Effort Reporting

As a recipient of significant federal funds, Case Western Reserve University must certify that the effort, salary and fringe benefit costs associated with a sponsored project are accurate, appropriate and allowable. The CWRU Office of Research and Technology Management has established an Effort Reporting Policy for proper documentation and certification of the effort that individuals contribute to projects. Understanding effort reporting and adhering to university policy helps to ensure compliance with federal regulations, transparency in financial activities and appropriate allocation of funds. 


Review key vocabulary that will help you better understand effort reporting.

Effort: Proportion of time spent on professional activities, such as research, teaching, administration, clinical activity and service for which an individual is employed by CWRU or appointed as a CWRU faculty member. For clinical faculty at the School of Medicine, effort also includes clinical activity for which they receive compensation from CWRU or a clinical practice plan or other source of compensation for clinical activity. Effort does not include activities such as consulting that are conducted outside the terms of employment at CWRU or outside a CWRU faculty appointment.

Effort reporting: Documentation of the proportion of work time devoted to these professional activities, expressed as a percentage. Effort is not calculated on a 40-hour work week, but rather based on the actual hours worked. For instance, if an individual works 80 hours in a week, 40 hours these activities would represent 50% effort.

Institutional Base Salary (IBS): Annual compensation for an employee’s 9- or 12-month appointment, whether that individual’s time is spent on research, teaching or other activities. IBS does not include bonuses, one-time payments or incentive pay; nor does it include payments from other organizations or income an individual is permitted to earn outside of university responsibilities, such as consulting. IBS must be used as the base salary on all grant proposals unless there is a statutory limit on compensation, such as the National Institutes of Health (NIH) cap. 

Cost-sharing: The project costs that are not borne by the sponsor. Cost sharing of effort is the provision of faculty, staff, and/or student time and related fringe benefits that were committed and provided in support of a project but are not paid for by the project sponsor. There are three types of cost sharing:

  • Mandatory cost-sharing: Required by a sponsor as a condition for making an award and usually refers to an overall percentage of total project costs to be contributed by a source other than the sponsor. 
  • Voluntary committed cost-sharing: University faculty, staff and/or student effort that is over and above that which was not committed or budgeted for in a sponsored agreement.
  • Voluntary uncommitted cost-sharing: University faculty, staff and/or student effort over and above that which is committed and budgeted for in a sponsored agreement. This differs from mandatory or voluntary committed cost sharing which is cost-sharing specifically pledged in the proposal’s budget or award.

100% effort: The total amount of effort expended to accomplish the professional activities of CWRU faculty, staff and students—regardless of the actual number of hours expended on those activities. It will likely be different for each individual and may vary throughout the year. 100% effort typically includes all effort expended on CWRU-compensated sponsored research, administration, teaching, unsponsored scholarly activity and other activity. In the case of clinical faculty, it also includes clinical activity compensated by clinical practice plans.

The effort reporting policy applies to all roles on CWRU-administered sponsored projects, regardless of whether their primary appointment is through the university or an affiliated hospital. Anyone who devotes effort—paid or unpaid—to sponsored activities is subject to effort reporting, including faculty, all staff working on sponsored projects and undergraduate, graduate and postdoctoral students.

How to Report and Certify Effort

  1. ORTM’s Office of Post-Award Services and Compliance (PASC) creates an effort report for each faculty, staff, postdoc and student who expended effort on a funded project. This process occurs for each effort reporting period, after the end date of each period, as defined below.  
  2. PASC will release the effort reports to department administrators or designated personnel by the start of the Effort Reporting Certification Period.
  3. Department administrators or designated personnel review each person’s effort before releasing it to faculty, staff, postdocs and students for certification.
  4. All individuals with effort must certify their effort report in Spiderweb. Learn how to use Spiderweb.
  5. The post-award office reviews submitted effort certifications. If the certified effort does not match records in HCM, then a variance will occur. During the designated time period the department administrators will work with PASC to address the variance. Read about variance on effort reports and how they are cleared.

Effort Reporting Schedule

Reporting Periods  Dates Effort Reporting Certification Period Variance Reconciliation Due Date*
First half of calendar year for 12-month appointments:  Jan. 1 - June 30 Sept. 1 - Oct. 31 Dec. 31
Second half of calendar year for 12-month appointments July 1- Dec. 31 March 12 - May 20 Aug. 20
Fall semester for 9-month appointments Sept. 1 - Dec. 31 March 12 - May 20 Aug. 20
Summer for 9-month appointments June 1 - Aug. 31 March 12 - May 20 Aug. 20
Spring semester for 9-month appointments Jan. 1 - May 31 Sept. 1 - Oct. 31 Dec. 31

NOTE: When a date falls on a holiday or weekend, it is due the university's next working day.

Helpful Tips

  • Release and certify early. The earlier the reports are reviewed, released and certified, the more time our office has to assist with any issues that may arise. Reviewing variances immediately can help avoid the need to request recertification.
  • Review reports in your queue to make sure they all belong in your area. If any need to be moved to another department, you can let us know at effort@case.edu.
  • If an individual has no effort on a sponsored project, please ask effort@case.edu to remove the effort report.
  • The salary distribution report and the HCM-Human Resources report found at data.case.edu can be useful tools in determining whether you have all the necessary reports in your queue and in reconciling each person’s report.


There are many individuals involved in the effort reporting process, and each one has a role in ensuring that certifications are accurate and completed on time. 

  • Understand their level of effort committed, charged and reported on all applicable awards, as well as that of their staff members (non-faculty personnel)
  • Review, initiate corrections if necessary and electronically certify their individual effort report
  • Communicate significant effort changes to department administrator
  • Review salary charges on awards on a routine basis with department administrator and identify any effort-related changes
  • This includes anyone supported by sponsored projects.
  • Review, initiate corrections if necessary and electronically certify their individual effort report
  • Monitor effort commitments, salary charges and cost sharing on all applicable awards
  • Communicate any changes that require sponsor notification and/or approval to the Office of Pre-Award Services and Agreements (PASA)
  • Review salary charges with PI/faculty member and post any salary distribution updates and/or corrections in a timely manner
  • Review effort certifications for accuracy during the review period
  • Monitor that effort certifications are completed within the certification period
  • Monitor compliance with the university effort reporting policy 
  • Coordinate with the Office of Post-Award Services and Compliance on any questions or issues at effort@case.edu
  • Maintains the university effort reporting policy
  • Provides effort reporting training, guidance on requirements and oversight of university-wide compliance with the university effort reporting policy
  • Prepares effort reports for certification in accordance with the published timelines 
  • Reviews and clears variances as appropriate 
  • Manages the business/functional aspects of the electronic effort reporting system, Spiderweb
  • Provide customer service to faculty and department administrators, respond to functional questions and issues.
  • CWRU is required to comply with the Office of Management and Budget's (OMB) Uniform Administrative Requirements, Cost Principles and Audit Requirements for Federal Awards (also known as "Uniform Guidance"). 
  • Uniform Guidance Subpart E §200.430 contains the federal regulatory requirements for internal controls over certifying time expended on sponsored projects.