A woman working on her laptop in a glass-walled office. Salary costs are often the largest expense charged to sponsored projects. The salary charged to a specific sponsored project must be consistent with the actual activities performed on the project and supported with appropriate, contemporaneous documentation.

For employees receiving extramural support, a certified effort report is the document that represents all UAB activities and is the mechanism used to provide assurance that the salary charged is appropriate in relation to the work performed.

This process includes several layers of individuals who work in concert to ensure effort is timely certified with reasonable accuracy, including the departmental effort officer (DEO), effort reportable employee, and UAB Financial Affairs.

For DEOs and effort reportable employees, it is important to review the UAB Effort Reporting Policy opens a new website and UAB Effort Reporting Procedures opens a new website before reviewing and/or certifying an effort report.

Additionally, effort reportable employees and DEOs are required to complete the training course, “Effort Reporting: Principles, Process, and Certification.” pdfDownload transcript.

UAB effort reporting is conducted within the Oracle system and follows a specific workflow. For a flowchart of the Oracle system distributions and workflow of effort reporting, please see the Effort Reporting Certification Flowchart opens a new website.

Fundamental Principles of Reviewing an Effort Report

When conducting an effort report review, the following principles should be considered.

1. 100% is 100%.

There is no set number of weekly hours that constitute total University effort (e.g. a 40-hour work week). Rather, effort is reflected as a percentage of your total University activities with each activity combining to a total of 100%.

Think of your effort report as a pie that equals your total University activity. Each proportional slide representing a University activity as shown below. Effort on each University activity is reflected as a percentage of your total University activities:

Effort Report Pie Chart Example Federally-sponsored Project30% Non-sponsored activites*49% Foundation-sponsored project20% 1%

2. All activities must be included on the effort report, in the period in which the activity took place. 

Effort is a reflection of activity, not salary support.  Any activity performed on a project must be reported on the effort report in the period in which it took place. Even if there is no salary support, the activity conducted must be reported on the effort report.  Thus, regardless of whether an activity is funded by a federal, non-federal, or departmental/internal source, it requires effort reporting. 

This includes research, teaching, service and administration within the university.  If a sponsored project does not allow for salary, a cost-sharing commitment form should be completed to allow activity/effort on the project to be documented. Departmental administrators can assist with completing these cost-share commitment forms and submission to the UAB Office of Sponsored Programs (OSP).

3. There are no nights/weekends for effort reporting. 

University activities are not performed on one’s own time.  No matter where/when UAB work takes place, it must be included in Total University Effort and allocated to the appropriate project on the effort report.

An effort report reflects the actual time spent on activities (as a proportion of total UAB effort), even if the actual effort does not align with the time originally planned for that activity.  For instance, a proposal’s budget is an anticipated commitment of effort; however, the project may require more/less effort than was anticipated and therefore the effort report may/may not align with the originally proposed budget.

Relevant Dates

Effort is certified by UAB Project Employees on a semi-annual basis (every six months). The table below specifies the periods and the associated dates and deadlines of effort reporting at UAB.

Effort Reporting Period

Dates of Periods

Deadline to Certify

First Half of Fiscal Year (H1)

October 1-March 31

May 31

Second Half of Fiscal Year (H2)

April 1-September 30

November 30

The deadline to certify effort reports is sixty (60) days following the end of the effort reporting period. For H1, the deadline is May 31. For H2, the deadline is November 30.

Effort Reports not certified within sixty (60) days after the end of the reporting period are past due and non-compliant with UAB Effort Reporting Policy and Procedures.

Drone shot of a campus green space with sail-like shelters. Best Practices

  1. Recognize that effort reporting is an ongoing process, not a one-time activity. Keeping track of your actual effort, necessary changes in ACT documents, and sponsor requirements are best done on an ongoing basis, not solely at the end of the reporting period. Communicate often with your departmental staff to help ensure everyone is aware of pertinent deadlines and issues in order to facilitate review for reasonable accuracy.
  2. Review your account statements and payroll distribution reports consistently and at least once a month. You, and in conjunction with your DEOs and other department administrators, should review sponsored project account statements, payroll expense distribution reports and effort statements at least monthly (or bi-monthly). This is an effective way to timely monitor salary expenses on your projects to ensure their accuracy.
  3. Review University information sources detailing your activities documented by the University. Various University information sources may help ensure all activities are included in your effort report and that non-sponsored duties are being adequately reflected in your non-sponsored effort percentage. These include, but are not limited to, OSP e-Reports, appointment letters, annual reviews, information maintained by the department, school, Financial Affairs, IRB, IACUC, award budgets, project personnel lists, travel vouchers, outside activity forms, position descriptions, other support forms, leave reports, etc.
  4. Use of contemporaneous (i.e., routine, day-to-day) work records is a reliable means of documentation. These business documents may help you reasonably estimate and support your assessment of actual effort. These include, but are not limited to, calendars, lab notes, progress reports, meeting notes, etc.
  5. Communicate often with your DEO and/or departmental administrators. This facilitates Oracle/ACT documents to be kept current (e.g., starting work on new projects, stopping and/or reducing work on older projects, etc.) This is an important mechanism for ensuring effort reports are reasonably accurate the first time they are generated and for allowing timely review and certification.
  6. Know your funding agencies’ guidelines. This facilitates an understanding of what specific activities are covered by award funds. Your DEO can be very helpful in this regard.
  7. Use at-risk/pending accounts as necessary to allow for timely and accurate effort report certification even before a grant account is established. Your DEO can help with setting up these accounts in a timely manner. This is an effective mechanism for allowing effort to be appropriately allocated with a project where work has begun, but a grant account has not been established (e.g., contracting delays, etc.) Effort should never be certified to an unrelated grant account.


Below is a list of Effort Reporting training available to the UAB community.  If you believe that you or your department would benefit from more customized training, please contact the Office of Compliance & Risk Assurance.  We are eager to help you satisfy your specific learning objectives.

Additional Tools and Documents