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Late payroll accounting adjustments will not be processed after July 1

Beginning July 1, 2024, payroll accounting adjustments (PAAs) will no longer be processed for past certification periods. This means that:

  • Once certified, effort will be considered final.
  • Salary cost transfers must either be processed prior to issuance of effort certification documents or corrected during the certification process. For example, researchers must correct effort for: September-December by the end of January; January-May by the end of June; and June-August by the end of September. If effort for a past period isn’t certified, it is an unallowable cost.

Effort is heavily scrutinized by sponsors and auditors as it makes up the highest percentage of charges to sponsored projects. Retroactive corrections to effort charges after certification is often an indication of poor award management. Penalties for violations or findings of weak institutional controls can be significant.

PAAs submitted after certification and PAAs adjusting effort that occurred before the most recent certification period will be denied and uncertified effort will be billed back to the investigator’s department, consistent with processes for all unallowable expenditures. 

Other effort reporting practices to avoid:

  • Overly precise requests, such as changing an appointment by 17.346% for one month in the past.  Such precision is not required since in signing an effort report, the signer is acknowledging that the payroll distribution ‘reasonably’ reflects the activities for which the employee was compensated during the reporting period.
  • Moving effort from one sponsored award to another because the second was not yet in place.  Instead, PIs should either request a preliminary project when the effort begins or charge effort to department funds.  Otherwise, there is incorrect billing to the first award for those costs. 

Researchers with questions can talk with their department’s research administrative support or sponsored program officer

Effort Certification Overview

Effort certification is when the responsible individual confirms the effort charges for the certified period are correct and complete. Because faculty and most research staff do not complete time sheets, effort percentages are imprecise. The federal government understands this and generally considers certified levels of effort within +/- 25% of committed to be acceptable. 

There are three annual effort reporting periods: spring semester, summer, and fall semester. At the end of each reporting period, Workday collects all payroll information over the reporting period for each employee. That information is used to compute the percentage of salary charged to each funding source, which in turn is used to generate an effort certification report.

If the report is correct and complete, the certifier approves, verifying that the ‘salary charges to the sponsor are reasonable in relation to the work performed, and the effort provided to each sponsor is at least as great as the effort promised to the sponsor.’ If a report is incorrect, it should not be signed.  and steps should be taken immediately to initiate a correction in Workday through a PAA, and, when ready, the researcher will be alerted that a corrected effort report is available for certification.