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Effort Reporting

What is effort reporting?

Effort reporting is the process of certifying that salaries and wages charged to sponsored project accounts are reasonable in relation to the actual work performed.  It assures a sponsor that 1) the sponsor only paid for the amount of effort that directly benefited the project and 2) the employee met his or her effort commitment to the project.  Effort reporting is also the method for recording and certifying personnel expenses that are being used to meet a match/cost share requirement.

When an effort report is first generated, it is only a report of payroll distribution based on planned activity. It must be reviewed to see if pay distribution was a reasonable reflection of the work that was actually done. If actual activity differed more than 5% from planned activity, the department must initiate a payroll cost transfer to move expenses to the correct accounts. Only then will payroll distribution match actual effort and the report can be certified. Effort reports should not be certified until they are correct.

The University of Nevada, Reno utilizes a web-based program, Effort Reporting System (ERS), to review and certify effort. Each department is assigned an effort reporting pre-reviewer. In ERS, the pre-reviewer does an initial check of each effort report assigned to her/him for accuracy, to initiate cost transfers if necessary, and to add cost share if applicable.  See below for more information about payroll cost transfers and cost sharing.

Once an effort report pre-review has been completed, ERS sends an email notification to the certifier to review the report for accuracy. When the effort report is correct, the certifier then completes the certification process. The certifier is ultimately responsible for the accuracy of the effort report. Thus, only employees, or supervisors/PIs with first-hand knowledge of how an employee spent his/her time should certify an effort report.

All employees who charge any part their salaries or wages to a sponsored project, or who have committed cost shared effort to a sponsored project, must certify their effort through effort reporting. The only exception is hourly employees who complete timesheets. However, if a payroll expense for an hourly employee's effort is later cost transferred to a sponsored account, that employee must then certify that effort using a paper effort report. Please see below for more information about paper effort reports.

Payroll cost transfers and effort reporting.

The Effort Reporting System pulls data from payroll records to create effort reports. Effort reports show salaries and wages directly charged to accounts, as well as those cost transferred prior to the generation of the effort report. Payroll cost transfers involving sponsored projects are usually initiated by submitting a PR-45 form to the Office of Sponsored Projects. If submitted at least two weeks before effort reports are generated, the cost transfer is likely to post in payroll and be included in the effort report.

If the need for a payroll cost transfer is identified less than two weeks prior to effort report generation, or after an effort report has been generated, the cost transfer should not be initiated by a PR-45 form. Instead, the effort report pre-reviewer should initiate the cost transfer in ERS. Once the information for the payroll cost transfer has been entered into ERS, the pre-reviewer must print the Cost Transfer Defined page, gather signatures, then send it to the Office of Sponsored Projects either at ospadmin@unr.edu or to Ross Hall 204/MS 325.

If the original expense posted more than 90 days prior to the cost transfer, or if the sponsored account involved will close within the next 45 days (or has already closed), a Cost Transfer Justification (OSP-6 form) must also be submitted before the Office of Sponsored projects will approve the cost transfer. Please submit the PR-45 (or page from ERS) and the OSP-6 together.

Click here for detailed instructions for pre-reviewers, including how to initiate cost transfers through ERS.

Reporting personnel expenses used as cost share/match.

When personnel expenses are used to meet a cost share/match requirement, they must be recorded and certified in the Effort Reporting System.  Pre-reviewers should add the cost shared effort either as a percentage of the employee's total effort or as a dollar amount. Include the account(s) effort is being cost shared to, as well as the account(s) the effort is being cost shared from. Cost sharing does not move the expense from one account to another, it only shows the value of the effort that was paid from one account for work done on a sponsored project.

Effort reports are automatically generated for employees who have charged part or all of their salaries or wages to a sponsored account. Some employees only expense effort to non-sponsored accounts, in which case an effort report will not be generated unless the department requests one. The pre-reviewer will need to manually add the cost share account number to the effort report.  To report cost shared effort for an employee who does not have an effort report, contact Michele Dondanville at mdondanville@unr.edu or 775-784-6360 to request that an effort report be generated.

Click here for detailed instructions for pre-reviewers, including how to add cost share to an effort report in ERS.

Early cost share reporting

When a sponsored project with a cost share/match commitment closes prior to a regular effort reporting period, the department may need to report the cost shared effort early in order to close out the project. To do this, report the cost shared effort on a Early Cost Share Effort Report form and submit it to the Office of Sponsored Projects either at ospadmin@unr.edu or to Ross Hall 204/MS 325.

Be sure to include the account number(s) the effort is being cost shared to, as well as the account number(s) the effort is being cost shared from. Include the dollar amount of the cost shared effort.

Important: the cost shared effort must also be reported in the Effort Reporting System when effort reports are generated. Including the dollar value of the cost share on the Early Cost Share Effort Report helps ensure that the same amount of cost share will be recorded in ERS.

Click here to access the Early Cost Share Effort Report form.

Paper Effort Reports

There may be circumstances when ERS cannot be used for effort reporting. For example, if an employee is paid from multiple earnings codes at different rates, payment is made after an effort report is generated, or personnel expenses for an hourly employee are cost transferred to a sponsored account. When ERS cannot generate an accurate effort report, a Paper Effort Report can be used.  Include all accounts from which the employee was paid during the reporting period and ask the employee to estimate and certify the percentage of effort spent on each sponsored account. Paper Effort Reports should be submitted to the Office of Sponsored Projects either at ospadmin@unr.edu or to Ross Hall 204/MS 325.

Click here to access the Paper Effort Report form.

Who can certify an effort report?

The default certifier for effort reports is the employee. There may be circumstances when the employee is not available to certify effort, or may not know which projects s/he was working on. A person other than the employee may certify an effort report if s/he has first-hand knowledge of the employee's effort during the reporting period. The certifier may be the Principal Investigator of the project or the employee's supervisor.

Click here for detailed instructions on certifying effort in ERS.

Effort reports have deadlines

Effort reports are considered late if they are not certified within 28 days of generation. The Effort Reporting System will send late notifications to pre-reviewers, certifiers and department coordinators. An effort report becomes delinquent if not certified within 14 days following the late date. Project accounts with delinquent effort reports may be put on administrative hold until the effort reports are certified.

Can an effort report be changed after it is certified?

Effort reports are considered final once they have been certified. Therefore, they should not be certified until they are correct. If unusual circumstances require an effort report to be changed after certification, please contact Michele Dondanville at mdondanville@unr.edu or 775-784-6360. 

What if an effort report cannot be certified before the deadline?

There may be times when an effort report cannot be certified before the 28-day deadline. This can happen if a department is waiting for an account to be set up before it can initiate a cost transfer to make the effort report accurate, a certifier is on leave, or other situations. To avoid penalties for a late effort report, please contact Michele Dondanville at mdondanville@unr.edu or 775-784-6360 to explain the situation.

For more information:

The Office of Sponsored Projects offers monthly effort reporting training sessions as well as individual trainings.
If you have questions about effort reporting or would like to register for a training, please contact:
Michele Dondanville
Research Compliance Program Manager
(775) 784-6360
mdondanville@unr.edu

Please use the links below to get more information on effort reporting (including a video tutorial series), using the Effort Reporting System, important dates, and detailed instructions using screen shots from ERS.

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