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4. The basics of effort certification at UMass

The remaining modules make several references to the term effort coordinator an individual that reviews each certification and assists faculty and staff with the process of certifying effort.  UMD has one primary effort coordinators in ORA.  The primary effort coordinator will review and process the final certification statements.

Whose effort must be certified?

Effort must be certified for all UMD faculty, staff, students, and postdoctoral researchers who either:

1.      Charge part or all of their salary directly to a federally funded sponsored project, or
2.      Expend committed effort on a federally funded sponsored project, even though no part of their salary is charged to the project

Who certifies for whom?

Effort must be certified by a responsible person with suitable means of verifying that the work was performed. This is a federal requirement. It is never acceptable to circumvent this rule.

Each principal investigator certifies the effort for the professional staff, graduate students, postdoctoral researchers, and classified staff who work on his or her research projects.

Sometimes the PI doesn't have a suitable means of verifying the effort for all the people who work on a project - and someone else, like a lab manager, does. In such cases, the PI and the effort coordinator can work together to establish a designee's authorization to certify for project staff members.

Sometimes a staff person works on multiple projects for two or more PIs. In such cases, each PI certifies the staff persons effort related to the PIs particular project(s).

When must effort be certified?

Effort must be certified annually.

The period of performance that you will certify is September 1 to August 31.

The time during which you certify effort is called the certification window. The certification window begins a month or more after its corresponding period of performance.

Each time a certification window begins, you will have approximately six weeks to certify the effort for the corresponding period of performance.


If you think you have certified effort incorrectly, contact ORA to ask about recertifying.

Once the last date of the certification window has passed, a subsequent recertification can call into question the reliability of the certification process. Therefore, your request must explain why the effort was erroneously certified, and why the requested change is more appropriate within the context of law, federal requirements, or University policies and procedures. Your written request will be reviewed by the Director, Office of Research Administration. Only in the most compelling of circumstances will it be approved.

How to certify effort

Use the Web-based ECC system to certify effort for faculty, full-time staff, postdoctoral researchers, and graduate students.

For student and part-time hourly workers, the timesheet serves as the mechanism for certifying effort.

ECC cannot be used to certify the effort for some individuals. This includes:

  • Faculty and staff with zero-dollar, zero-percent appointments
  • Some faculty and academic staff members who have left the university

Modules in this course describe how to certify with ECC. If you cannot certify your effort with ECC, contact your effort coordinator or ORA with questions about how to certify.

Certifying effort versus certifying payroll

Your effort statement shows, for a specified time period, the sources from which you were paid and the percent of your salary that was charged to each source. This payroll information is an important building block of the effort statement. But it's not the only thing you should think about when certifying your effort.

It would be a mistake to think of the effort certification process as "confirming that this is how you were paid by the university." Remember that when you certify effort correctly, you are providing an assurance to the sponsor that:

The university's salary charges are reasonable, given the work that was performed, and

Faculty and staff have met their commitments to sponsors, regardless of whether the university requested salary support for the effort.

For some people, this will require a change of mindset. The next module describes some things to consider when determining your effort distribution and certifying effort.


Go back to main menu The Basics of Effort Reporting or

Continue to Module 5. Effort certification guidelines

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