What if I want to certify less effort than I actually spent on a sponsored project?

PIs and other project personnel (including co-PIs, investigators, key personnel and other project staff) are expected to charge salaries to the sponsored project according to the effort actually expended. It is never acceptable to certify a larger effort than the effort actually expended.

Can I transfer charges for previously certified effort to a new project?

No, once effort is certified the salary costs cannot be transferred to a different project. Salary expense transfers, and cost transfers in general, are always closely scrutinized by auditors. Too many transfers can indicate poor grants management. By certifying effort, you are stating the percentage of salary that should be charged to a project. There is no suitable justification to change this at a later date.

My effort fluctuates from week to week and month to month. How does this affect my effort certification?

When you certify effort for a period, either a semester or a quarter, you are certifying to your average effort over the period. Therefore, as long as the percentage of salary charged over the period equals your average effort, no salary changes are required.

For example, if you charge 25 percent of your salary to research over a three-month quarter, you can spend 25 percent of your time on research the first month, 20 percent of your time on research the second month and 30 percent of your time on research the last month. Since the average of your effort equals 25 percent over the quarter, salary transfers to correct each month are not required.

Similarly, if you expend your effort as above but charge 25 percent the first month, 20 percent the second month, and 30 percent the third month, you would certify to 25 percent effort for the quarter.

How do I account for effort spent on proposal preparation?

Activity for proposal preparation for new and competing renewals cannot be charged to a sponsored project. An appropriate percentage for proposal preparation, which can fluctuate based on activity, must be charged to a non-sponsored account and certified as “All Other Institutional Effort” in eCert. Effort spent on non-competing continuations (progress reports) may be charged, and certified, to the project for which it is being done.

When I certify effort for research assistants, do I also certify their tuition remission?

Yes, since tuition remission for RAs can be charged in proportion to his or her payroll allocation, by confirming the RAs effort and salary on a grant you will be confirming the charges for tuition remission to that grant as well.