Research and Sponsored Projects Manual (RSP)

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Effective: 2/26/1979

Revised: 8/17/2016

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RSP 502–03: Certification of Sponsored Project Effort

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To outline the process for certification of effort for university employees paid from, or with cost sharing committed to, sponsored projects

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United States Office of Management and Budget Memoranda 01-06, Clarification of OMB A-21 Treatment of Voluntary Uncommitted Cost Sharing and Tuition Remission Costs (January 5, 2001)
Office for Research and Sponsored Projects Administration (ORSPA)

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Effort reporting is the process of verifying that the actual effort performed on a sponsored project during an effort-reporting period meets or exceeds the combination of compensated effort and stated cost sharing commitments to sponsored projects.

Employees compensated from sponsored projects or having a cost sharing commitment to sponsored projects must certify 100 percent of their effort each effort-reporting period. Effort to be certified comprises an employee’s institutional base salary activities, regardless of the number of hours worked. Incidental work that is in excess of institutional base-salary activities (e.g., supplemental pay, intra-institution of higher education (IHE) consulting) and non-effort-related compensation (e.g., bonus pay, allowances) is not included in the effort to be certified.

Effort Commitment and Certification

Certification, per federal regulation, must be performed by an individual with suitable means of verification. Faculty, academic professionals, faculty associates, postdoctoral appointments, university staff, and classified staff certify their own effort. Effort reports for graduate assistants/associates are certified by the principal investigator (PI). Occasionally, when the employee or PI is unable to certify the effort report, another individual with suitable means of verifying the employee’s effort may certify the effort report. It is the responsibility of the certifiers to adjust percentages in the effort report if they do not adequately reflect actual effort. Adjustments of 5 percent or greater must be made when certifying the effort report.

Minimum Effort Requirements

Sponsoring agencies expect some measure of PI effort on a sponsored project to demonstrate leadership of the project. ASU does not typically propose cost sharing effort on a voluntary basis, consistent with its objectives of receiving fair compensation from sponsors for research and scholarly activity conducted at the university. The specific amount of effort necessary to meet the technical objectives and outcomes of the project is determined by the PI. Minimum effort requirements do not apply to some types of programs such as equipment and instrumentation or construction awards, dissertation or training grants, or other awards intended as “student augmentation,” or to limited purpose awards such as travel grants or conference support.

Sponsor-Imposed Salary Caps

Certain sponsors impose a limit (or cap) on the annual rate of salary reimbursement for a given amount of effort. The difference between the reimbursed salary (the capped amount) and the unreimbursed salary (the amount above the cap) must be funded by an unrestricted/local account. The PI/other key personnel must still devote the agreed upon level of effort irrespective of the salary cap.

Effort reporting periods will coincide with academic terms for all employees (fall, spring, summer).

Specific Agency Requirements

As a general policy, the salary compensation for senior personnel from all NSF-funded grants is limited to no more than two months of their regular salary in any one year. Some exceptions may apply. If other agencies have similar limitations, those must be adhered to as well; please refer to specific agency policies.

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For authoritative references, see RSP 101, “General Research Policy.”

For further information on effort reports, see the Academic Affairs Policies and Procedures Manual—ACD 303, “Effort Reports.”

For further information, see:

  1. RSP 502–01, “Personnel Employed on Sponsored Projects”


  2. RSP 506–03, “Cost Sharing Documentation for Sponsored Projects.”

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