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Office of Financial Analysis
Division of Financial and Business Services

eCert Frequently Asked Questions

 

All eCert Users

What is eCert?

What are the roles in eCert?

What is an ECD?

How do I log into the new eCert system?

How do I view previous ECD documents?

Since SCera is no longer available, how do I access eCert documents from the SCera system?

Why do the quarters appear different than before?

I know an account should have an NIH cap but it’s not showing the ECD.

I never received a Kuali notification that an ECD had been routed to me.

Certifiers

My account has been frozen, what do I do?

How do I determine out who my preparer(s) are?

How do I view previous ECD documents?

I have an expense transfer pending, how does that affect my eCert?

The percent effort that is populating in the eCert system is different than what my payroll shows

I used to certify the efforts of my Research Assistants (RAs) to 25%, 33%, or 50%, depending on their appointment. Now I am only able to complete the RA certification at 100%. Why? 

I just added a preparer but that preparer still is not able to see the document.

Preparers

My PI's account has been frozen, what do I do?

How do I get assigned as a preparer for a particular certifier?

I have an expense transfer pending, how does that affect my eCert?

I was a preparer for a PI but now I'm not.

What happens to terminated employees?

Reviewers

My PI's account has been frozen, what do I do?

How do I find the preparer(s) for a particular PI?

How do I get access to be a reviewer?

Why am I receiving a notification for terminated employees?

I just added a preparer but that preparer still is not able to see the document.

 

 

What is eCert?

Effort Certification (eCert) is a way for the government and other sponsors to verify salary charges on sponsored projects at USC.  Project efforts are estimated based on the USC payroll system.  Principal Investigators (PIs) and exempt staff must go into the system and confirm that the efforts are accurate.

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What are the roles in eCert?

Effort Certification (eCert) has three primary roles: Preparers, Certifiers, and Reviewers:

 

  • Certifiers – Certifiers are faculty or exempt staff at USC that are paid off of at least one sponsored project.  They are required to certify effort certification documents for themselves and, in the case of PIs with students, their graduate research assistants.
  • Preparers – Preparers usually work directly for the PI or are part of a departmental administration team.  They may prepare the effort certification documents for certifiers
  • Reviewers – Reviewers are generally senior department administrators and have large oversight over the departments.  They are able to assign preparers to certifiers and can run status reports for their organization codes.  They can also delegate effort certification documents to other certifiers as needed

 

What is an ECD?

An ECD (Effort Certification Document) is the naming convention for effort certification documents in the new Kuali Effort Certification system. “eCert documents” are in reference to our SCera legacy system.

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How do I log into the new eCert system?

Users may log into the eCert system in three different ways:

 

  • Clicking the link in the notification sent to users (via email)
  • Through their action list (via Kuali Financial System)
  • From the Kuali Financial System main page (via Kuali Financial System)

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How do I view previous ECD documents?

All ECDs from prior periods can be found using the “EC Document Inquiry” tool.  From the EC Dashboard, click “EC Document Inquiry” on the left-hand navigation.  From here, you may search for ECDs a number of different ways.  If you are looking for an ECD for a specific person, you may search by the employee’s 7-digit USC Employee ID. You may also search by field such as account number, school code, organization code, and ECD number.

You may also search for prior period ECDs by clicking on the  “View ECDs for a different certification period” link in the top left-hand corner of the Dashboard.  This will allow you to choose which previous period’s ECD you would like to view. 

 

Effort certifications from the old “SCera” system are not available using this function.  SCera data was archived by the Office of Financial Analysis.  Requests for this data may be made by calling (213) 821-1937 or by emailing ecert@usc.edu.

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Since SCera is no longer available, how do I access eCert documents from the SCera system?

Old eCert documents are in reference to our old legacy eCert system.  The information associated with old eCert documents were archived by the Office of Financial Analysis.  Should you require old eCert documents, please contact USC’s Office of Financial Analysis at 213-821-1937.  

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Why do the quarters appear different than before?

Kuali requires that the Effort Certification system operate off of a fiscal year whereas the SCera system operated on the calendar year.  Historically, Quarter 1 of the Effort Certification cycle was the first quarter of the calendar year (January – March).  In the new Effort Certification system, the first quarter of the Effort Certification cycle will be the first quarter of the fiscal year (July-September).  The table below illustrates quarters in the old effort certification system versus the new effort certification system.

Quarters

Quarter

SCera system

Kuali system

1

January-March

July-September

2

April-June

October-December

3

July-September

January-March

4

October-December

April-June

 

Semesters

Semester

SCera system

Kuali system

1

Fall

S01

2

Spring

S02

3

Summer

S03

 

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I know an account should have an NIH cap but it’s not showing the ECD.

If the effort on the NIH grant is small, the salary cap offset may be so small that the effort rounded to the nearest whole number is zero.  When the NIH salary cap offset rounded to the nearest whole number is zero, no salary cap line item will be visible.  This line may become visible if the effort on the grant is increased.

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I never received a Kuali notification that an ECD had been routed to me.

When ECDs are created or routed to individuals, that individual will receive a Kuali Action List item.  To ensure that you always receive these emails, please be sure that you have these notifications turned on within Kuali.  For more information on controlling your Action List emails, please go to the Kuali Action List FAQS for email notifications.

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My account has been frozen, what do I do?

In the Kuali Effort Certification System, accounts are frozen immediately once the period for certification expires.  To unfreeze the accounts, all past due certifications associated with a frozen account must be completed. To determine which ECDs have not been completed, click on the “Other Certifications on Award(s)” on the main Certifier ECD Dashboard.

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How do I determine who my preparer(s) are?

