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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: April 11, 2016


Faculty members are required to Certify Effort recorded on their own Personnel Activity Report (PAR) forms. 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 or project manager/director, using a suitable means of verification that the work was performed, may Certify the project staff member’s PAR form 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 form 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 Total University Effort to payroll variance to warrant an adjustment to the payroll system.

Timely Completion

PAR forms 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 and return PAR forms 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 PAR forms are properly completed and certified.

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.