1. I received an effort report for an employee who only works part-time, but the report is showing 100%.
Effort will always add up to 100%. Effort reporting is not based on a standardized work week. An employee who only works 10 hours and an employee who works 60 hours a week will both have an effort report showing 100%. Remember no matter how many hours the employee worked, they spent their work time doing something.
2. I received an effort report, and even though I am a part time employee, my effort report is showing 100%, is this correct?
Yes, your effort will always add up to 100%. Remember effort reporting is not based on a standardized work week. No matter how many hours you work, you spent the entirety of that time working on something.
3. Why do we have to certify effort?
As a recipient of federal research funding, the University of Kansas is required to maintain a system by which the effort of faculty and staff is periodically certified as to the accuracy of the effort that is charged or assigned to the sponsored projects. In accordance with OMB’s 2 CFR 200 (OMB Circular A-21, Section J.10 prior to 12/26/2014), the University is required to collect certification by an authorized party to confirm the work was performed and that salaries charged to the sponsored projects are reasonable in relation to the actual work performed by the individual. The University requires that this policy be applied consistently across all sponsored projects regardless of the funding source.
Effort reporting is not optional. If you receive sponsored funds you must certify your effort.
4. Why did I receive an effort report?
If you received an effort report, at some point in time during the reporting period your salary either in part or whole was paid from sponsored funds according to HR/Pay data. If this is incorrect, please contact your effort coordinator. The effort coordinator will work with HR and KUCR to correct payroll. If you did work on a sponsored project, please verify that the effort report accurately reflects the effort expended.
5. What is the reporting period?
Reporting periods are the actual dates in which the employee worked; this is the period in which we are looking to confirm the employee’s effort.
6. How long is the certification period window?
The certification period is 60 calendar days. The certification period will typically begin immediately after the pre-review period has ended. For example, if the pre-review period is 6/19-7/2, the certification window will begin 7/3.
7. How often do I have to certify effort?
All employees (Students & Faculty/Staff) will certify twice a year. Effort reports will typically cover December – June and June – December.
8. How long does a primary effort coordinator have to review a task?
Primary effort coordinators have 5 business days to review any assigned tasks.
9. How long does a certifier have to recertify an effort report?
A certifier has 30 calendar days to recertify any effort report that has been reopened.
10. Who must certify the effort report?
PI-Must certify their own effort reports.
Faculty and Staff - Must certify their own effort reports.
Non-Hourly Student - Effort reports must be certified by the PI(s) of the project(s) on which the non-hourly student was appointed. It is crucial to remember that a report is not considered certified until all rows are certified; this includes both sponsored and non-sponsored rows of funding. For non-hourly student employees with multiple appointments, it is crucial that effort coordinators and PIs work collaboratively to certify the entirety of the student’s effort report within the certification window to avoid any potential penalties for non-compliance. These potential penalties will apply even to those who have certified their portion of the student’s report. Hourly students’ effort is certified by their timesheet, so effort certification is not necessary for them.
11. When is a report/statement considered certified?
An effort report/statement will be considered certified when all rows are marked certified; this includes both non-sponsored and sponsored rows of funding. A report/statement that is partially certified will remain open until all rows are certified; this will have implications for all of the PIs associated with said report, even if they have certified their portion of the employee’s effort report. Therefore it is crucial to work collaboratively with your effort coordinators and colleagues to certify all effort reports/statements within the certification window to avoid any potential penalties for non-compliance.
12. What is the acceptable threshold of variance?
With the conversion to an electronic effort reporting system, we have taken the opportunity to bring our threshold more in line with the standards of our peer universities; this means now that any change over 5% and $100.00 (per line) will now require a Retroactive Funding Adjustment (RFA) and/or recertification. In order to meet the threshold, the change in effort has to change a single line of funding by 5% and also be equal to at least $100 in actual payroll dollars. Therefore, if a change in effort is under 5% and $100 it will be considered within the acceptable range of variance. If an employee has a update in effort that is equal to a 20% change but its effect on payroll dollars only equates to $30.00, this would be within the acceptable threshold of variance as it has not met both necessary benchmarks (5% and $100).
13. How do I calculate a change in effort that is over the threshold?
With the conversion to an electronic effort reporting system, we have taken the opportunity to bring our threshold more in line with industry standards; this means now that any change over 5% and $100 will now require a Retroactive Funding Adjustment (RFA) and/or recertification. In order to meet the threshold, the change in effort has to change a single line of funding by 5% and also be equal to at least $100 actual payroll dollars.
ecrt calculates changes, and keeps track of accumulated changes. For example, if you submit two RFAs for an employee, even if the RFAs individually would not take the employee over the threshold, ecrt will add them together to verify whether or not they meet the threshold requirement. If a report has already been certified it will be reopened and need to be recertified by the appropriate parties.
When reviewing your effort report it is important that you make any necessary changes to ensure that it is an accurate representation of your actual effort, regardless of the threshold. ecrt will automatically make calculations at the point of certification to determine if the change in computed effort to certified effort is over the threshold. If a change in effort is above the threshold, your report will be placed in a “Certified, Not Processed” status. Your effort coordinator will be notified by ecrt that there is a task pending their review; once the effort coordinator confirms the changes in effort are in line with expectations, he/she will begin work on the RFA. At this stage, the effort cert will move to the “Certified, Approved, RFA Needed” status, the effort report will stay in this status up until the point that the RFA has been processed by HR/Pay.
