S. Proposing, Managing, and Certifying Effort for Employees Engaged in Externally Sponsored Programs

(Note: OLPM sections on this page may be cited following the format of, for example, "UNH.VIII.S.1.1". These policies may be amended at any time, do not constitute an employment contract, and are provided here only for ease of reference and without any warranty of accuracy. See OLPM Main Menu for details.)

1.   Definitions

1.1   Administration. Services that benefit common or joint university or department activities in organized research units, academic departments or programs, and in the offices of the deans, vice presidents, provost, and president. For purposes of this policy, "Administration" also includes proposal preparation for competing renewal and new applications.

1.2   Departmental/University Research. Research, development, scholarly, and creative activities conducted under University of New Hampshire (UNH) auspices but not funded by an externally-sponsored project.

1.3   Effort. Time spent by a UNH employee on any USNH activity, including Sponsored Programs.

1.3.1   Committed Effort. Total projected amount of time the UNH employee has agreed to work on a sponsored project or other USNH activity.

1.3.2   Cost Shared (Contributed) Effort. Percentage of committed Effort not funded by the sponsor, i.e., to be paid for and contributed as cost sharing by UNH.   Mandatory Cost Sharing of Effort. Funding that, either due to award terms/ conditions or by federal statute, requires UNH to contribute personnel costs and corresponding Effort to the project as a condition of receiving the award.   Voluntary Committed Cost Sharing of Effort. Personnel costs and corresponding Effort associated with a sponsored project, which were identified in the proposal, but not required or funded by the sponsor.   Voluntary Uncommitted Cost Sharing of Effort. Personnel costs and corresponding Effort associated with a sponsored project and not funded by the sponsor, which were not committed in the proposal or in any other communication to the sponsor.

1.3.3   De minimis Effort. Infrequent, irregular activity that normally would be considered "so small" that it cannot (and should not) be accounted for. Activities can be considered de minimis in amount when, in the aggregate, they represent one percent or less of the individual's Total University Effort. (See UNH VIII.S.1.3.4.)

1.3.4   Total University Effort (TUE)

All activities for which the employee is compensated with USNH-administered funds for performing Regular Duties and for work for which the employee receives Additional Pay. (See UNH V.F.1.1.13 for definition of Regular Duties and UNH V.F.7 for the Additional Pay policy.) Types of Additional Pay unrelated to Effort (e.g., Employee Transition Allowance or monetary awards for recognition) are excluded from consideration for TUE. TUE is 100% regardless of FTE %.

TUE includes all USNH Effort-based activities regardless of when during the daytime, evening, weekend, or year, or where (e.g., on campus, at home, while traveling) the activities take place. TUE is not based on a 40-hour work week, but rather on the total USNH hours the employee spends on the combination of Regular Duties and Effort expended for Additional Pay. For example, if a person averages 60 hours per week on USNH activities and spends an average of 15 of the 60 hours per week on a Sponsored Program, that person is spending 25% Effort on the Sponsored Program and 75% on other duties.

See UNH VIII.S.3.8 – "Table on Total University Effort" – for examples of activities allowable as direct charges on Sponsored Programs.

1.4   Effort Certification. Process by which the UNH Principal Investigator (PI),  or persons having first-hand knowledge of employee effort on sponsored programs affirm that the percentages of received pay reflected on the Effort Report are a reasonable reflection of the percentages of Effort that the paid individual expended on each Sponsored Program and other work activities.

1.5   Effort Report. Listing of USNH accounts from which the UNH employee has been paid for Effort expended during a specified period; used for Effort Certification.

1.6   Instruction. Preparation, evaluation, and delivery of the university’s teaching and training activities, regardless of whether offered on a credit or non-credit basis. Also includes Instruction-related activities, such as thesis advice, student mentoring, and similar activities. Student mentoring directly related to a faculty member’s sponsored research is considered a research activity that may be allocated to the Sponsored Program.

1.7   Service. Membership in a standing committee (e.g., admissions committee, governance body, Human Subjects Review Board) or an ad hoc committee such as a search committee or task force. Service may qualify as de minimis Effort, depending on the extent of the individual’s involvement. (See UNH VIII.S.1.3.3 above.)

1.8   Sponsored Program. Project funded by an award from a grant, contract, or cooperative agreement under which UNH agrees to perform a certain scope of work, according to specific terms and conditions, and which requires detailed financial accountability and compliance with sponsor terms and conditions.

