Learn about Effort Reporting

Learn about effort reporting, or the documentation of personnel costs, at Columbia University.


What is effort reporting?

Effort reporting is the process by which the salary charged to a sponsored project is certified as being reasonable in relation to the effort expended on that project.

Why do effort reporting?

The federal government requires universities to document that salaries charged to sponsored projects are reasonable in relation to the effort expended. Effort reports constitute one of the primary auditable documents to support salary costs on sponsored projects.

Who is required to certify effort?

Officers of Instruction, Officers of Research other than postdocs, Officers of Administration or Officers of Libraries who receive sponsored project funding or commit effort to any sponsored projects are required to certify their own effort.

Principal investigators are required to certify the effort of postdocs, graduate students and staff funded by their grants.

How is research overseas handled?

Research overseas observes all of the same protocols as domestic research.  However, if effort is expended by employees of affiliated entities, please contact [email protected] for guidance on meeting reporting requirements and subsequent effort certification.

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

Related Training

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

Still have questions?

Email us at [email protected].