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Effort Reporting at UTHealth

Terms & Definitions Related to Effort Reporting

The following terms are commonly used when referring to the work that a university employee undertakes on a sponsored project.

Auto Approved: People who have no effort and no payroll charges to sponsored accounts are nonetheless brought into the system. However, when the pre-review period ends, their effort is automatically processed. All of these people were listed under the non-sponsored section of people on the "Department Dashboard" screen. Unless the effort coordinator needed to add a sponsored account for an individual, no action is needed for these individuals.

Awarded Commitment Effort commitment included in Notice of Grant Award (NOGA) from a sponsor.

Central Administrator: Individual(s) in charge of ECRT, who will be the contact for ECRT related questions and issues.

Certifier: Primary Individual who has responsibility for certifying his or her effort and the effort of non faculty who are in a supporting role for accounts where the primary individual is the Principal Investigator.

Certified Effort: Effort that has been confirmed and processed.

Certification Period: The 30-day period of time during which all Primary Individuals must certify their own effort and that of the supporting individuals who work on their projects.

Committed Effort: The amount of effort proposed in a grant or other project application and accepted by a sponsor, regardless of whether salary support is requested for the effort.

Cost Sharing: The mandatory or voluntary commitment of institutional resources to fund the difference between the total cost of a project and the cost funded by the project sponsor.

In the context of effort reporting, cost sharing is any portion of effort on a project which is not funded by the sponsor.  Calculated cost sharing is the difference between total effort and payroll.

Mandatory Cost Sharing: Cost sharing required by the sponsoring agency as a condition of its support of a particular project. Mandatory cost sharing is usually specified in a program announcement or application package. Mandatory cost sharing is a binding obligation of the university.

Salary Cap Cost Sharing: Results when an individual’s institutional base salary exceeds a sponsor’s salary limitation or cap. The prorated excess is a form of mandatory cost sharing that must be accounted for.

Voluntary Cost Sharing: Cost sharing the university contributes to a project at its own initiative without any requirement for any cost sharing imposed by the sponsoring agency. There are two types of voluntary cost sharing:

Voluntary Committed Cost Sharing: Voluntary cost sharing offered by the university at the time of proposal submission. The proposed cost sharing amount is included in the budget. Once an award is made, voluntary committed cost sharing is a binding obligation of the university.

Voluntary Uncommitted Cost Sharing: Voluntary cost sharing not offered by the university at the time of proposal submission. Voluntary uncommitted cost sharing is not included in the budget but is contributed after the award has been granted and more resources than awarded are needed to complete the project. Voluntary uncommitted cost sharing is not a binding obligation of the university.

Cost Transfers: An expense that is transferred from one account to another when an error has occurred in the amount initially charged to the account. A retroactive personnel form is the mechanism for initiating a cost transfer. (Refer to Hoop Policy 96)

Department Effort Coordinator: The department person responsible for coordination between Grants and Contracts and faculty and research staff in their departments to facilitate administration of the effort commitment, charging, and certification process. The Primary Effort Coordinator in each department is charged with monitoring completion of the Effort Cards for the department

Effort: The proportion of time spent on any activity expressed as a percentage of total institutional activities for which an Individual is compensated by UTHealth. Total effort for an employee must always equal 100%, regardless of part-time or full-time status, and regardless of number of hours worked. Effort is not calculated on a 40-hour workweek or any other standard workweek. For example, if an Individual averages 60 hours per week during the reporting period and spends an average of 15 hours on a Sponsored Program, that represents 25% Effort (15/60) and the other 45 hours, allocated to other institutional activities, represents 75% Effort (45/60).

It is important to note that payroll distribution and effort distribution are not the same thing. Payroll distribution describes the allocation of an individual’s salary; whereas, effort distribution describes the allocation of an individual’s effort.

The effort on a sponsored project may be equal to or greater than the salary charged to the project, and may be the same or different than the planned effort.

Effort Card/Statement: Screen portraying an individual’s salary and effort distribution for an effort report period that will be certified. It documents the proportion of total effort devoted by an employee to each account. When certified, the effort card is the official verification of effort attributed to and salary paid by a sponsored project. Salary paid by a sponsored project may not be greater than effort, and is subject to sponsor-imposed salary caps.

