Frequently Asked Questions (click on the question to see the answer)
What is effort reporting?
Effort reporting is the federally-mandated process by which the salary charged to a sponsored project is documented as being reasonable in relation to the effort expended on that project. Discussion: During the course of the year, the university charges salaries to sponsored projects and other accounts based on allocation instructions (i.e., the percentage of salary to be charged to one or more sponsored projects or other accounts based on committed effort) provided by academic department personnel acting upon instructions from Principal Investigators and others who oversee those sponsored projects. Federal regulations and university policy require that throughout the course of the year, these charges be monitored to ensure that any significant change in effort or workload results in a change of the salary distribution.
Who is required to certify?
All faculty members who receive any portion of their salary from a sponsored project, or otherwise provide effort on a sponsored project, must self certify their effort. In addition, a Principal Investigator is required to certify the effort of other staff who devote effort to his/her sponsored project.
Why can't a departmental administrator certify my effort for me?
University policy requires faculty to certify for themselves and their project staff. In addition, Federal regulations require a certification that the salary charged is reasonable in relation to the effort expended. The regulations further require that the certification be signed by the principal investigator. The university has determined that best practices dictate that faculty self certify their sponsored effort. In addition, a Principal Investigator is now required to certify the effort of others charged to his/her sponsored project.
How often must I certify my effort?
You are required to certify shortly after the conclusion of each fall, spring, and summer semester. There is a 30-day period of time during which the certification process may be done. You will be notified by e-mail when the certification period begins and the date by which the certification must be completed.
How precise must my effort be?
Federal regulations clearly acknowledge that precise determinations are not expected, and that reasonable estimates are acceptable. To quote directly from OMB Circular A-21, "It is recognized that, in an academic setting, teaching, research, service and administration are often inextricably intermingled. A precise assessment of factors that contribute to costs is not always feasible, nor is it expected. Reliance, therefore, is placed on estimates in which a degree of tolerance is appropriate." Consistent with the Federal regulations, the university requires you to use your best judgment in your certification, taking into consideration all of the sponsored activities--federal, state, or private-that you were engaged in during the course of the fiscal year.
If I need to reduce the effort on (and therefore the salary charged to) my sponsored project, where will the funding for that non-sponsored effort come from?
Funding for non-sponsored activities such as teaching, administrative activities (including proposal writing as described above), as well as cost sharing on sponsored activities must be charged to non-sponsored sources (i.e., departmental funds). Under no circumstances may the costs associated with these activities be charged to sponsored projects; funding for these activities is a departmental and/or College issue and you should discuss this with your Chair and/or Dean.
I didn't know about these effort rules when I filled out my grant application. Is it too late to fix the problem now?
No. If you have concerns about your grant application, contact the Office of Research Administration.