Grants Management: The Do’s and Don’ts of Effort Reporting/Certification

Whether you’ve just won your first grant, or you’re getting a head start on learning about grants management, effort reporting is a crucial part of your federal agency grant award. Effort reporting is also an audit hot-spot — and if you do it wrong, you could face severe consequences.

Effort reporting — also known as effort certification — is “the mechanism used to confirm that salaries charged to each sponsored project are reasonable in relation to actual work (effort) performed,” according to the Council on Government Relations (COGR). Simply put, effort reporting is how you account for the work time you bill to a grant award.

The mandate of effort reporting/certification stems from the federal regulations contained in Office of Management and Budget (OMB) A-21. Unfortunately, the language in OMB A-21 is confusing and often difficult to understand, according to PI and consultant Michael Lesiecki, PhD, co-author of this executive report who serves on proposal review committees for the National Science Foundation (NSF), as well as the U.S. Departments of Labor and Education.

As soon as you get your award letter and set up your budget, you must have your effort reporting and certification system ready, Lesiecki says. Your institution will likely have a system in place for effort reporting, but you need to have a thorough understanding of how you can spend and allocate grant funds to salaries.

Your responsibility: As the PI, your responsibility is to ensure that the personnel paid with grant funds are using their grant-funded time to perform tasks and accomplish objectives related to the sponsored project, Lesiecki says. You also have the responsibility of certifying this in a timely manner.

Inside this 53-pg. executive report you will find expert guidance on:

  • Why Effort Reporting Is In The Crosshairs—Learn form Others’ Mistakes
  • Understanding the EFFORT lifecycle
  • What 100% Effort Really Means—What You Should and Shouldn’t Include
  • How to Account for Summer Salary
  • The Right Way to Handle Reduction in Effort
  • Pay Attention: Keys to Certifying Correctly
  • Beware of the Effort Certification Red Flags
  • How to Troubleshoot Common Effort Reporting/Certification Problems
  • And much more!

Limited-time offer until Sept. 17th: Purchase this 53-pg. Special Report in digital (PDF) format at the special rate of $129 (reg. price $199).

The informational products above are brought to you as training tools by the Principal Investigators Association, which is an independent organization. The products presented and their contents are not connected with the National Institutes of Health (NIH) or the National Science Foundation (NSF), nor are they endorsed by these agencies. All views expressed are those personally held by the author and are not official government policies or opinions.