Effort Policies & Reporting

Effort reporting is a federal requirement, and CALS upholds campus policy in expecting all researchers who work on sponsored projects to comply with regulations regarding the proposing, charging, and reporting of effort on those projects.

What is Effort?

An effort commitment refers to the percentage or amount of time an individual allocates to a sponsored project. Effort is typically measured in person-months or percent. Effort is not based on a 40-hour work week. Instead, it is based on 100% of the activities for which you are compensated by the UW. For example, if you have a 75% appointment, those 30 hours a week are considered 100% effort.

Types of Effort Commitments

The principal investigator (PI), Co-PI, and key personnel of a sponsored project need to consider effort commitments. There are four types of effort commitements:

  1. Mandatory cost share: Cost share that is required by the sponsor as a condition for proposal submission is a mandatory cost share.
  2. Voluntary committed cost share: Any effort that appears in the proposal that is not required in the terms of the award is considered voluntary committed cost-share and must be certified. Once a proposal is funded, an effort commitments becomes an obligation that the institution must fulfill.
  3. Voluntary uncommitted cost share: Cost sharing not stated in the award documents. In most cases, voluntary uncommitted cost share comes into play when someone devotes more time to a project than stated in the proposal or award. Any extra effort does not need to be reported in ECRT. Keep in mind that if you are a PI on a project and do not offer an effort commitment somewhere in the award, you must still certify at least 1% on the award. As a PI, you must be committing effort to the project. There are a few exceptions, such as in the case of awards for graduate students. Although a faculty member must be listed as PI, mentoring students is considered a part of regular responsibilities.
  4. Paid effort: Some individuals are paid directly from an award for the time they spend working on a project. In cases like this, the paydata should load directly into ECRT for certification. It is important that those effort commitments be met, so if Professor X budgets for 30% of her salary to pay for her time spent working on a project, but only ended up paying 20% from the award, she will need to enter the other 10% as a cost share in ECRT.

Effort Policies

The WAES is unable to process proposals for individuals who have not completed training or who have uncertified effort for themselves or their research staff. WAES highly recommends reviewing the UW-Madison Policy on Effort, Commitments, and Effort Certification to further inform your knowledge of effort on sponsored projects. Other key policy points include:

  • Faculty cannot commit 100% of their effort to sponsored programs due to other department duties
  • Effort must be certified for individuals who receive salary from a sponsored project or have unpaid effort on a project
  • A PI must devote effort to a project that they manage

If you fail to certify or complete effort training, be aware of the specified consequences.

Effort on Proposals

Considering effort during proposal development is an important part of balancing commitments and being sure to allow enough time to complete responsibilities.

Effort commitments are entered in on the WISPER proposals page and load directly into ECRT. Be aware that even if an effort commitment does not appear in ECRT, if you have made the commitment then you are responsible for it. In the case of an audit, agencies compare award documents to effort cards.

Effort Reporting

Individuals who have either been paid from a sponsored project or committed to a sponsored project must certify effort commitments. Effort commitments can be found in the proposal or award documents. All faculty and staff certify their own effort. PIs must certify their own effort as well as certify for all grad students, post-docs, and non-PI classified staff.

Oftentimes research staff will work on multiple awards and be paid from more than one source.

There are several solutions to properly certifying effort, and your department effort coordinator or the CALS effort coordinator can help you determine the best way to do so.

Effort is either certified twice a year (faculty, academic staff, grad students, post docs and other) or four times a year (classified staff). Please see the RSP Effort Certification Calendar for exact dates. If you are required to certify for yourself or your research staff, you will be notified via email.

Log into ECRT and certify your effort today!

Effort Resources