Effort Reporting: Top 10 Things a P.I. Should Know

by National Council of University Research Administrators

Effort Reporting is our means of providing assurance to sponsors that:

1. Salaries charged to sponsored projects are reasonable in relation to the work performed, and

2. Faculty and staff have met their commitments to sponsored projects.

Success in the effort realm depends on careful attention to important issues throughout the sponsored projects lifecycle and communication with the P.I. Below are the Top 10 things a P.I. should know about effort:

Top 10 Things a P.I. Should Know about Effort

1. Effort is your work on a project, whether the sponsor pays your salary or not

2. When you write yourself into a grant proposal, you are committing your effort to the sponsor.

3. If you reduce your effort, paid or unpaid, on a federal grant by 25%, you must have agency approval. If you reduce your paid effort, you may choose to document cost-sharing so that the total effort does not decrease.

4. Many activities cannot be charged to a federally sponsored project. For example, the time you spend on these activities cannot be charged:

  • Writing a proposal
  • Serving on an IRB, IACUC or other research committee
  • Serving on a departmental or university service committee

5. If you work on a sponsored project, you must certify your effort.

6. Certifying effort is not the same as certifying payroll.

7. Certification must reasonably reflect all the effort for all the activities that are covered by your University compensation.

8. Effort is not based on a 40-hour work week. It's not based on hours at all.

9. Effort must be certified by someone with suitable means of verifying that the work was performed.

10. In identifying audit findings, auditors look for indications that certification was based on factors other than actual, justifiable effort.

- Robert C. Andresen,
Assistant Director Research And Sponsored Programs, University of Wisconsin - Madison

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