Effort Reporting FAQs
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/Payroll data. If this is incorrect, please contact your effort coordinator. The effort coordinator will work with HR and the appropriate parties to correct payroll. If you did work on a sponsored project, please verify that the effort report accurately reflects the effort expended.
Why do we have to certify effort?
As a recipient of federal research funding, the University of North Carolina 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. UNC 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. UNC requires that this policy be applied consistently across all sponsored projects regardless of the funding source.
Effort reporting is not optional. If you worked on any sponsored projects, you must certify your effort. If you did not work on any sponsored projects, you are not required to certify your effort.
Who must certify the effort report?
PI: Must certify their own effort reports.
Faculty, Staff and Students: Must certify their own effort reports.
What is the link to the effort reporting system (ecrt)?
What is the reporting period of performance (Base Effort 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.
I received an effort report, and even though I am a part time employee, my effort report is showing 100 percent, is this correct?
Effort will always add up to 100 percent. 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 percent. Remember no matter how many hours the employee worked, they spent their work time doing something.
What does the status “Building, No Action Required” mean?
This status is regarding an effort statement for a reporting period that has not ended or is not currently open for certification. You may view the statement but no action is required at the moment.
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.
How do I know if my statement is certified?
Your statement is certified when all rows, both sponsored and non-sponsored, have been certified. If there were no changes to the certified effort over the threshold of 5 percent, after the report is certified in ecrt, it will have a status of “Certified.” Once your statement is in this status, your effort report is considered complete and no further action is needed.
My effort reports shows zero sponsored dollars (or 0 percent 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 Payroll Accounting Adjustment Tool (PAAT) transaction. 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.
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 Payroll Accounting Adjustment Tool (PAAT) transaction is processed.
- The effort report will remain in a “Certified, Awaiting Cost Transfer” status until the PAAT is processed in the HR/Payroll system. Once the PAAT is processed, the payroll rows will be sent to ecrt. The effort report will be move to the “Certified” status once the payroll rows are in the line with the certified effort.
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 8/15-8/28, the certification window will begin 8/29.
What is the “escalation process”?
If an effort statement is not certified within the first 30 days of the certification period, an escalation process will commence, as follows:
- Immediately following expiration of the 30-day certification period, the effort reporting system central administrator will send a memorandum to the applicable department effort coordinator that includes a list of incomplete effort statements for certifiers assigned to the department/center/institute with a statement for the department effort coordinator to work with the certifiers to complete their effort statements in accordance with this Policy.
- If the effort statements are not confirmed within 14 days of the memorandum to the department effort coordinator, the OSR director will send a memorandum to the applicable department chair/center or institute director that includes a list of incomplete effort statements with a statement for the department chair/center or institute director to inform the department effort coordinator to work with certifiers to complete their effort statements in accordance with this policy.
- If the effort statements are not confirmed within seven calendar days of the memorandum to the department chair/center or institute director, the vice chancellor for research will send a final notice to the respective research dean or center and institute directors that includes a list of incomplete effort statements and notify him/her that if the effort statements are not certified within 7 days of the date of the memorandum, OSR will place the respective sponsored projects on hold and transfer all salary and associated fringe benefit charges from the sponsored projects included on the unprocessed effort statements to a non-sponsored account of the department/center/institute that is responsible for the certifier’s HR assignment. Costs moved may not be transferred back to the sponsored projects at a later date without the approval of the associate vice chancellor for research/director, OSR.
When will pre-review period begin and how long will it last?
The effort statement pre-review period will begin approximately 45 calendar days from the end of the effort reporting period of performance (i.e., Dec. 31 and June 30) and will last for approximately two weeks (14 calendar days).
How long does a certifier have to recertify an effort report?
A certifier has 21 calendar days to recertify any effort report that has been reopened.
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 between the Computed Effort versus the Certified Effort over +/- 5 percent (per line) will now require a Payroll Accounting Adjustment Tool (PAAT) transaction and/or recertification.
Why has my report been reopened?
The most likely scenario in which an effort report will be reopened is if a Payroll Accounting Adjustment Tool (PAAT) transaction that has been processed in HR/Payroll changes the computed effort by more than the threshold (5 percent) 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 21 calendar days from the day that a certification has been reopened to certify.
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.
I made a change to my effort report, how do I inform you of the change?
Please explain changes you make to your effort card in the notes section of the effort card. Under get help, click on the document icon and enter your explanation. Then click the save note box.
I know there is a Payroll Accounting Adjustment Tool (PAAT) transaction in process for this reporting period, but it has not yet been processed. Will the effort report reflect the PAAT?
No. Ecrt is reliant on payroll data directly from HR/Payroll. Therefore, until the PAAT has been processed by payroll, it will not show up in ecrt. If you, as an effort coordinator, already know that there is an PAAT 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 PAAT. This will allow the certifier to certify effort based on the correction already in process. Once the PAAT is processed, the payroll data will be sent to ecrt and the effort report will be updated automatically. If the PAAT 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.
How do I handle terminated, transferred (from UNC), or deceased employee certifications?
For those who have separated from UNC, 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 for one reporting period only.
The effort coordinator should notify email@example.com to set up proxy assignments.
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.
Who do I contact with questions about the effort report I received?
If you have any questions about your effort statement or ecrt, please contact your Lineberger effort coordinator or the Office of Sponsored Research ecrt team at firstname.lastname@example.org.