FAQ's for the Electronic Certification of Effort and Reporting Tool (ECERT)


This article addresses the Frequently Asked Question's regarding the Electronic Certification of Effort and Reporting Tool (ECERT).


Q: Can a non-PI employee certify their own effort reports?


  1. Yes, a non-PI employee can certify their own Effort Reports.
  2. The PI is ultimately responsible for timely and accurately certifying the effort for all non-PI employees whose effort/salary is charged to their federal or federal flow-through, Sponsored Project Awards.

Q: How does UCSD satisfy its effort reporting requirement?


  1. UCSD satisfies its Effort Reporting requirement through an Effort Reporting tool developed with other UC campuses and the Office of the President, called The Electronic Certification of Effort and Reporting Tool (ECERT).

Q: Can a PI receive 100% salary from federal awards, including federal flow-through funding?


  1. Effective July 1, 2012, Principal Investigators (PIs) may receive no more than 97% of their salary from federal Awards, including federal flow-through funding.
  2. This policy does not apply to PIs who receive partial funding from other sources (e.g. State of California, industry, non-profits).

Q: Are there best practices for certification of effort?


  1. Certification of effort charged to federal Awards is a critical compliance area with significant risk potential to the university and its federally-funded research.
  2. The Sponsored Projects Finance (SPF) facilitates Effort Reporting Best Practices & Process Improvements to help ensure timeliness and accuracy during the biannual certification process of employees paid through federal research Awards.

Q: How does ECERT handle K Awards?


  1. K Awards require 75% effort, the recommended way to handle certification when K Award funds a portion of the employee’s salary is to:
    • Modify the Adjusted Pay % column to reflect the actual effort performed.
    • Allow the status to remain Certified/Adjustment Required when the report is certified in this case.
    • Enter a Comment, ensure it contains the following:
      • Please note that actual effort performed on the K Award was ___%
      • The differential between the paid percent and effort percent is considered voluntary, uncommitted cost sharing and therefore no payroll adjustment is necessary
  2. If the 75% of the employee’s salary exceeds what the K Award supports, set up their payroll to pay the non-K Award professional salary at the true rate and the K Award salary at an adjusted (lower) rate to utilize the K Award.
  3. You then set up a By Agreement for the difference, since By Agreement Pay doesn't impact effort percentages.
  4. This is similar to the way UCSD pays employees with an NIH salary cap.

Q: How can an effort report total 100% when employee doesn't have a full-time University appointment?


  1. Effort is not based on a 40-hour work week.
  2. It's based on the total time spent on university activities, no matter how many hours are worked.


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