C.E.S.P. 3-41: University of Arkansas Cooperative Extension Service
Sponsored Programs Effort Certification
Summary: Effort certification is a process in which employees of sponsored projects certify that their time was spent in conformance with commitments made to a project; this is required by Office of Management and Budget (OMB) Circular A-21. As a recipient of federal funds, the Circular requires that UACES has a system in place for certifying salaries and wages associated with federally sponsored agreements. In most cases, the certification corresponds to the salary charged to the project. In other cases, it reflects the Institutional-funded commitment to the project generally referred to as matching.
UACES will maintain an effort reporting system and obtain effort certification from employees in compliance with federal regulation.
Salary Basis for Certification
For faculty and staff, the institutional base salary for effort certification purposes is their annual base salary. This excludes all bonuses, faculty incentives and extra compensation payments.
Responsibility for Certification
All employees receiving any portion of their pay from federal funding are required to participate in the effort certification process. Full-time employees should certify their own effort whenever possible. If a situation arises which prevents a full-time employee from certifying, such as long-term absence or termination of employment, the principal investigator may certify on the employee’s behalf. Department heads and supervisors may also be alternate certifiers for part-time, temporary and terminated employees.
It is important to note that certification on behalf of another individual should only occur if the alternate certifier has suitable means to verify that the effort is reflected correctly on the effort certification; in other words, the alternate certifier should have first-hand knowledge of the work performed. It is assumed that the principal investigator will have this knowledge due to the responsibility for project oversight. In no circumstances should an individual certify for another without knowledge of actual effort provided to the project.
Effort Certification Process
Effort certification reports for full and part-time employees will be prepared semi-annually (Fall and Spring) and distributed by OSP via email. The Fall reports will include the (July – December) reporting period and Spring will cover (January – June). The Office of Sponsored Programs will retrieve payroll records from the banner human resources module and create effort reports utilizing banner access. Fall reports will be distributed no later than February 28th and must be certified and returned within three weeks. Spring reports will be distributed no later than August 15th and must be certified and returned within three weeks.
When certification reports are made available, a file listing each employee receiving an effort report for that reporting period and their percentage of effort by fund will be emailed to the responsible Executive Team member. Two weeks after the certification reports are available, notifications will be emailed to those employee’s with outstanding reports and their department head will be copied. Executive Team members and department heads will be notified of any Effort Certification Reports not returned by the due date. Notifications will continue to go out twice monthly until all reports are certified and returned.
Payroll Adjustments and Labor Redistributions after the Effort Report is made available
In the instance the effort report does not accurately reflect the work performed during the reporting period covered, a variance of 5% or less is acceptable. If the variance is larger, the certifier should update the percentages on the report to reflect the correct allocations based on actual work performed. In cases where the effort report is updated by the certifier, in addition to returning the signed report to Sponsored programs, the updated report should be scanned and emailed to the employee’s department head requesting the salary reallocation. Sponsored Programs should be copied on the email. In most cases a new eHire will need to be submitted by the department head. If a payroll adjustment is warranted, OSP will initiate the adjustment form and send to the department head for approval. Effort reports that have been manually updated by the certifier will not be re-issued after redistribution or adjustment is completed. The manually updated form is maintained in Sponsored Programs with copies of the revised eHire or payroll adjustment form attached.
Once the effort certification report has been certified and returned to Sponsored Programs, redistributions and payroll adjustments are not allowed unless the certifier noted changes on the report. The reporting period is considered closed, once the effort reporting due date has lapsed.
Failure to Certify Timely
Failure to comply with the effort certification policy could jeopardize federal funding received by the university. It is imperative that every effort is made to return completed effort certifications by the due date. Failure to comply with this policy by responsible parties may lead to administrative or disciplinary action up to and including termination.