’s own effort report. Principal investigators (PIs) are equally responsible to be certain that every individual working on the PI’s sponsored project has completed an effort report. Administrative units are expected to facilitate sponsored project management in order to enable the timely and accurate submission of effort reports. Additionally, administrative units should ensure that employees receive the appropriate training for their specific roles in the effort reporting system.

Effort is the proportion of time spent on any activity and is expressed as a percentage of an employee’s total institutional activities.

Although effort is used to support salary charges to awards, effort describes how individuals spent their time, not how their salaries were funded.

Effort is not based on a standard workweek but rather a proportion of the total effort expended on all activities. (100 percent effort = time required to complete total institutional activities.)

Effort Certification Process

Who Is Included in Effort Reporting

All faculty and professional staff who have salary charges or effort commitments to externally sponsored research projects should complete effort reports. Classified employees and students should also complete reports if they are paid from sponsored projects. All of their effort should be certified regardless of how much time was devoted to sponsored projects.

Who Should Certify

PIs and the individuals are encouraged to sign effort reports. If an individual or PI is not available to certify the effort report, an individual having direct firsthand knowledge of the employee’s total effort, or suitable means of verification that the work was performed, may certify.

“Suitable means of verification” is a documented review of records in support of work performed. Some examples of these records might include calendars, teaching schedules, logbooks, or sponsor budgets. Other means of verification may also suffice, including emails attesting to effort devoted based upon either firsthand knowledge or a review of a suitable means of verification.

Certification Instructions

On a quarterly basis, an effort report will be generated for all required employees whose compensation was charged in whole or in part to a sponsored project during the respective effort period. These effort reports must be certified by an individual as outlined above. The effort reports will contain data indicating the percentages of the individual’s institutional base salary that were allocated to sponsored project accounts and other university activities. These salary allocation percentages are not effort percentages; they are provided solely for informational purposes. Certifiers are expected to review the payroll distribution percentages on the effort report and to determine whether those percentages reasonably correspond to the percentages of the individual’s actual effort on each project or activity, recognizing that within an academic setting, teaching, research, service, and administration are often inextricably intermingled. If salary percentages reflect the actual effort, the person completing the form (certifier) should sign the report. If the percentages do not reasonably reflect the actual effort, corrections should be made to change the percentages to more accurately reflect actual effort performed.

Effort must total 100 percent. If changes are made to the effort report, the changes must still add up to 100 percent. As a general rule, reasonable variances are expected. However, changes of 5 percent or more should be documented, and an appropriate salary cost transfer should occur. For a given sponsored project, the certifier should determine if the percentage of salary is appropriate and/or the effort commitment has been met. If so, it is appropriate for the individual to certify to the displayed percentages.

In general, effort reports are due within 30 days of the date that effort reports are distributed. Regular follow-up is performed by OSP until the report is received.

Recertifications and Salary Cost Transfers

Every effort should be made to minimize the need for retroactive salary cost transfers through the use of more effective financial planning at the time the project begins. Ongoing monitoring should also occur during each effort reporting period.

Retroactive salary cost transfers should be initiated within 90 days of the effective start or transfer date. In all cases, changes should be initiated prior to grant/contract termination. They must be initiated no later than 30 days prior to the final report deadline. If an exception to the 90?day rule is required, a memo with a clear justification must be sent to OSP for approval. Departments are encouraged to assign employees to restricted accounts as soon as the level of effort is known so that retroactive transfers are kept to a minimum.

Only in rare circumstances will subsequent salary cost transfers be permitted once effort has been certified to for a given period.