L&S Effort Certification Guidance For Certifiers: Commitments, Payroll, Cost Share

Discussion to help effort certifiers to certify correctly, clarifying some elements (commitments, payroll, cost share, computed effort) that show up as columns in their effort cards.

Commitments and Committed Effort

Our effort periods are always six month segments, January-June and July-December.  Committed effort is a suggestion or guide, nothing more.  The overall award commitment is divided among the effort periods and displayed in the committed effort column.  The award commitment is to be met sometime during the lifetime of the award, not necessarily in the even fashion displayed by the effort card committed effort column.  That means committed effort should be taken lightly when certifying.  It’s telling you what your commitment would be if you fulfilled it evenly across the life of the award.

Payroll and Under-certification

The Payroll column displays the actual percentage that you were paid on a project in the effort period covered by the effort card.  You must certify at least that amount, or you will be under-certified and will be required to transfer the excess salary off the sponsored project.  There is no getting around it, whatever you were paid in the period must be certified fully, or be transferred off.  If you truly expended less effort than what was payrolled, that is a payroll error and must be corrected with a salary cost transfer.

Cost Share and Computed Effort

Additionally, you must certify the cost share, if any, that the project has in the cost share system.  The payroll plus cost share is what constitutes the computed effort column, which should be the minimum amount to certify, unless less effort was truly expended, and salary transfers and/or cost share changes must be done.

Minimum 1% for PI

If the entire row for a sponsored project shows 0%, or if you have a suggested commitment but no payroll or cost share, you should certify at minimum 1% if you are the PI on the project.  That indicates that you are putting the minimum effort required to administer the award.

A few other guidelines


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