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Effort Reports

The federal Office of Management and Budget (OMB) requires an accurate record of effort contributed by University personnel to sponsored projects. These Effort Reports are generated semi-annually for all personnel except those classified as casual employees. Effort Reports must be certified within 30 calendar days of the end of the Effort Report period.

Effort is defined as the reasonable estimate of work performed by an employee on a sponsored project during the period covered by the Effort Report. Effort is not the same as the number of hours worked. It is a proportional measure of what tasks or projects that an employee worked on, regardless of how many hours they worked. Effort should always total to 100%, regardless of whether someone is full-time or part-time. Examples:

  • If a part-time employee who only worked 20 hours in a given week and a full-time employee who worked 47 hours in that same given week both worked exclusively on the same project during that week, then both of them recorded 100% effort on that project for that week.
  • If an employee worked 60 hours in a given week, and 40 of those hours were on Project A and 20 hours were on Project B, then the employee recorded 67% effort on Project A and 33% effort on Project B for that week.

Effort worked during the period must support any amount compensated. To ensure this, effort worked must be greater than or equal to the percentage of the salary that was funded from the project during the period. Also, if effort is greater than funding, cost sharing may need to be reported. 

Certifying Effort Reports is the process of reviewing Effort Reports for accuracy, making any appropriate changes to reflect effort accurately, and electronically signing the Effort Report to certify its accuracy.

There are two important aspects to managing Effort Reports well:

  • Ensure that Effort Reports are accurate
  • Certify Effort Reports in a timely manner

A person's FTE status can never be greater than his or her recorded effort. Also, when submitting Retro PAs, pay attention to the potential need for a Cost Transfer, as well as the potential effect on the accuracy of the Effort Report. All three of these components should be considered together as an integrated whole.


Effort Reporting is a 4-step process:

  • Step 1 – Before-the-fact estimation of effort.
  • Step 2 – Generation and distribution of the initial Effort Report.
  • Step 3 – Review and revision (as necessary) of the information on the initial Effort Report.
  • Step 4 – Certification of the Effort Report. 

For detailed information on the institutional effort reporting system, please see: