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Effort Reporting at UTHealth

Effort Reporting 101

Effort Certification is UTHealth’s means of providing assurance to sponsors that salaries charged to sponsored projects are reasonable in relation to the work performed and that faculty and staff have met their commitments to sponsored projects.

Why is Effort Certification Important?

Effort certification is required by extramural sponsors including the federal government. A failure to certify effort correctly and in a timely manner could jeopardize UTHealth’s federal research funding.  Multi-million dollar fines for erroneously certifying effort have been levied against Johns Hopkins University, Northwestern University, Harvard University, and East Carolina University.  

What Does This Mean for Me?

  • If your salary is charged in whole or in part directly to a sponsored project, you must have your effort certified. 

  • Also, if you expend committed effort on a sponsored project, even though no part of your salary is charged to the project, you must certify your effort.    

  • All faculty certify their own effort.  Also, all principal investigators (PIs), regardless of their classification, certify their own effort. 

  • All graduate students, postdoctoral trainees, and non-PI classified staff will have their effort certified by their PI.  

What Effort IS

Simply stated, effort refers to the amount of time you spend on a particular activity. As employees of UTHealth, our compensation is commensurate with our work on a set of activities which we were hired to perform (or are expected to perform as part of our being employed by the university). For individuals working on sponsored research, it includes the time spent working on a sponsored project in which all or part of their salary is directly charged or contributed (cost-shared effort).

Individual effort is expressed as a percentage of the total amount of time spent on work-related activities (teaching, research, service administration, etc.) for which the University compensates an individual.

Effort is not calculated based on a 40-hour workweek, it is based on the total hours worked in a given week. For example, if If a person works 80 hours a week, and spends 20 hours a week on her grant, then her sponsored effort is 25% (20/80=0.25)

What Effort IS NOT

Payroll distributions and effort reports are not the same thing. Payroll distributions are the distribution of an individual's salary, while effort reports describe the allocation of an individual's actual time and effort spent for specific projects, whether or not reimbursed by the sponsor. Thus effort reporting is separate from and can be independent of salary charges.

Effort is not just a verification of the salary or payroll distribution. Cost-shared or contributed effort must be included in effort reports.