An effort card must be completed by someone with suitable means of verification of the effort expended on a project. This may be the individual or it may be the direct supervisor. Confirmation of the effort expended must be made by a Primary Individual on the project (see definition below). A Supporting Individual may not confirm the effort expended on the effort report.

Effort Certification, or Effort Reporting, is UTHealth's means of confirming that Committed Effort, whether paid on the Sponsored Project account or expended in support of a Sponsored Project but contributed or cost shared, has been performed. It is important to note that payroll distributions and Effort Certifications are related but not the same thing. Payroll distributions describe the allocation of an Individual's salary; whereas, Effort Certification describes the allocation of an Individual's Effort. Effort certification provides sponsoring agencies with a reasonable assurance that compensation for personal services charged to a Sponsored Project is appropriate and reflects a reasonable estimation of the time spent working on a Sponsored Project.

Effort Report Period: The six month period of time over which effort is reported at UTHealth. January-June and July-December .

Effort Statement: A record reviewed by Primary Individuals or their designees for effort expended on a Sponsored Project by themselves and their Support Staff. The effort statement documents the proportion of time devoted to both sponsored and non-sponsored activities, expressed as a percentage of total institutional activities of each individual. Effort statements must be reviewed and certified by Primary Individuals. Once certified by a Primary Individual, the statement becomes part of the University's auditable system of record for tracking time and effort on Sponsored Projects. The Effort Reporting Team within Sponsored Projects Administration will determine the frequency and distribution of time and effort statements.

Institutional Base Salary (IBS): The total guaranteed annual compensation an individual receives from the university, whether the individual’s time is spent on research, teaching, patient care or other activities. Institutional Base Salary shall be used to compute salaries charged to federal sponsored projects unless sponsored policies further limit salary charges. Institutional base salary includes compensation for instruction, patient care, public service, research, and/or other activities and excludes fringe benefit payments; reimbursed expenses; temporary, supplemental compensation for incidental work; income earned outside of duties to the institution; and any portion of compensation deemed to be at-risk.

Maximum Level of Effort: The required maximum level of for a university primary individual who has effort commitments on sponsored projects.  See chart below:

Faculty Position

Max Effort

Executive Leadership (Presidents, Vice Presidents, Deans, Institute Directors)


Academic Leadership (Department Chairs, Division Directors)


Tenured and Tenure-track Faculty


Non Tenure-track Faculty


Minimum Level of Effort: The required minimum level of committed effort listed for a university primary individual is 2% on every sponsored project he or she is involved in. Exceptions to this minimum level of effort are granted for equipment and instrumentation grants, doctoral dissertation grants, and augmentation grants. The minimum level and the primary individual’s actual effort should be commensurate with his or her responsibilities on that sponsored project.

Post-Certification Period: The designated period of time when the certified and processed effort cards are reviewed and evaluated for need for either retroactive salary adjustments or sponsor letters.

Pre-Review Period: The two week period of time following the end of the effort report period when the Effort Coordinator reviews compiled Effort Cards, and enters any needed revisions in preparation for certifiers’ review.

Primary Individual: A person listed as a principal investigator, project director, co-investigator, co-project director, or someone with comparable responsibilities on a sponsored project. A Primary Individual is usually a faculty member.

Suitable Means of Verification: Suitable means of verification is an indication that the person certifying the effort of another individual has a reasonable knowledge of the work performed by the other individual. Reasonable knowledge can be established by direct knowledge of the certifier, reviews of payroll and personnel records, assignment of goals, or the monitoring of established project protocols and subsequent project evaluation.

Supporting Individual: An employee other than a Primary Individual who has allocated effort to a Sponsored Program, whether or not paid by the program.  The Supporting Individual may or may not have been identified on a sponsored project application.

Sponsored Projects: Activities conducted in research, instruction, training, or public service as a result of a formal written agreement - such as a grant, contract, or cooperative agreement - obtained as a result of a formal application and approval process. These activities can be funded either externally by government, industry, or private sponsors; or, internally by UTHealth. Sponsored Projects are separately accounted for and budgeted with a defined scope of work.

Total Institutional Activities: Those activities for which an individual is paid by the university. Common activities include administrative duties, instruction, patient care, public service and research. Outside consulting or work compensated by an institution other than the University is not included in the calculation of total institutional</p