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Effort Reporting and Compliance

Dec 18th, 2007 -- research

What is the issue?

Salaries, wages, and employee benefit costs make up the majority of expenses for sponsored activities. It is critical that institutions are able to document these costs much the same way they are able to demonstrate equipment purchases or travel expenses. In the past few years, federal audits have found a significant number of universities are out of compliance with federal expectations and requirements.  Large research institutions are having to pay back costs in excess of 1 million dollars in settlements that stem from inappropriate or undocumented charges to federal awards. As a result, effort reporting and allocation of commitment have become a major focus for federal auditors and research administrators.

What is RIT doing?

RIT's research portfolio and grant funding have continued to grow year after year and that growth process has necessitated the continued review of formalized policies and procedures for research activities.  Each research policy and procedure must balance the needs of the university to comply with laws and regulations, and the needs of RIT's faculty and staff to conduct scholarship in the way they see best. RIT has procedures that require Principal Investigators to certify quarterly that that the actual level of activity provided by those working on their projects is in line with the costs charged to the project. PIs are expected to sign Quarterly Monitored Workload Reports (QMWR) certifying the effort for required individuals working on their sponsored projects.

What do PIs Need to Know?

  • Faculty effort is not based on a 40 hour work week. 100% effort encompasses all activities related to being a faculty member at RIT
  • Other possible activities that could/should be included in your effort planning along with research
    • Proposal Writing
    • Teaching
    • Committee Work
    • Student Advising
  • PIs need to actively monitor and react to changes in scope and level of commitment on sponsored projects
  • Documented level of effort should be reasonable to within 5%
  • Quarterly certifications should be a confirmation of the level of effort represented, not of the budgeted amount
  • RIT will be closely examining anyone that is being charged close to 100% effort on projects during the academic year or summer months 
  • Know who is being charged to your sponsored projects (faculty, staff, students) and are they allowable
  • Attend training conducted by Sponsored Research Services (SRS) and Sponsored Programs Accounting (SPA) to learn from colleagues about best practices and day-to-day management of projects

If you have questions about proposing effort contact Sponsored Research Services.  If you have questions regarding Quarterly Monitored Workload Reports (QMWR) or implementation of effort reporting procedures contact Milagros Concepcion in Sponsored Programs Account (SPA).