1.9   Sponsor Salary Cap

In some cases, sponsors impose limitations on the amount of Institutional Base Salary (IBS) or Rate (IBR) that may be used as the basis for charging salary to their projects. (See UNH Regular Pay policy at V.F.1.1.9 and V.F.1.1.10 for IBR and IBS definitions.) This is known as the "Sponsor Salary Cap." This does not affect the employee’s actual pay, just the source.

2.   Scope, Applicability, and Purpose

2.1   This policy sets forth requirements for proposing, managing, and certifying Effort on externally-Sponsored Program awards administered by UNH. The policy applies to all employees whose pay is charged to UNH-administered sponsored projects, in whole or in part, and to all UNH employees who have committed Effort to a sponsor but are not receiving salary support from the sponsor, also known as cost sharing. The policy applies regardless of whether or not the sponsor is Federal.

2.2   In requesting external funding for projects and programs, UNH must ensure that the proposed commitments of Effort are reasonable and conform to UNH’s and the sponsor’s expectations of the employees involved. If external funding is awarded, UNH must assure the sponsor that the proposed Effort will be effectively managed within the parameters of the sponsor’s requirements and UNH policy.

2.3   In addition to complying with the sponsor's expectations and requirements for allowable and appropriate charges to Sponsored Programs for Effort expended, UNH must comply with federal regulations regarding Compensation for Personal Services.

3.   Policy

3.1   Proposals: Proposing Effort Commitments and Requesting Related Salary/Wage Support on Sponsored Programs

3.1.1   General   In preparing proposals, Principal Investigators (PIs) must propose some level of activity (1% or the minimum required by the program) unless specifically exempted by the sponsor. PIs are expected by UNH to provide reasonable estimates of the percentage of Effort for themselves and all other key personnel necessary to carry out the proposed project. Proposed levels of Effort should be consistent with the actual Effort each employee is expected to expend on the project during the relevant project period(s). The amount of salary support requested normally should be determined by multiplying the proposed level of Effort percent by the employee's IBS or IBR. Salary support that is not requested normally should be stated as cost shared (contributed) Effort. (See UNH VIII.S.3.1.2 below.) In no event, should the requested salary support exceed the amount determined by multiplying the proposed level of effort by IBS or IBR.   Regardless of the amount of Effort provided and ultimately certified, the total amount of effort may not exceed 100%. Reductions of Committed Effort on a sponsored program should be appropriately justified and documented and reductions on federally sponsored program of 25% or more, from the proposed and awarded level, require prior approval from the sponsor.

3.1.2   Cost Shared (Contributed) Effort (See also UNH VIII.S.1.3.2.)   If the sponsor requires Mandatory Cost Sharing for the program, this requirement can be met through cost sharing of PI or key personnel Effort, with approval prior to proposal submission by the Responsibility Center unit head (normally the dean or institute director) and the UNH sponsored programs administration (SPA).   UNH typically does not cost share/ contribute Effort on a voluntary basis (see UNH VIII.M, Cost Sharing on Externally Sponsored Programs). Approval for Voluntary Committed Cost Sharing of Effort must be obtained prior to proposal submission from the Responsibility Center unit head and SPA. This type of cost sharing is agreed to as part of the award and is required to be documented, tracked, and reported. Voluntary Uncommitted Cost Sharing of Effort is not required to be documented, tracked, or reported.

3.1.3   Sponsor Salary Caps (See also UNH VIII.S.1.9.)   Where Sponsor Salary Cap limitations apply, the requested salary support is determined by multiplying the proposed level of Effort percent by the maximum IBS allowed by the sponsor.

Such limitations result in an automatic situation of cost shared (contributed) Effort, where the total Effort is split between Effort allowed to be charged to the sponsor and Effort funded by UNH. There may be other circumstances in which UNH may elect to request salary support at a lesser amount than the salary that could be requested based on proposed level of Effort.

