Effort Cert FAQ

Time is calculated in terms of hours dedicated to each activity, whereas effort is a percentage of total activities regardless of the number of hours worked.

Suppose you work 40 hours one week split four ways among the following activities: instruction (15 hr), research (10 hr), service (5 hr), and administration (10 hr).
Now, suppose you work 60 hours in the next week where the distribution of time on those activities varies as such: instruction (15 hr), research (15 hr), service (10 hr), and administration (20 hr).

For each of the periods of time above, your time spent on research varies (10 hours vs. 15 hours) and the total hours worked varies (40 hrs vs. 60 hrs); however, when you consider the percentage dedicated to the activity of research (effort) in terms of all activities, the values are the same (25% effort).

There are three reasons why you would receive an effort report to certify:

  1. You are a Stockton employee being paid directly from a federally funded project.
  2. You are an employee who is paid through an institutional cost sharing account for an award. For employees who are cost sharing, the effort certification process provides the needed documentation that the institution has met its cost share obligation.
  3. You are a Stockton employee being paid directly from a non-federally funded (state or private funded) project.

Fund number 110005 is the University Operating Unrestricted account, which is the general fund that pays for Stockton employee salaries. This fund tracks all of your effort that is NOT related to a sponsored program activity—instruction (teaching), service, administrative duties, and the like.

Here is an example to demonstrate: You are a full time employee and 10% of your effort is dedicated to a sponsored project, which is also being compensated by the sponsor. Since the sponsor is paying for your effort commitment, that 10% constitutes the portion of your salary not borne by the institution. In this example, your effort report would indicate the 10% to the specific sponsored project number to which you are assigned, and 90% to the University Operating Unrestricted account 110005.

It is possible that the project and award number on the effort report may not be familiar to you or that an abbreviated title or short name of the project might appear on the effort report. Therefore, the fact that you might not recognize the information on the effort report may not necessarily mean that you did not provide services to the project. Call the Office of Research and Sponsored Programs at 609-652-4844, and someone in the ORSP will be glad to clarify any information that appears on the effort report form.

Federal regulations require that you certify the actual effort provided to the project, not the estimated percentage that was determined at the time the proposal was submitted. The University uses the information on the certified effort report as supporting documentation for bills to the sponsors, to account for institutional cost sharing provided by University employees, and to verify that employees are allocated to the correct awards. Certifying effort at a higher percent than what you actually provided to the project can result in overcharging the federal government, which if found in an audit, could result in penalties.

Therefore, in instances where you feel that the effort is overstated (or understated for that matter), simply request a change of the percent of effort indicated and put a more reasonable amount in its place. The guide to online effort reporting can assist you with instructions on how to request a change.

Note: At times, the Office of Research and Sponsored Programs will not be able to charge more salary to your specific sponsored project even if you dedicated more effort, due to budget constraints. In these cases, the remaining salary associated with your effort on that project will be borne by the University and a cost-share account will be established to track this effort separately.

The Office of Research and Sponsored Programs oversees the effort certification process. If you have questions or concerns related to your effort report specifically, or the effort report process in general, you can contact the ORSP at 609.652.4844 or grants@stockton.edu.