Reason for Effort Certification

The University receives federal funding on sponsored project agreements and is required to comply with OMB Circular A-21 relocated to the Uniform Guidance, 2 CFR 200, which states that the University has a system in place for certifying salaries and wages associated with federally sponsored agreements. The Circular stipulates that the certification reports should reasonably reflect effort allocated to the activities for which the employee is compensated and that they are to be signed by the employee, principal investigator or responsible official(s) using suitable means of verification that the work was performed.

At North Dakota State University, we certify to our effort on grant projects with the use of an after-the-fact form called a Personnel Activity Confirmation (PAC) form. These effort certification forms detail effort shown on grant projects, and are generated semesterly for all NDSU departments by the Grant & Contract Accounting Office.

It is required that employees who receive an effort certification form review the form to confirm that all activities are reported correctly and that the distribution of effort shown on the certification report reflects a reasonable estimate of the percentage of total effort that was spent on each activity. Signing the report confirms that effort, as certified, reasonably represents the effort expended during that time period.

If the information shown on the PAC is incorrect, the employee is to make the appropriate changes to the form and indicating a retroactive distribution (retro) will be processed. Do not sign the PAC but return it to the Grant and Contract Accounting Office and submit all proper documentation for the retro to be processed.

Who Needs to Know About Effort Certification?

Employees who are compensated in whole or in part by sponsored projects or who are involved with the administration of sponsored agreements should be familiar with effort certification. This includes central and departmental sponsored project administrators, deans, chairs, principal investigators and other sponsored research personnel.

Explanation of University Compensated Effort

University compensated effort includes research, teaching, administration, clinical activity, service, and any other activity for which an individual receives compensation of salary, wages, supplementary salaries and overloads from the University. University compensated effort must be reasonable, allowable and allocable to the sponsored research in order to be properly charged and certified to the sponsored program. For example, it may be inappropriate to charge or certify costs to a sponsored agreement for time spent preparing a proposal for an unrelated or competing agreement because such costs would not be allocable to the sponsored agreement.

Effort Certification Reports

The technical name for the effort certification forms used at NDSU are Personnel Activity Confirmation (PAC) Reports. These reports list the Project ID, Fund Code, Dept. ID, Salary Paid (%), Effort (%), and Cost Share (%). Certification of this report requires that the employee sign and date the bottom of the report and return it to the Grant and Contract Accounting Office.

Frequency of Certification

NDSU has three effort reporting periods which follow the University’s semester schedule:

August 16 – December 31
January 1 – May 15
May 16 – August 15

Approximately 15 days after each effort reporting period, the NDSU Grant and Contract Office will generate effort certification reports which are to be reviewed, signed, and returned within 30 days after the department receives them.




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