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Sponsored Projects Administration

WHAT IS EFFORT?

Effort refers the proportion of time spent on any single professional activity which is reflected as a percentage of the total professional activity for which an individual is employed by an institution. 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. It is always equal to 100%.

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?

Effort is not payroll! It is not just a verification of the salary or payroll distribution. 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 drives payroll. Payroll does not drive effort.

WHAT IS COMMITTED EFFORT?

The proportion of effort committed to a particular activity expressed as a percentage of the individuals total activity for the institution. The level of committed effort proposed for a project should reflect the percent of time & effort required to meet the goals of the project.

WHAT IS EFFORT CERTIFICATION?

Effort reporting is a process mandated by the federal government to verify that direct labor charges to, or cost shared on, sponsored projects are accurate, timely, and reflect the actual level of work performed. It provides 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.

Effective December 26, 2014, OMB Circular A-21 was replaced by the Uniform Administrative Requirements, Cost Principles and Audit Requirements for Federal Awards (the Uniform Guidance), 2 CFR Part 200. Like Circular A-21, the Uniform Guidance requires an after-the-fact review of charges made to Federal awards that were based on budget estimates. At UTHealth, this required after-the-fact review is carried out through the effort reporting process described on this website.

All faculty and PI’s who receive sponsored project funding or commit effort to any sponsored projects are required to certify their own effort.Principal investigators are required to certify the effort of postdocs, graduate students and staff funded by their grants.

Effort certification, at UTHealth is completed with eCRT® (Effort Certification and Reporting Technology. It is a web-based system that integrates financial, payroll, and research administrative functions and is designed to enhance compliance management, improve financial information for academic units through comprehensive reporting, and significantly reduce the administrative burden of the effort reporting process. eCRT® is available 24/7 from any computer with an Internet connection.

EFFORT CERTIFICATION SCHEDULE

Certification occurs twice a year to cover the periods from January-June and July-December. When the effort certification period becomes available, the appropriate staff will be notified and will have 30 days to complete the effort certification statement.

Reporting Period Pre-Review Period Certification Period 1st Travel Restriction (only statement NOT on hold) 2nd Travel Restriction (all uncertified statements)
January 1st to June 30th July 6th to July 18th July 19th to August 19th August 20th September 20th
July 1st to December 31st January 5th to January 18th January 19th to February 19th February 20th March 20th
If any of the above dates falls on a weekend or holiday, the action will occur the next business day

EFFORT REPORTING REQUIREMENTS

Who Can Certify an Effort Report?

All faculty and PI’s who receive sponsored project funding or commit effort to any sponsored projects are required to certify their own effort.

Principal investigators are required to certify the effort of postdoctoral trainees, graduate students, and non PI classified staff funded by their grants. Faculty do not certify other faculty statements. All faculty certify their own effort.  Also, all principal investigators (PIs), regardless of their classification, certify their own effort.


Who May NOT Certify An Effort Report?

Postdoctoral trainees, graduate student, & non PI classified staff should not certify their own effort statement. Please note that department administrators generally cannot certify effort statement. University policy requires faculty to certify for themselves and their project staff. Federal regulations require a certification that the salary charged is reasonable in relation to the effort expended. The regulations further require that the certification be signed by the principal investigator, responsible official or employee, using suitable means of verification. If an active faculty member or PI has a special situation that prevents traditional system certification please contact effort@uth.tmc.edu 


What Type of Effort Must Be Reported?

All employees whose salaries are charged directly, in whole or part, to sponsored projects or are used to meet cost-sharing or matching requirements on sponsored projects and/or have committed effort to sponsored projects, including faculty, professional and non-professional employee.

Sponsored Project Accounts are those accounts involving grants, contracts, gifts, & endowments.

Faculty with joint appointments (e.g., with the university and The University of Texas M. D. Anderson Cancer Center) will account only for their activity associated with the university.

Use institutional base salary to compute salaries charged to sponsored projects. Institutional base salary is the total guaranteed annual compensation an individual received from the university, whether the individuals time is spent on research, teaching, patient care or other activities.Institutional base salary includes compensation for instruction, patient care, public service, research, and/or other activities. Institutional base salary 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. 

Certification in eCRT is not completed for casual/nonpermanent/temporary employees. The submission of a timesheet, signed by the employee & their supervisor who uses a suitable means of verification that the work was performed, is the document of record to substantiate salary charges to sponsored projects. The timesheet includes a certification of effort & fulfills the requirements of OMB Uniform Administrative Requirements, 200 CFR §430.


Why Is It Important to Certify Efforts?

Effort certification is required by extramural sponsors including the federal government. Failure to comply with the terms & conditions of an award may cause a sponsor to take enforcement action and jeopardizes UTHealth’s federal research funding.  Multi-million dollar fines for erroneously certifying effort have been levied against several institutions. In addition, the university's reputation could suffer due to negative publicity, possibly resulting in loss of confidence by current and future stakeholders in the ability of the campus to administer and provide proper stewardship of funds.


EFFORT REPORTING ROLES & RESPONSIBILITIES

Having users in different roles mains a proper separation of duties. Each role has its own system permission/access. Systems & Reporting grants access to the eCRT system. Contact effort@uth.tmc.edu to gain access to the eCRT system.