Under federal regulations, the University is obligated to provide detailed records of time and effort spent by faculty and staff on activities such as instruction, research, extension, public service, administration, and so forth.
Documentation of time and effort activity is required on all contracts and grants regardless of the source of funding and on all other activities that would have an impact on F&A costs. The University must be ready to provide sufficient detail concerning these activities to allow a reviewer to determine whether the work performed benefited sponsored projects. Faculty is reminded to take these reporting duties very seriously. Refer to the UWF Combined Activity/Effort Reporting System (CAERS) User Manual (PDF) for more information.
The federal government acknowledges that practices vary among institutions and within institutions as to the activity constituting a full workload. Accordingly, institutions are permitted to express effort in terms of a percentage distribution of total institutional activities.
UWF’s CAERS is intended to report 100% of an individual’s university activity for which regular salary is paid. University activity includes teaching, research, public service, administration and other university-related activities. It also includes activities performed by UWF personnel related to contracts between UWF and other separate legal entities. RSP’s staff offers periodic training to individuals/groups and will provide assistance upon request.
Only specific employee activities have to be certified on an effort report under OMB Circular A-21 regulations. Activities that are always certifiable are the direct activities of Sponsored Research, Sponsored Instruction, Other Sponsored Activities, and associated cost sharing. When an individual has a pay distribution during the semester from a UWF fund classified as one of these certifiable activities, then CAERS will be required for that individual. CAERS will include 100% of the individual’s effort related to the base salary for which UWF compensates the individual. For example, an employee may be employed for .5 FTE or half time, but the .5 represents 100% of the individual's university related appointment. Therefore 100% of the contracted effort is allocated to the salary source.
When an employee is paid directly out of a grant, his or her efforts should be represented in a CAERS report. The individual will receive email notification when the system is open for CAERS submission. The CAERS reports are to be completed within 60 days of the end of the semester.
A Personnel Action Sheet should be submitted to officially change the payroll account distribution of an employee when that individual's effort changes. This will record the account distribution change on the Effort Report for future pay periods.
Occasionally, corrections must be made to previously certified effort. When retroactive changes are made to a previously filed term effort report (CAERS), each effort report must be re-certified and an explanation of why the change was made must be provided.
The legislative mandated provision on some federal programs (such as NIH) imposing a cap on reimbursement of salaries creates a special problem in completing effort reports at UWF for highly compensated faculty and staff. By law, these federal agencies may not reimburse salaries under awards at an annual rate that exceeds the cap. This requires UWF to create a special Effort Report for those individuals that are compensated from these awards. These Effort Reports have to reflect the NIH salary cap base in effect for each award. The difference in the amount charged to the UWF account and the federal salary cap base is considered cost sharing for UWF. Once the effort report is certified, entries will be made to record this cost sharing.