3.1.4   Maximum Proposed Salary   Normally, a PI may not request in a single proposal to receive externally-sponsored salary support for more than 95% of his/her IBS. Faculty with 9-month appointments normally may not request in a single proposal to receive externally-sponsored summer salary support for a full 3 months. (See also UNH V.F.7.1.35, V.F.7.3.5, and UNH VIII.S.3.3 for additional information on Summer Pay and Effort.)   It is understood that the sum of active + proposed percentage commitments for a given period may exceed 100%, because proposals may not result in awards. However, to the extent that a proposal results in an award, reductions must be made to existing commitments (and the sponsors notified when required and/or appropriate) to ensure that the total Effort percentage committed to Sponsored Programs does not exceed 95% during the regular appointment period (or 100% during the Summer Period for academic-year faculty) for each UNH employee who will receive pay from the award. ("Summer Period" is defined as the approximately 13 weeks between academic years.)   In rare situations, Additional Pay for Effort beyond the employee’s Regular Duties (see UNH V.F.1.1.13 for definition of Regular Duties) may be proposed to the sponsor. (See UNH V.F.7 for Additional Pay types and policy for requesting and obtaining UNH approval.)

3.2   Awards: Establishing Salaries on Sponsored Project Award Accounts

3.2.1   Sponsors generally consider estimates of Effort (and corresponding salary requests) in proposals to be commitments if such proposals are awarded. If an award is accepted by UNH, the PI and key personnel are committed to provide this level of Effort over the award budget period unless sponsor policies permit otherwise. As a recipient of sponsored funds, UNH must assure sponsors that the Effort expended on the projects is at least commensurate with the salaries charged to those projects. In addition, sponsors require assurance that any Effort committed to a project, even Effort not compensated by the sponsor, is provided. PIs are responsible for ensuring that all Effort commitments are met for the program and ultimately certified.

3.2.2   UNH uses two methods for effort reporting, Plan Confirmation and After-The-Fact Effort Certification. (See UNH VIII.S.3.5.5 and UNH VIII.S.3.5.6.) Under Plan Confirmation, the distribution of salaries and wages of professorial staff applicable to sponsored agreements is based on budgeted, planned, or assigned work activity, periodically updated to reflect any significant changes in work distribution when those occur. Non-Instructional sponsored staff and other operating staff utilize After-The-Fact Effort Certification. In either method, salary/labor distribution consistent with committed Effort should begin on sponsored program award accounts (and cost sharing accounts, if applicable) concurrently with actual project Effort. It is the PI's responsibility to be aware of committed Effort for himself/herself and all project staff, and to promptly communicate via a written work plan with his/her UNH Business Service Center (BSC) to assign salary charges to the award and adjust charges to other USNH accounts as appropriate.

3.2.3   Maximum Allowed Regular Pay from Externally-Sponsored Programs

An employee's pay may not be charged directly to an externally-Sponsored Program for activities that are not identified in that specific program. Pay for Administration, Instruction, Service, clinical activity, institutional governance, and new or competitive proposal preparation must not be charged directly to externally-Sponsored Programs unless the activities are specifically approved activities of those Sponsored Programs. 

(See UNH VIIII.S.3.8, Table on Total University Effort, for examples of activities allowable for directly charging Sponsored Programs.)

Some sponsors may impose a cap on the amount they will reimburse for individual salaries in awards. For example, the National Institutes of Health will not reimburse at an annual rate that exceeds the cap it publishes each year. Also, the National Science Foundation normally limits compensation it will provide to two months in a one year period. For the purposes of this policy the year is defined as the beginning of the academic year plus the following summer session, e.g., August 25th through August 24th. Any request for salary greater than two months that was not specifically approved by NSF in the award notice budget, that would not cause the objective or scope of the project to change, should be submitted to the appropriate Grants and Contracts Administrator (GCA) in SPA with supporting documentation.   Academic Year Faculty during the Regular Appointment Period

Normally, faculty members have responsibilities during the academic year that preclude them from devoting 100% of their time to externally-sponsored activities. Deans and department chairs or their designees, and faculty should review proposed sponsored activity to assure that, if other activities required of the faculty member reduce the available Effort to devote to sponsored activities, payroll distribution adjustments are made consistent with sponsor terms and conditions.   Fiscal Year Faculty and Staff during the Regular Appointment Period

Fiscal year faculty and full-time staff members with teaching, research, service, and/or administrative responsibilities normally are precluded from devoting 100% of their time to and receiving 100% of their UNH pay from USNH-administered externally-Sponsored Programs. With written approval from the UNH Senior Vice Provost for Research (SVPR) or designee exceptions can be made up to 100% if the employee is working exclusively on the Sponsored Program(s) (See UNH VIIII.S.3.8, Table on Total University Effort, for examples of activities allowable for directly charging Sponsored Programs.)

