Purpose

The purpose of this policy is to describe the Research Foundation’s effort certification process.

Background

Effort reporting is a process mandated by the federal government by which the salary charged to a sponsored project is certified as being reasonable in relation to the effort expended on that project. Effort reports constitute one of the primary auditable documents to support salary costs on a sponsored project.

Guidelines

The Research Foundation of CUNY (RF) uses the "after-the-fact activity records" method to meet OMB’s Uniform Guidance requirements of reporting faculty effort. Effort must be certified by the Principal Investigator or responsible official at the College (i.e., - Dean or Department Head) as confirmation that it represents a reasonable estimate of the percentage of effort performed by the employee during the period.

Accounting for Faculty Effort

Effort on any particular project is measured as the percentage of the total obligation to the College. This obligation includes teaching, organized research, departmental administration, committee activities, etc. While the total number of hours worked may vary from month to month, total effort for each period must be expressed as 100% on the faculty member's effort report.

Minimum Effort on Sponsored Awards

With certain exceptions (including, for example, equipment & instrumentation grants, doctoral dissertation grants, faculty mentors on institutional training grants), faculty should apply some level of effort to projects on which they are listed as the PI or as key personnel (1% or more, or the minimum required by the program).

Maximum Effort on Sponsored Awards

For faculty participating in activities not directly related to work on active sponsored awards (e.g., teaching, administrative service, grant proposal preparation), the effort assigned to federally-sponsored projects should rarely total more than 95%.

Summer Effort for Faculty with 9 Month Appointments

Faculty compensated for 9-month appointments are permitted to expend up to an additional 3 months of summer effort on a combination of service (paid by the College) and one or more sponsored programs in the period beyond the academic year and earn up to 3 months of additional salary for that effort, subject to sponsor policies and the approval of the campus Grants Office.

A request for summer salary through the RF’s Summer Salary system indicates a commitment to expend commensurate effort on the particular project during the summer term (effort expended during the academic year does not satisfy a commitment related to the receipt of summer salary). The PI or a responsible official at the College is required to certify effort for faculty who receive summer salary from a sponsored award during the summer period within a reasonable timeframe after the semester end.

Released Time

The effort distribution of each faculty member must be certified by semester. In order to generate an online effort certification statement for released time, a staff effort notice must be prepared and submitted by the Principal Investigator and Grants Office to the RF's Grants and Contracts department for approval by the PA. Afterwards it may be entered into the e-Released Time system.

Reporting Periods

Online effort certification will be available to the PI on the first business day after the semester ends. After-the-fact certification should be performed by the Principal Investigator or Responsible Official at the College (i.e., - Dean or Department Chair) within a reasonable timeframe after the end of the semester. Only PIs have the ability to certify online. In the PIs absence, a paper PAR may be signed by the Responsible Official at the College and returned to the RF.

The "after-the-fact" activity records will be generated three times a year using consistent periods for all campuses. The spring period will include all activity from 01/16/XX - 5/31/XX, summer will include 6/01/XX - 8/31/XX, and fall will include 09/01/XX - 1/15/XX. Failure to certify effort within a reasonable time period may result in the freezing of the College's 9th Ledger Released Time Recovery account.

OMB Uniform Guidance Effort Reporting Categories

Sponsored projects administered through the RF represent all research and other sponsored activities that are awarded by federal and non-federal agencies and organizations, separately budgeted and accounted for, and paid for by the sponsor through the released time and/or summer salary systems.