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Office of Research & Sponsored Programs

policy procedure

Sponsored Programs Policies

Certification of Effort

Standard Operating Procedures


To document effort in direct support of sponsored programs or cost-share towards sponsored programs.


a)      Cost-sharing: The portion of project or program costs that are not borne by the sponsor.

b)     Effort: The percentage of time that is expended in fulfilling one’s obligations to the University. The total must equal 100%, no matter how many hours are worked.

c)      Mandatory cost-sharing: Costs that have been committed by the University towards the support of a program or project. This may be a requirement of the sponsor to be eligible for the award, or it may be voluntarily proposed by the PI/University and accepted by the sponsor as a condition of the award.

d)     Office of Management and Budget (OMB): The federal office that assists the President in overseeing the preparation of the federal budget. The OMB supervises the administration of the budget in Executive Branch agencies by promulgating rules and regulations through the issuance of circulars.

e)      OMB Uniform Guidance: The circular that sets forth the principles for determining costs applicable to grants, contracts, and other agreements with educational institutions.

f)       Principal Investigator: The DU employee (usually a faculty member) who is responsible for the proper conduct of research or other activity described in a proposal, grant, contract or other agreement. Used interchangeably with Program Director.

g)      Responsible Person/Official: Person who has sufficient and verifiable knowledge (direct knowledge) of the work being performed, including an understanding of the individual’s regular duties and responsibilities.

h)     Sponsored Programs: Programs or projects that are funded by an external entity through an award (grant, contract, etc.) to the University. Sponsored programs include research, instruction, and other sponsored activities.

i)       Suitable Mean of Verification: Written documentation that is sufficient to confirm or support the effort expended by an individual on a sponsored program. Examples include (but not limited to): teaching schedules, leave reports, calendars and correspondence, award work products. Oral verification from a faculty member to an administrator is not suitable means of verification.


The Office of Management and Budget requires that each grant recipient document time expended towards a sponsored program. Recognizing the unique nature of universities and in the absence of timecards, OMB requires documentation and certification of percent of effort, totaling 100%, in support of one’s total commitment to the university. In order to meet this requirement for documentation and certification, each individual paid on a monthly basis and who has some commitment towards a sponsored program, shall certify their effort based on the distribution of total compensation paid to the individual during that month.

OMB Uniform Guidance requires that an individual’s effort must be certified by a responsible person with suitable means of verifying that the work was performed. Each faculty member, academic staff member, and PI is responsible for certifying his/her own effort. PI’s can certify for graduate students, postdocs, and non-PI classified staff in their absence. Exceptions are allowed for practical purposes if an individual other than the PI has more suitable means of verification of the work performed.

  1. An effort certification report shall be generated on payroll accounting distributions for each employee:
    1. Who is paid monthly, AND

                                                               i.      Has been paid from a sponsored program fund sometime during the fiscal year, OR

                                                             ii.      Has cost-shared effort towards a sponsored program (as indicated through an Activity Code), OR

                                                           iii.      Has an employee class code related to research.

  1. Reports for faculty shall be generated on a quarterly basis (January – March, April – June, July – September, and October – December).
  2. Reports for all other employees shall be generated on a monthly basis.
  3. Effort Certification training is required for all monthly employees that charge to grants or contracts. This training is available on-line and instructions are below. This training is valid until any major policy or procedural change.
  4. Electronic Effort Certification reports are distributed to the employees through the Banner system.
  5. Employees shall review the accuracy of distribution of effort. If correct, the report is certified by submitting the report electronically in the system. By submitting the report the employee attests that: “I hereby certify that the distribution of effort as reported represents a close estimation of the actual effort expended for each function/activity” .
  6. If an adjustment is required (greater than 5%) the report is not certified in the system and the employee will initiate a labor redistribution through payroll. Once the distribution is processed in Banner, a new certification report will be generated for certification.
  7. Reports shall be reviewed and certified through the Banner system promptly.
  8. ORSP will review the Banner system for submitted certifications for each period.
  9. If reports are not certified in the Banner system within 30 days of the report being generated, the payroll expense will be deemed unallowable and charged back to the employee’s departmental operating budget.
  10. Principal Investigators can certify for graduate students, postdocs, and non-PI classified staff in their absence if they have suitable means of verification that the work was performed. PI’s will certify a hard copy report that will be submitted to Payroll for certification in the Banner system.
Roles And Responsibilities

a)      Employee is responsible for submitting payroll documents that reflect actual distribution of effort as accurately as possible, reviewing the effort distribution report, and certifying to its accuracy.

b)     Supervisor / Principal Investigator is responsible for verifying the effort expended on behalf of the sponsored programs which are under his/her programmatic authority.

c)      Office of Research and Sponsored Programs (ORSP) is responsible for ensuring that all required effort certification reports are generated and certified appropriately. ORSP will follow up on all uncertified reports and initiate appropriate payroll adjustments for uncertified or incorrect reports

Instructions for Certifying Electronic Effort Reports

Click here for instructions on accessing and certifying electronic effort reports through PioneerWeb.