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Procedures for Documenting Effort on Sponsored Projects

Procedures for Documenting Effort on Sponsored Projects

These procedures support the policy on Effort Reporting (II.C.1). Please refer to the policy for definitions and contact information.

Effective date: May 1, 2018


Faculty members are required to Certify Effort recorded on their own Personnel Activity Report (PAR) in the SEEMLESS application. Principal Investigators (PIs) are not to Certify Effort for other faculty working on their projects.

It is recommended that a PI Certify Effort of the project staff and/or students working on his or her Sponsored Projects. At the PI’s designation, a laboratory, project manager/director or supervisor, using a suitable means of verification that the work was performed, may Certify the project staff member’s PAR in the SEEMLESS application to assure that the changes are accurate, allowable and properly allocated.

A department research administrator or business manager may not Certify Effort of project staff unless he or she has written after-the-fact confirmation from an individual having direct knowledge of the individual’s Effort.

Knowingly certifying an inaccurate PAR is a serious violation and may result in disciplinary action.


Effort reporting provides a reasonable assurance that the charges are accurate, allowable, and properly allocated and reasonably reflect the total activity for which the employee is compensated. The Effort reporting system will utilize a +/-5 percent standard of Effort to payroll variance to warrant an adjustment to the payroll system.

Timely Completion

PARs must be completed within 30 calendar days from the day that they become available.

Retroactive Payroll or Salary Changes

Salary charges may be made initially to Sponsored Project accounts on the basis of estimates of Effort made before services are performed. When such estimates are used, significant changes in the corresponding work activity must be identified and entered into the payroll distribution system. If a payroll allocation to a Sponsored Project during an Effort Reporting Period exceeds the percentage of Total University Effort certified on the project at the end of the period, the payroll allocation must be reduced to reflect the level of the effort actually expended based on the PAR form.

Charges for work performed on Sponsored Projects by faculty and staff members during the year will be based on the individual faculty and staff member’s regular compensation for the continuous period.

Consequences for Violations

Failure to properly certify as required by these procedures may result in salary costs being charged to a departmental account, rather than to the Sponsored Project. 

Sponsored Program Services may exclude non-compliant PIs from new Sponsored Project proposals until the PI’s PARs are properly completed and certified in the SEEMLESS application.

History and Updates

April 11, 2016: In accordance with current policy template, these procedures were separated from the policy on Effort Reporting (II.C.1). The section concerning precision was added.

May 23, 2019: The document was updated to reflect that the University moved to an electronic Effort Reporting system known as SEEMLESS.