14. My effort reports shows zero sponsored dollars (or 0% sponsored effort). Do I still need to certify?
Yes, you still need to certify your effort report. You received an effort report because at one point during the certification period you were funded, in part or in whole, from a sponsored project, but those payroll charges have been removed with a Retroactive Funding Adjustment (RFA). You must certify that this change in payroll and that the computed effort is an accurate representation of how you spent your time during the reporting period.
15. How do I know if my statement is certified?
Your statement is certified when all rows, both sponsored and non-sponsored, have been certified and processed. If there were no changes to the certified effort over the threshold of 5% and $100, after the report is certified in ecrt, it will have a status of “Certified, Processed.” Once your statement is in this status, your effort report is considered complete and no further action is needed.
However, if there was a change in certified effort over the threshold (5% and $100), a task will be created for the effort coordinator and the effort report will be moved into the “Certified, Not Processed” status. NO further action is needed from you in the ecrt system at this time. After your effort coordinator has reviewed the task and confirmed that the change in effort is in line with expectations, they will move the effort report into the status of “Certified, Approved, RFA Needed.” The report will stay in this status up until the point that the RFA has been processed in HR/Pay. When the RFA is processed, as long as it brings the effort report in line with certified effort (within the threshold) it will be moved automatically to the “Certified, Processed” status and will be considered complete.
You can check to see if all your effort certification tasks are completed by navigating to your Work List on your ecrt Home page under the “Statements Awaiting Certification” section:
- If you see the statement “There are no Effort statement associated to you,” you have completed your tasks.
- If there are statements listed, then you need to certify these statements to be compliant.
- If you are certifying (graduate) student effort, the report is not considered certified until all non-sponsored and sponsored lines have been certified. If a student works for multiple PIs, each PI will only have access to certify their own sponsored projects in addition to any non-sponsored row of funding the student may have. After you have certified the rows available to you the student effort report will not show in your Work List; however, this does not mean that the statement is certified. The statement will only be considered certified when all rows (sponsored and non-sponsored) have been certified).
16. What do I do if my effort report is wrong?
- Review your effort statement and compare your computed effort to the actual effort you expended towards all activities.
- If the effort report does not accurately reflect a reasonable estimate of the effort expended on a sponsored project (both paid from the project and cost shared during the reporting period), the certifier should update the certified effort in ecrt to the correct percentage and certify the report.
- If an effort report is certified with a change of effort over the threshold, it will automatically create a task for the primary effort coordinator. The primary effort coordinator will review the change to effort to ensure the change is in line with expectations. If the change in effort is confirmed, the effort coordinator will work with the appropriate parties to ensure that a Retroactive Funding Adjustment (RFA) is processed.
- The effort report will remain in a “Certified, Approved, RFA Needed” status until the RFA is processed in the HR/Pay system. Once the RFA is processed, the payroll rows will be sent to ecrt. The effort report will be move to the “Certified, Processed” status once the payroll rows are in the line with the certified effort.
17. I know there is a Retroactive Funding Adjustment (RFA) in process for this reporting period, but it has not yet been processed. Will the effort report reflect the RFA?
No. ecrt is reliant on payroll data directly from HR/Pay. Therefore until the RFA has been processed by payroll, it will not show up in ecrt. If you, as an effort coordinator, already know that there is an RFA in workflow for an employee we recommend that you update the certified effort during the pre-review period to reflect the correction being made with the RFA. This will allow the certifier to certify effort based on the correction already in process. Once the RFA is processed, the payroll data will be sent to ecrt and the effort report will be updated automatically. If the RFA is processed after the statement is certified and the payroll lines sync up (within the threshold) of the certified effort, no further action is needed by the certifier.
18. Why has my report been reopened?
The most likely scenario in which an effort report will be reopened is if a Retroactive Funding Adjustment (RFA) that has been processed in HR/Pay changes the computed effort by more than the threshold (5%, $100) after the statement has already been certified. Since the change to effort is over the threshold, the certifier(s) must recertify to verify that the change in effort is accurate and reasonable. Certifiers, have 30 calendar days from the day that a certification has been reopened to certify.
19. How long is pre-review?
Pre- review is 14 calendar days long. Pre-review will typically begin 14 calendar days after the effort reporting period. For example, if the reporting period ends 6/4, pre-review will begin 6/19.
20. How do I identify my primary effort coordinator?
To find out who your primary effort coordinator is, navigate to the upper right hand corner of the certification page and click the triangle to the left of the statement owner to open the menu. This will display the primary effort coordinators name in blue. You can email your primary effort coordinator directly from this screen by simply clicking on their name.
21. Who do I contact with questions about the effort report I received?
If you have any questions about effort report or ecrt, please contact your effort coordinator or the ecrt team at firstname.lastname@example.org
22. How do I handle terminated, transferred (from KU), or deceased employee certifications?
For those who have separated from KU, we have established a process by which a one-time proxy can be set up. This proxy must have reasonable knowledge of the work performed during the period. Note the proxy will only be given access to certify for an employee who has left the University.
23. What if the employee terminated before the end of the reporting period?
If the employee worked even one day in the reporting period, they spent that one day doing something. The effort report should accurately reflect what the employee did on that day. It is not necessary to make changes to the reporting period to reflect the actual days worked by the employee.
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