Some fiscal year full-time staff members in certain classifications (e.g., research scientists and research technicians) are expected to devote 100% time to Sponsored Programs; these positions are given categorical approval by the SVPR to charge 100% of their pay to Sponsored Programs.   Adjunct Appointees

The employee's related pay may be charged directly to USNH-administered externally-Sponsored Programs in accordance with UNH VIII.S.3.2.3 above.

3.3   Summer Effort/Salary for Faculty with 9-Month Academic Appointments

For purposes of this policy, the definition of a Summer Period (see UNH V.F.1.1.16) workweek is consistent with the definition of an Academic Year workweek (see prevailing Collective Bargaining Agreement). It is expected that faculty engaging in externally-sponsored projects during the Summer Period will not allow other activities (e.g., teaching, proposal writing) performed during the Summer Period to interfere with or reduce the faculty member's ability to expend summer Effort on externally-sponsored projects, as that Effort is committed to sponsors and for which he/she is earning summer salary. If the Effort associated with any such other activities could not be conducted reasonably along with externally-sponsored commitments, the faculty member has the obligation to adjust, and likely decrease, summer commitments and salary on externally-sponsored projects.

A request for summer salary indicates a commitment to put forth the comparable Effort on the particular project during the Summer Period. Effort expended during the Academic Year does not satisfy a commitment related to receipt of summer salary. Faculty members receiving 3/9th of their salary are expected to forego vacation during the period coinciding with the work effort.

3.4   Post-Award: Revising and Monitoring Effort and/or Salary Commitments on Sponsored Project Awards

3.4.1   With each new award received, changes in other USNH commitments, and/or other changes in activity that could impact the level of effort proposed/awarded for sponsored projects, the PI is responsible for reviewing the Effort commitments for each activity to ensure there is sufficient time available to meet all obligations. PIs must ensure that with each new award or additional assignment (such as for Service on a UNH committee), he/she adjusts the percentage of Effort and associated compensation plan for each activity accordingly. It is the PI's responsibility to communicate promptly with his/her Business Service Center (BSC) to assign labor distributions to the new awards/activities and adjust for future charges to other UNH accounts as appropriate.   Retroactive salary/labor adjustments to Sponsored Programs are discouraged. If an error has occurred, the PI must provide written documentation to the BSC to explain the reason for the error. Except for UNH-mandated adjustments such as retroactive salary increases, no retroactive salary/labor adjustments greater than 90 days from end of month original transaction was posted may be made to Sponsored Programs without approval from the BSC and SPA. All adjustments are subject to after-the-fact review and possible disallowance by SPA.

3.4.2   When sponsor approval is required for reductions in Effort on awarded projects, PIs must obtain UNH and sponsor approval prior to reducing their Effort. If an Effort reduction is indicated for a sponsored project award, the salary charged to the sponsor must be reduced commensurate with the Effort reduction.

3.4.3   The PI must communicate significant changes in level of Sponsored Programs effort to his/her BSC such that salary distribution adjustments are made on a timely basis.

3.4.4   It is recommended that PIs monitor salary/labor charges to their Sponsored Programs on a monthly basis, but no less frequently than quarterly. Salary distribution adjustments should be communicated to his/her BSC in a timely manner.

3.5   Certifying Effort

3.5.1   Each UNH employee (or other responsible person with specific knowledge of the employee's Effort) must certify his/her TUE if all or part of the related compensation was funded by UNH Sponsored Programs during the period covered by the Effort Certification. Graduate student effort is certified by PI(s) or designee(s).

3.5.2   If the individual certifying the Effort is other than the employee, the certifier must use "suitable means of verification" that the work was performed and that the associated pay was reasonable in relation to the Effort. It is the PI's responsibility to ensure that appropriate records (e.g., calendars, teaching schedules, lab log books) are up-to-date and available for review or audit to substantiate that the work was performed. Such records may be considered suitable means of verification. Other means of verification might include e-mail messages attesting to Effort devoted, based on firsthand knowledge. Oral verification alone will not suffice.

3.5.3   If the percentages of actual TUE differ from the percentages of actual pay on Sponsored Programs by more than 5% for the certification period, the PI must promptly communicate to the BSC the details such that corrections can be made to the payroll system. Differences of 5% or less do not require payroll system adjustments unless the associated costs are unallowable. An example of an unallowable cost is time spent on competitive proposal writing.