A new feature in the Kuali Effort Certification system is the “My Team” link.  My Team allows you to easily determine your preparers and reviewers.  From the Dashboard, click on the “My Team” link on the left hand navigation.  The preparers that have been assigned to you and the reviewers for your home department will show.

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I have an expense transfer pending, how does that affect my eCert?

Payroll Expense Transfers that are processed and finalized before the effort certification period is opened will be reflected in the new effort certification system. 

Once the effort certification period has opened, payroll expense transfer must be initiated from within the Kuali Effort Certification system by adjusting the effort percentages.  When a change is made on an ECD that is greater than or equal to 1%, a payroll expense transfer is initiated and routed to the preparer (or to the certifier if there is no preparer). 

If a payroll expense transfer is initiated but not finalized before the effort certification period opens, then the initial payroll expense transfer document must be cancelled once proper changes in eCert are completed.  The changes to efforts in eCert will cause a new payroll expense transfer to be initiated.

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The percent effort that is populating in the eCert system is different than what my payroll shows

The new effort certification system is designed to adjust the percent effort for various forms of salary caps (i.e. the NIH  salary cap).  Grants that are subject to the salary caps are flagged within the Kuali system and assigned a cap amount based on cap criteria (whether the grant is NIH, CIRM, and the date at which the project began).  The effort certification system calculates the percent effort by applying the cap rate it determines against the employee’s pay.  It is always important to double check the efforts that are calculated.  

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I used to certify the efforts of my Research Assistants (RAs) to 25%, 33%, or 50%, depending on their appointment.  Now I am only able to complete the RA certification at 100%.  Why?

The new eCert system requires that all efforts equal 100%. 

The only exception to this rule is in the case of split RAs.  In this case, the Effort Certification Document (ECD) for the RA will be split based on pay and routed to the two respective PIs.

For example: an RA was paid $11,250 in total over the Fall semester -  $2,812.50 (25%) was paid from PI “A”’s grant and $8,475.50 (75%) was paid from PI “B”’s grant.  PI “A” will receive an ECD for the RA that equals 25%.  PI “B” will receive an ECD for the RA that equals 75%.

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I just added a preparer but that preparer still is not able to see the document.

The Kuali Effort Certification system updates preparers every hour on the hour from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m.  If at 11:30 am a reviewer delegates a preparer to a certifier, the preparer will not see the certifier’s ECD until noon.  If preparer delegations are made after hours (after 6 pm), it may not be visible until the following morning.

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My PI’s account has been frozen, what do I do?

In the Kuali Effort Certification System, accounts are frozen immediately once the period for certification expires.  To unfreeze the accounts, all past due certifications associated with a frozen account must be completed. To determine which ECDs have not been completed, click on the “Other Certifications on Award(s)” on the main Certifier ECD Dashboard.

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How do I get assigned as a preparer for a particular PI?

Certifiers and Reviewers can assign you as a Preparer.  Please reach out to either your reviewer or the certifier for which you would like to prepare ECDs. 

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I have an expense transfer pending, how does that affect my eCert?

Payroll Expense Transfers that are processed and finalized before the effort certification period is opened will be reflected in the new effort certification system. 

Once the effort certification period has opened, payroll expense transfer must be initiated from within the Kuali Effort Certification system by adjusting the effort percentages.  When a change is made on an ECD that is greater than or equal to 1%, a payroll expense transfer is initiated and routed to the preparer (or to the certifier if there is no preparer). 

If a payroll expense transfer is initiated but not finalized before the effort certification period opens, then the initial payroll expense transfer document will be cancelled once proper changes in eCert are completed.  The changes to efforts in eCert will cause a new payroll expense transfer to be initiated.

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I was a preparer for a PI but now I’m not.  What happened?

Only four preparers are allowed per certifier.  In the old system, the number of preparers allowed per certifier was unlimited.  Now, if more than four preparers are added to one certifier, the first preparer is removed to make room for the new addition.

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What happens to terminated employees?

Terminated employees are routed to the reviewer for that home department.  That reviewer will then route the ECD to the appropriate supervisor for approval.  The supervisor that receives the terminated employee’s ECD must have direct knowledge of the work that is being performed.  For example, in the case of terminated exempt staff, the reviewer might route to the PI of the sponsored project.  In the case of a terminated PI, the reviewer might route the terminated PI’s ECD to the department chair and the ECDs of the terminated PI’s research assistants to the PI who is now overseeing those projects.

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My PI’s account has been frozen, what do I do?

In the new effort certification system, accounts are frozen immediately once the deadline has passed.  To unfreeze the accounts, all certifications associated with that account must be completed. To determine which ECDs have not been completed, a certifier can click on the “Other Certifications on Award(s)” on their main ECD Dashboard.

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How do I find the preparer(s) for a particular PI?

From the EC Dashboard, click on the “Delegate a Preparer” link on the left-hand navigation.  If you have the certifier’s employee ID, you may enter it in the first search box, and hit search.  This will bring up the certifier and a list of his or her preparers.

If you do not have the certifier’s employee ID number, you may drill down to the certifier by clicking on their school, then department, then certifier name.  Once you click the check box next to the certifier’s name, a list of their preparers will show.

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How do I get access to be a reviewer?

Access as a reviewer must be given through the Training and Access office in the Office of the Comptroller.  These requests can be made by the Senior Business Officer through the User Access Request Document found in Kuali’s Workflow Main Menu.

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Why am I receiving a notification for terminated employees?

All ECDs must be routed to an active employee.  Since terminated employees are no longer active, ECDs associated with these employees are flagged and routed to a reviewer.  The reviewers must then determine the correct person who had the most oversight over the terminated employee (this is likely a department chair if the terminated employee was a PI or a PI if the terminated employee was an RA or staff).

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