Effort Reporting Best Practices

There are several things you can do to ensure that your effort reporting process is effective, efficient, and accurate.

Establish and maintain good communication and clear roles

Good communication is essential between Effort Reporting Coordinator and Certifiers:

  • ERS Coordinator should clarify which employees cannot certify their own reports and who has first-hand knowledge to certify for them. PIs should certify their own report and the reports of anyone who worked for them who is not a faculty or designated self-certifier. PIs should not certify for other faculty, even line-item certification.
  • ERS Coordinator follows up with certifiers on open reports to make sure they are certified within 120 days of the end of the reporting period.
  • ERS Coordinator works with department to ensure that employees leaving the university have their effort properly recorded, if applicable.

Research Administrators and PIs should communicate regularly and clarify who will perform each task indicated below: 

  • Verify/correct effort on report.
  • Verify/correct cost sharing on report.
  • If effort is changed, process a payroll adjustment in the payroll system (UCPath).
  • If cost sharing is added or changed, correct the Effort Commitment System and/or Cost Share Tracking System.
  • Certify the report within 120 days of the end of the reporting period (must be done by someone with first-hand knowledge of the work performed).
  • Match effort certified to effort commitments.

Department Research Administrators and department Payroll personnel should communicate regularly and correct out of balance situations between payroll records and certified effort within 120 days of the end of the reporting period.

Good communication between departments can ensure that effort reporting is complete and accurate.

  • Department responsible for award should make entries in the Cost Share Tracking System and notify other departments if the award involves effort for their PIs.
  • Department responsible for award should turn on multiple certification as needed.
  • For an employee without first-hand knowledge who works on multiple projects for different PIs, discuss with other PIs/departments what the employee's total effort really was.

Avoid payroll transfers by indicating correct percentages the first time.

  • Certify the report without making corrections if the effort shown is within +/- 5% of the actual effort expended.
  • Cuts in funding do not automatically reduce effort commitments. Reduction of effort commitments must be negotiated with the sponsor, or else the original effort commitment must be met with cost sharing.
  • Keep the Cost Share Tracking System current.
  • Periodically compare the effort commitments to the payroll system (UCPath) distribution percentages.

Make payroll changes in UCPath after making adjustments on an effort report.

If changes have been made to the Paid Effort % to Certify column on the effort report, be sure to make the necessary payroll cost transfers as soon as possible after certifying the effort report. ERS will verify that the payroll and effort are in sync after the adjustments.

Certify cost shared transactions appropriately.

  • Certify all committed cost sharing, whether voluntary or involuntary.
  • Do not certify uncommitted cost sharing. It should not appear on any effort reports.
  • If appropriate, add cost sharing percentage to the Cost Share Effort % to Certify field on the effort report before certification. Make sure it is then updated in the Cost Share Tracking System.

Use the Effort Reporting System as effectively as possible.

  • Subscribe to the lists of the PIs you assist. This will show you what they see when they log in.
  • Use custom saved searches to reduce workload:
    • Build a saved search for your department that mirrors the data in the ERS status report.
    • When creating a saved search by using the People tab and a home department code, the current employee information is saved. If a new employee joins the department, their information is not automatically added to the saved search.
    • When creating a saved search by using the Department tab and a home department code, the department is saved in the list. The effort reports for any employees in the department will be included. If a new employee joins the department, the employee's information will be included since the department information was saved.
  • Communicate electronically with other individuals who need ERS information:
    • Use the built-in e-mail functionality to e-mail effort reports to other staff.
    • Share a saved search with another ERS user who may benefit.
  • Become familiar with the various ERS report status codes in order to ensure that the appropriate action is taken.

Maintain a proper separation of duties

There are different roles and permissions in ERS to ensure that there is a proper separation of duties. Work with your campus ERS Security Administrator (CGA-Compliance@ucdavis.edu) to ensure that a proper separation of duties exist for your organization.