3.5.4   De minimis activity (1% or less of TUE) devoted to non-sponsored university activities is not required to be identified on the Effort Report, but may be allocated to Sponsored Programs and non-sponsored activities consistently and equitably. Examples of de minimis activities may include attending departmental meetings, completing performance reviews for supervisees, and enrolling in employee benefit programs. Proposal writing for new and competitive renewal projects, and well-defined, regular Administration (see UNH VIII.S.1.1) and Service (see UNH VIII.S.1.7) activities cannot be considered "small", therefore must not be treated as de minimis.

3.5.5   Utilizing either Plan Confirmation or the After-the-Fact Confirmation Method, Effort Certification must be completed annually by or for each salaried employee who received pay from one or more UNH Sponsored Programs during the Effort Certification period. Effort Certifications are to be provided to UNH SPA no later than October 15 each year for the preceding UNH fiscal year reporting period.

3.5.6   Hourly-based employees use Web Time Entry (WTE) as part of the UNH bi-weekly payroll process. When certified by the employee and approved by his/her supervisor, or an individual with first-hand knowledge of the employees’ activity, WTEs reflecting TUE meet the requirements of After-the-Fact Effort Certification for hourly-based employees receiving wages from UNH Sponsored Programs.

3.5.7  Because it is expected that the PI will promptly initiate future labor distributions and correct errors to prior salary/labor charges to his/her Sponsored Programs, instances of re-certification of Effort after the original certification is filed should be rare. Approval by the UNH Senior Director for Research and Sponsored Programs or designee is required in order for UNH to accept a correction of a previously-filed Effort Certification.

3.6   Training

3.6.1   UNH effort certification training is available at https://www.unh.edu/research/effort-reporting-and-certification-training. Principal Investigators of UNH externally-Sponsored Programs should complete the Effort Certification training made available by UNH, or receive training at a kickoff meeting prior to allocating salaries to a sponsored project. It is the responsibility of the PI to explain effort certification to research staff paid on their grants and/or to direct them to UNH effort certification training.

3.6.2   Each PI should complete the UNH Effort Certification training module even if s/he does not receive pay but supervises employees who are paid by the PI's-Sponsored Program.

3.6.3   The PI's BSC and local business/administrative staff supporting UNH Sponsored Programs are encouraged to complete this training.

3.7   Consequences of Non-Compliance

3.7.1   If a PI does not complete the specified training, the PI's next award may not be accepted by UNH until such time as s/he successfully completes the training.

3.7.2   If an employee fails to return his/her Effort Certification within the required period, no further proposals may be submitted nor awards accepted by UNH for the employee/PI until such time as the certification is completed and submitted to SPA.

3.7.3   Sponsored Programs funds expended for employees who violate this policy may be disallowed by the sponsor and/or UNH. In such cases, the PI and his/her college/school/department must provide unrestricted UNH funds to reimburse the sponsor.

3.7.4   Other violations of this policy will be addressed under the USNH Employee Code of Ethics and other policies as appropriate.

3.8   Total University Effort Table

Total University Effort Table
(Activities considered part of TUE and whether those activities are chargeable to sponsored programs)
Activity Included in Total University Effort? Chargeable to UNH Sponsored Program?
College/school/dept./research center leadership (e.g., dean/chair/director) Yes No

Clinical services provided in a facility unaffiliated with UNH and for which no UNH compensation is received No No

Clinical services provided in a UNH facility and compensated through UNH Yes If directly identified in the sponsored program

Research or other scholarly activity conducted without external sponsorship Yes No

Teaching a course or seminar at USNH Yes If directly identified in the sponsored program

Working with students or maintaining office hours Yes If directly identified in the sponsored program

Guest lecturing at a non-USNH institution Yes, unless compensated by that institution No, unless it is about work for the specific UNH sponsored program

Consulting No, unless compensated through USNH No, unless directly identified in the sponsored program

Journal peer review No No

Funding agency proposal review No, unless UNH reimburses associated travel and expenses No

Professional society participation No, unless UNH reimburses associated travel and expenses No, unless directly identified in the sponsored program

Committee member or chair
(e.g., PSU search, dept., tenure, UNH IRB)
Yes No

Research or service pursuant to a UNH sponsored program award Yes Yes, if the sponsor agreed to fund the effort

No, if the sponsor requires the effort but has not agreed to fund it (mandatory cost sharing)

No, if the researcher volunteered the effort but the sponsor has not agreed to fund the effort (voluntary cost sharing)

Writing competitive funding proposals Yes No

Writing continued funding applications and progress reports Yes Yes, when directly identified to the specific sponsored program

Writing scholarly articles Yes No, unless directly identified in the sponsored program

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