Learn about the Certification of Personnel Costs

Learn about the certification of personnel costs at Columbia University.


Who has to self-certify?

In the past, the University has permitted a variety of individuals, including Departmental Administrators (DAs), to certify effort, as long as they have the requisite knowledge to do so.

  • Under current University policy, all Officers of Instruction and Officers of Research (other than postdocs) who work on sponsored projects are required to self-certify their effort.
  • Principal Investigators are required to certify the activity of graduate students, postdocs and staff funded by their grants.
When does certification occur?

The University's fiscal year runs from July 1 to June 30. The certification period opens in the Fall. Until then, all self-certifiers and PIs should review effort quarterly in ECRT.

What is the Effort Coordinator’s role in effort reporting?

In the past, the departmental administrator was often responsible for certifying the effort of faculty in his or her department. Under current University policy, administrators cannot certify faculty effort. However, administrators still fulfill key responsibilities as Effort Coordinators. Among other things, Effort Coordinators are responsible for supporting faculty certification, including PI certification of personnel working on their sponsored projects; helping faculty monitor their effort during the year; and processing any necessary changes in Columbia’s accounting system to reflect changes in effort allocations.

For more information on effort reporting roles and responsibilities, download our Effort Reporting Roles and Responsibilities (pdf).

The ECRT (Effort Certification and Reporting Technology) system facilitates both the monitoring of effort distributions during the year and the required annual certification of effort.

Log in to ECERT

Primary Effort Coordinators (PEC)

All departments have a PEC who has final review of all effort reporting and monitors the Effort Coordinators. To find the PEC for your department send an email to [email protected].

Salary Adjustments Resulting from Effort Reporting

Any salary adjustments must be made in PAC Labor Accounting system. Visit Human Resources at Columbia for more information about PAC. See this job aid link for information on how to complete a cost transfer transaction. 

Job Codes

People are assigned as a self-certifier or non-self certifier based on their job code in Peoplesoft (PAC).  This table shows each job code and its alignment to either self-certifier or non-self-certifier.

Download Job Codes in PeopleSoft2 (xls)

Certification Justification Form

All paper certifications (e.g., for individuals who have left the University) must be accompanied by a Certification Justification Form explaining the circumstances for using the paper certification (e.g. “Prof. Jones is no longer at Columbia and Dr. Smith is the PI on her grant.”)

Download the Manual Certification Justification form (pdf)

Related Links

Effort Reporting Roles and Responsibilities

Download our Effort Reporting Roles and Responsibilities (pdf)

Related Training

Visit the Finance Training Library for additional training resources for Faculty and Effort Coordinators.

Still have questions?

Email us at [email protected].