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Effort Reporting

Effort Certification is the reporting and confirmation of an employee’s time spent conducting any university activity. It is expressed as a percentage of the total institutional based salary (IBS). The university uses MAXIMUS, a third-party, online Effort Certification System located in Training documents related to Effort and the Effort Certification System are available here.

As a recipient of Federal research funding, the university is required to demonstrate that the payment of salary and wages from sponsored project funds accurately reflect the work performed. Internal controls are in place to assure that compensation for personnel services are accurate, allowable, and properly allocated to federal and non-federal sponsored activities. MAXIMUS is one such control, put in place to verify effort on sponsored projects against the university’s financial system payroll.

The chart below outlines the steps, the responsible office or person, and the estimated time for completion.

Steps Responsible Office or Person Timing
Initiate the Quarterly Effort Report Office of Contracts and Grants 90 days after the last month of the quarter
Review of Effort Report and release email notification

Department Business Managers (DBA)

30 days to review
Receive email notification that effort forms are ready for review and certification Principal Investigator (PI) Within the 30 day review period
Log into AccessUH to begin review and certification Principal Investigator (PI) Within the 30 day review period after notification
Certify Effort Report (if correct) Principal Investigator (PI) Within the 30 day review period after notification
Add notes to incorrect reports and send email notification DBA and OCG for correction Principal Investigator (PI) Within the 30 day review period after notification
Correction to effort reports via payroll reallocation, feeds the correction into Maximus Office of Contracts and Grants

Department Business Manager
May take up to 3 weeks to process

A new Effort form is generated for certification in MAXIMUS system

Principal Investigator (PI) 30 days after payroll correction at the close of the period

Frequency of Certification

Each quarter, effort reports are generated for all Principal Investigators, whether or not they are paid from sponsored project funds. For all other employees, effort reports are generated only if they are paid from a sponsored project. Principal Investigators must sign their own effort reports, as well as certify those of the individuals paid or contributing efforts on their grants.

Quarter Reporting Period
1 September 1st - November 30th
2 December 1st - February 28th
3 March 1st - May 31st
4 June 1st - August 31st

Key Concepts of Effort Reporting

  • Institutional Base Salary (IBS) - the Federal Uniform Guidance (2 CFR Part 200) defines IBS as “the annual compensation paid by the University for an individual's appointment, whether that individual's time is spent on research, instruction, administration, or other activities.” IBS excludes any income that an individual earns outside of duties performed for the university. Unless there is prior approval by the Federal awarding agency, charges of a faculty member's salary to a Federal award must not exceed the proportionate share of the IBS for the period during which the faculty member worked on the award.” More Information about IBS can be found here.
  • The Salary Cap by Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) is defined as the maximum annual rate of salary for full-time effort that can be charged to an award. Effective January 7, 2018 the Executive Level II (EL II) DHHS salary cap is $189,600 annually, an increase of $2,600 from the previous cap of $187,000. When calculating the cap for the quarter 2 reporting period, the previous maximum will be applied for 12/1/2018 – 1/6/2018; the new maximum will apply to salaries from 1/8/2018 – 2/29/2019.

    To determine the salary cap threshold applicable to an individual grant, refer to the ‘Issue Date’ of the latest Notice of Award (NOA). Sponsors that currently utilize the DHHS salary caps or other caps are listed in the table below:
Sponsor - Federal Cap Applied
National Institutes of Health DHHS Salary Cap
Administration for Children and Families DHHS Salary Cap
Administration for Community Living* DHHS Salary Cap
Agency for Health Care Research and Quality DHHS Salary Cap
Center for Disease Control DHHS Salary Cap
Health Resources and Services Administration DHHS Salary Cap
Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services
DHHS Salary Cap
Food and Drug Administration* DHHS Salary Cap
Sponsor - Non-Federal Cap Applied
CPRIT CPRIT salary cap
  • Cost Sharing and Matching represent that portion of the project costs not paid for by the sponsor’s funds. When no portion of the salary paid to an employee contributing cost shared effort to an award is paid from grant funds, an effort report will NOT be generated and available for the PI to certify. The PI must provide OCG with the name and employee ID of any individual to which this scenario applies, so that they can be added for effort certification. When the individual is named at the proposal stage, OCG will include this information in the award setup.