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 shown in ECRT is a suggestion or guide, nothing more. The overall award commitment is divided among the effort periods and displayed in the committed effort column. With the exception of NIH awards, 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. NIH is somewhat more restrictive, award commitments must be met each award budget year. That means the numbers displayed in ECRT's 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, or, in the case of NIH, the budget year. Only you know your plan to fulfill the commitment within the award parameters, which will always include two or more effort periods.
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, in which case, salary transfers and/or cost share changes must be done to match the actual effort expended.
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
- The amount you certify should be the minimum required amount for a given project, but it doesn’t indicate that you didn’t put more effort into the project that period. A certification indicates that you put in at least that much effort. Further effort on the project may have been expended, but it can remain undefined in the non-sponsored category as long as you have met the minimum requirement with your certification.
- You are allowed to put in more effort on a project than what you committed so long as the scope does not change.
- Commitments can be changed. A reduction of less than 25% of your commitment (e.g. less than 10% on a 40% commitment) on a project can be submitted internally to the UW’s commitment tracker without prior approval from a sponsor. A reduction of over 25% of the commitment can be done with sponsor approval.