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Effort Reporting FAQs

What is meant by the term “Effort”?

Total effort is defined as all professional activity for which the University compensates an individual, including students working as teaching or research assistants. For reporting purposes, effort is calculated in percentages of compensated effort with the total allocation of effort being 100%.

What activities are included in Effort?

Effort includes all activities that are associated with an individual’s institutional base salary. Total effort includes activities university/instructional effort, sponsored project effort, department administration effort, clinical activity effort, affiliated institutional activity effort, effort on other institutional activities. Incidental and non-institutional activities are not included in effort.

What is meant by the term Effort Reporting?

Effort reporting is a method for documenting and certifying actual activity expended in work required to fulfill an individual’s employment obligation to the University. It may include both sponsored and non-sponsored activity. Certification of reported effort for personnel associated with sponsored projects is required by the federal government (OMB Circular A-21).

What is the difference between Payroll Distribution and Effort Distribution

Payroll distribution and effort reporting are related but not the same thing. Payroll distribution is the distribution of an individual’s salary while an effort report describes the allocation of an individual’s actual time spent on the project whether or not reimbursed by the sponsor. Thus effort reporting is separate from and can be independent of salary charges.

Payroll Distribution reflects the activities to which salary is charged in the payroll system. An effort distribution should reflect the percentage breakdown of an individual’s time actually spent on activities regardless of where the salary is charged. Since the payroll system is constantly updated with actual salary distributions changes and budget transfers, ERS relies on actual payroll charges as the basis for the certification. Therefore, individuals completing the certification must report actual effort, regardless of where the salary was charged in the payroll system.

Who is subject to Effort Reporting/Effort Certification?

Faculty, staff and graduate students will complete effort certification reports if they perform work on any sponsored project, funded directly or by a federal pass-through organization. Their effort will include any work related to activities to fulfill their individual employment obligation to the University, whether the effort is paid or unpaid. Non-exempt employees, undergraduates and/or college work study students who complete auditable time sheets and pre/post-doctoral students, supported only by fellowships are not subject to effort reporting procedures.

What is meant by the term “Effort Certification”?

Effort Certification is the process for ensuring compliance with the payroll distribution requirements of the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) Circular A-21, which addresses "principles for determining costs applicable to grants, contracts, and other agreements with educational institutions." The policies, provisions, and cost accounting standards in A-21 are mandatory for institutions which directly or indirectly receive federal funds. Essentially, this process ensures that direct labor charges to sponsored projects are reasonable and reflect actual work performed.

Who should certify Effort?

Effort of faculty, staff and graduate students should be certified either by the employee or by an individual having suitable means of verifying the effort distribution (e.g., the principal investigator, department administrator or designee having oversight and firsthand knowledge of the employee’s effort). The department administrator will ensure that all certifications are completed accurately and timely.

When is Effort certified?

Effort is certified on twice per fiscal year. The two time periods are July 1st – December 31st and January 1st – June 30th.