Effort Reporting Frequently Asked Questions

1. What is the Office of Research and Economic Development’s (ORED) contact information?

Florida International University
Modesto A. Maidique Campus
11200 S.W. 8 Street, MARC 430
Miami, FL 33199-0001
Phone: (305) 348-2494
Fax: (305) 348-4117

2. Where can I find the effort reporting policy?

All University policies and procedures are located in one central on-line location in the University Policies and Procedures Library maintained by the University Compliance Office at http://policies.fiu.edu/. Effort reporting policies may be found at http://policies.fiu.edu/files/350.pdf.

3. What is effort and effort reporting?

Effort is the proportion of time spent on an institutional activity expressed as a percentage.

Effort reporting provides a means of verifying that: Effort compensated by a sponsored project has been performed as promised (direct charge), and that effort expended on a sponsored project, but not compensated by that project (cost sharing), has been performed as promised.

Effort reports must account for all effort for which the University compensates an individual. This includes all effort expended on sponsored projects, administration, business development, instruction and non-sponsored scholarly activity, clinical activity, and other activity as prescribed in federal circular 2 CFR § 200, Uniform Administrative Requirements, Cost Principles, and Audit Requirements for Federal Awards (Uniform Guidance); NIH Salary Limitation on Grants; and other policies that govern the need to provide certification of an individual’s effort pursuant to his/her sponsored and non-sponsored activities. It does not include effort for which the employee receives compensation directly from another entity (e.g., outside consulting work) or incidental work for which supplemental compensation (i.e., extra state/overload compensation) is paid.

Effort is not calculated on a 40-hour workweek or other University approved standard workweek. Thus, even when the number of hours of effort the employee expends during the period reported substantially exceeds the “normal” workweek of 35-40 hours, the total effort expended by the employee must account for all the work performed by the employee and cannot exceed 100%.

If the employee worked 40 hours in one week on a sponsored project and 20 hours in the same week on an unrelated University project, then the employee’s effort report should show 67% effort devoted to the sponsored project (40 hours divided by 60 total-effort hours) and 33% on the unrelated University ID — regardless of the fact that the employee’s normal work week might be 40 hours. Effort is expressed as a percentage based on the total number of hours worked by the individual and is not reflected as hours. The total effort expended cannot be more than > or less than < 100%, unless the employee is part-time in which case the total effort must be consistent with part-time status.

4. Who is subject to effort certification requirements?

Effort certification in the ecrt system is required for any individual who works any portion of their time on a sponsored project, paid directly from the project or cost shared. Exempt employees’ effort is to be certified in the ecrt system. Non-exempt employees’ effort is certified by timesheet submitted to HR. Effort is to be certified by the project PI, unless the user has the certifier role, as well. All PI’s have the certifier role and are responsible for certifying their own effort and the effort of those who performed on their project, unless the user also has the certifier role. Some key personnel users may also have the certifier role and would be responsible for certifying their own effort, instead of the PI. When a user who does not have the certifier role performed effort on multiple projects with different PI’s, each PI will have access to certify the effort performed on only their own project and the non-sponsored portion of the card.

5. How often do I need to certify effort?

Effort is certified 3 times per year (spring, summer, fall). The 30-day certification period takes place after-the-fact. The one-week pre-review period begins 3 weeks after the period of performance, then the certification period begins. All effort reports must be certified (certifier) and processed (effort coordinator, if necessary) by the certification deadline.

6. What is Cost Sharing?

Cost sharing is a commitment of institutional funding or resources to support a specific sponsored project for which the University is not compensated by the sponsoring agency. There are three types of cost sharing:

  1. Mandatory/Committed: cost sharing that is documented in the proposal and agreed to in the sponsor’s awarding documents.
  2. Voluntary/Committed: cost sharing that the sponsor did not require, but the proposal included, and subsequently became a condition of the award.
  3. Voluntary/Uncommitted: cost sharing that the University provided to the project, but was not required by the sponsor (this type of cost sharing occurs when effort exceeds pay, such as with salary caps).

Cost sharing must be manually added by the certifier or effort coordinator to be reflected on the card each semester. Manage>Add Cost Sharing

7. When is it necessary to make adjustments to effort or payroll?

Any project certified with a difference of +/-5%, or more, between Computed Effort (payroll + cost share) and Certified Effort, will require payroll transfer(s) or recertification, whichever is appropriate.

8. What would happen if a project is certified exceeding the +/-5% threshold between Computed Effort (payroll + cost share) and Certified Effort?

The primary effort coordinator should contact the certifier to determine the cause for the difference. If certified inaccurately, the PEC can “return to certifier” for recertification, rather than “process” the effort card. If effort was certified accurately, then the effort card should be processed and payroll transfers should be submitted in panthersoft to close the gap between computed effort and certified effort. If the effort card was already certified and processed when the payroll transfer is processed, when the payroll file containing the transfer is loaded into ecrt, a task will be created in ecrt which Office of Research must post to the card and then reopen the card for recertification.

9. In which cases will an effort card be reopened?

An effort card may be reopened if a payroll transfer is processed and causes the certified effort to no longer align with the computed effort. An effort card may also need to be reopened if it is in “certified, processed” status and an end user realizes that an update needs to be made to the card. If a user needs a card to be reopened, a documented request must be made to the Office of Research by email (ecrt@fiu.edu).

10. Why are Primary Effort Coordinators and secondary effort coordinators needed?

Each department is required to have one primary effort coordinator. Secondary effort coordinators won’t receive any processing tasks. Secondary effort coordinators can help in reviewing effort cards and various reports, and can also serve as a backup to the primary effort coordinator, if necessary.

11. How does ecrt adjust for the pay periods which are split between semesters?

ecrt splits pay periods into 14 days and includes only the amount for the days in the period of performance.

12. What should be done when a primary effort coordinator will be on leave or vacation during the pre-review and/or certification period?

An email request must be sent to ecrt@fiu.edu to request the necessary change. An alternate effort coordinator must be provided to serve as the backup while the primary effort coordinator is away.

13. What is the process for requesting a change in primary effort coordinator?

An email request must be sent to ecrt@fiu.edu, along with department approval, to request the necessary change.

14. How do supporting individuals get access to ecrt?

An email request must be sent to ecrt@fiu.edu, along with department approval, to request the necessary change.