Chapter 2: Fiscal Responsibilities

2.8 Time and Effort

Accurate and timely documentation of time and effort usage is a federally mandated requirement intended to ensure appropriate use of federal funds. Non-compliance with the effort reporting regulations could result in loss of current and future funding, sanctions, fines and audit findings Therefore, The CHOP Research Institute's Time and Effort Policy (URL) defines clearly the deadlines for timely certification and outlines the sanctions for delinquency.

Effort is the proportion of time spent on any activity and is expressed as a percentage of the total activity.

  • Effort is a reasonable estimate
  • Total effort must equal 100 percent
  • Effort is NOT based on a standard 40 hour work week; it is based on the number of hours worked

Initially, time and effort is committed to a project when the grant application is submitted. Sponsors usually require that the grant budget and the budget justification specify the percent effort for each individual involved on the project. The percent of salary requested should match the percent of effort specified, except where the sponsor guidelines prohibit it. A sponsor imposed salary capitation is the most common sponsor limitation.

The percent effort proposed on the new grant application should take into account the amount of effort already committed to other activities performed in meeting responsibilities for The Children's Hospital of Philadelphia, CHOPPA or the University of Pennsylvania. This includes other existing and pending support from sponsored projects and any clinical, teaching and administrative activities. A precise assessment is not always feasible and the government recognizes this fact. Reasonable estimates are appropriate and allowable. Common effort reporting scenarios are available under the "more information" tab.

Time and effort reports are generated electronically each quarter through the Lawson Grants Management System. Reports are available for certification by someone who has first-hand knowledge of the effort performed - generally the Principal Investigator. A lab or clinical research manager may also be an appropriate person to certify effort for staff, as long as that individual has first-hand knowledge of the activities performed in the research setting. Secretaries, research business managers or other administrative staff are not appropriate certifiers and cannot perform this function for you. The electronic "signer" is certifying to the best of their knowledge that the effort distribution reflects a reasonable estimate of work performed.

Investigators have 90 days to certify effort reports for the preceding quarter. These reports serve as "primary auditable documents" evidencing salary costs on an award and validating distribution of salary. Inaccurate, incomplete or untimely effort reporting could result in freezing of award accounts and withholding of institutional signatures for grant applications. These lapses can also result in Institutional fines and penalties.

The federal government has become more active in their review of effort reporting. While we recognize that effort reporting can be a time consuming and difficult task, it is required as part of the Federal Governments regulations for proper financial stewardship of federal funds. PIs are encouraged to review the training on the institutional procedures for proposing, charging and reporting faculty effort using the Lawson Grants Management System (URL) for additional information.

Ask the Experts

Steve Wiley
Department of Research Finance

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CHOP Research Resources

  • Responsible Department: Department of Research Finance
  • The CHOP Research Institutes' Time and Effort Policy
  • Time and Effort Training Module
  • Lawson Grants Management System Training

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More Information

  • Common Time and Effort Scenarios
    • Typical Effort Situation
    • Working Less Than Budgeted
    • Effort Committed with No Salary Support
    • Salary Cap
    • Award Received that moves Committed Effort Over 100%
  • Effort Reporting FAQs

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