Effort is your time spent on a sponsored project, regardless of whether the sponsor funds your salary.
When you are listed as PI, co-PI, or key personnel on a grant proposal, you are obligated to commit a certain amount of effort to the sponsor.
In order to comply with federal regulations, effort committed to a project must be documented at the proposal stage and tracked (certified) throughout the lifecycle of the project.
What is an effort commitment?
A commitment is the amount of effort you propose in a grant proposal or other project application, and that the sponsor accepts – regardless of whether you request salary support for the effort.
How are effort commitments measured?
Commitments are expressed in terms of a percentage of your work time or calendar months (CM) over a given project period. At 20% for a 12-month appointment: .2 x 12 = 2.4 CM.
Who needs to record effort commitment on a proposal?
Commitments are recorded and tracked for the PI, co-PI(s) and senior/key personnel identified in the proposal.
Which proposal components are used to document effort commitments?
- Award requirements
- Budget/budget justification
- Project description/research plan
Limits on effort commitment
- An individual’s aggregated commitments to sponsored projects cannot exceed 100%
- Commitments to sponsored projects can only add up to 100% if all of your job duties are allocated to sponsored projects.
- Proposal-writing, institutional committee service, etc. are not allocable to sponsored projects. Individuals with such responsibilities must reserve some percentage of effort for theses duties (5% is recommended), to be funded by unrestricted sources.
- For investigators with academic or administrative responsibilities, commitment to sponsored projects generally cannot total 100% for any consecutive 12 month period.
Minimum effort commitment
- Minimum required commitment for PIs on all sponsored projects, except clinical trials, is 1% of total effort.
- For clinical trials, commitment to any one trial may be less than 1% as long as the sum of commitments for all the trials totals at least 1% and represents a reasonable level of effort.
- The minimum effort requirement does not apply to equipment/instrumentation grants, doctoral dissertation grants or student augmentation grants.
- The minimum effort requirement does apply for the PI on a training grant, but not for the faculty mentors, as their effort will be assigned to the trainees’ specific research projects.
Click on the link below for more information on how to convert commitments to percent effort.
Effort Guidance Document – Commitment Conversions
Effort on a sponsored project can be funded in two ways:
- Paid effort is work for which the sponsor provides salary support.
- Cost-shared effort is work on a sponsored project for which the university, rather than the sponsor, provides salary support. There are several types of cost-shared effort:
- Mandatory: Cost sharing required by the sponsor as a condition of the award
- Voluntary committed: Cost sharing that appears in the proposal but is not required by the sponsor
- Voluntary uncommitted: Cost sharing not stated in the award documents; usually occurs when more time is devoted to a project than stated in the proposal or award.
An individual’s effort on a given grant may be a combination of paid and cost-shared effort.
For example, if you indicate in a proposal that you will devote 30% of your effort to the grant for one year, and request salary support for 10% of your effort, then:
- Effort commitment is 30%
- Paid effort is 10%
- Cost-shared effort is 20%
Outstanding effort tasks
It is important to keep all effort tasks (training, certification, etc) timely and current. According to University policy, failure to do so will prevent submission of proposals and processing of awards.
Changes in effort commitment
Agency approval is necessary for REDUCTION of time devoted to the project by 25% or more from the level that was approved at the time of initial competing year award. If you want to commit more effort, it’s considered voluntary uncommitted cost-share, and there is no need to contact the agency or report on the extra effort. Work with your department effort coordinator if you need to make changes to your effort coordinator.
Reductions in budget. When an agency agrees to fund a proposal at less than the original budget amount, effort needs to be taken into consideration during revisions. If the scope of the project is changing due to less funding, will effort levels remain the same?
No-cost extensions (NCEs). With the exception of grant programs that have a specific minimum effort requirement (e.g., NIH K type awards), Research & Sponsored Programs (RSP) will no longer require the update of effort commitments when requesting or receiving a no-cost extension (NCE). After a thorough analysis of sponsor policies and Federal regulations, it has been concluded that a NCE simply provides additional time during which the originally proposed effort can be expended.
- RSP effort home page: List of links to effort-related policy, training materials, forms and tools, from Research and Sponsored Programs (RSP)
- RSP effort commitment FAQs: Frequently asked questions about effort commitment, from Research and Sponsored Programs (RSP)
- RSP effort calculator: If your effort on a project varies, this Research and Sponsored Programs (RSP) tool calculates the overall effort percentage for an entire reporting period.
- RSP effort reporting FAQs: Frequently asked questions about effort reporting, from Research and Sponsored Programs (RSP); also includes some information on effort commitment and management
- RSP effort glossary: Effort-related terms and definitions, from Research and Sponsored Programs (RSP)
For more information or assistance with effort related to proposal development, contact your department research administrator or SMPH Research Division Preaward: Debbie Meltzer, (608) 263-4940, or Christy Schulz, (608) 265-3386.