This series is a chance for central Research Support staff and Department Administrators to meet in an informal environment and discuss topics of interest to the community. We plan to hold the sessions regularly, and value everyone’s support and participation in making the sessions engaging and interactive.
Breakfast is provided, and there are plenty of opportunities for questions, as well as networking with colleagues.
Our next session will be held in January/February 2019 on the topic of Proposal Best Practices. Please fill out the form below with your questions and topics that you would like us to cover in this session.
For BU's official Effort policies and procedures, see the Effort Reporting section of the Manage an Award page; Sponsored Program Effort Certification Procedure; and Sponsored Program Salary Adjustment Procedure
- Effort Presentation Slides - this deck includes information on what effort is, how BU tracks effort, how PARs are generated and how to use the PA15 report in BW to check salary, as well as several Personnel Activity Report You can find details about Per... examples
- Quick Guide to completing and returning PARs
- See also Training videos on salary cap and cost share
What is effort?
Total University Effort is the sum of all professional activ... More is the sum of all professional activity or effort for which an individual is compensated by the University. Total University Effort is not based on a “standard” work week. If an individual who is being compensated for a 100% appointment works 50 hours in a week, then 25 hours would represent 50% of his or her Total University Effort. If an individual who is being compensated for a 50% appointment works 30 hours in a week, 30 hours would represent 100% of his or her Total University Effort.
Total University Effort generally includes externally sponsored research activity, department research, teaching, clinical service, administrative duties, and proposal writing. Activities outside of Total University Effort include personal consulting and other outside compensated professional work as described in the External Compensated Activity Policy, volunteer individual community or public service, and Veterans Administration Hospital compensated activities documented in a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU).
Why does the University need to record and report effort?
The Effort Reporting process is Boston University’s way of ensuring we comply with this Federal Regulation and is part of a yearly audit.
What is Institutional Base Salary?
IBS does not include payments from other organizations or income that a person is permitted to earn outside of his or her University responsibilities, such as private consulting. The IBS rate must be used as the base salary for all grant proposals.
How do I explain effort to a new PI?
BU gathers this information through effort reporting and PAR certification. Effort is the amount of time an individual spends on any project or award.
What is 100% effort and how does it relate to hours worked?
Effort percentages on the PAR must total 100% exactly, no more or less. All effort must be accounted for, and is not tied to specific hours per week. For example, an individual who spends 40 hours a week on sponsored research and 40 hours a week on clinical activity would report an effort percentage of 50% for each, totaling 100% for the certification period. If a graduate student has a full-time appointment for a total of 20 hours per week, then averaging 5 hours a week on a sponsored project during the effort reporting period represents 25% of their effort.
What is committed effort?
The cost associated with committed effort may be borne by the sponsor (charged to the grant or contract) or by the institution (documented as cost-sharing).
What is the difference between payroll or labor distributions, effort reports (PARs) and effort certification?
Payroll or labor distributions are the sum of an individual's compensation that is withdrawn from sponsored programs. Effort reports (PARs) are an extract of all payroll system charges for a given employee during the effort reporting period, as recorded on the date the PARs were generated. Certification of an effort report (PAR) represents an employee's agreement that the effort expended on sponsored projects and other activity for which they were compensated by BU is accurate, allowable, and properly allocated.
Effort is not just a verification of the salary or payroll distribution charged to sponsored projects; committed cost-sharing effort must also be included in effort reports.
What is the difference between percent of base salary and committed effort, such as when someone has an academic appointment with research release time?
Here is an example. If a Professor’s base is $100,000 and they have one course release (each course being worth 20% of the base), they would be budgeted as $80,000 in the school and $20,000 on an unnamed grant.
- Scenario A: At some point a grant is awarded, and it has 10% effort budgeted; they cannot charge the $20,000 (20% of base), they can only charge $10,000 (10% of base). If the release is budgeted in the Spring and the grant started in the Fall and effort is 10% for the full FY, they have to charge the effort equally over the two semesters even though they didn’t budget that way. The department then has to cover the $10,000 that is not covered by the grant, and so “loses” money.
- Scenario B: The grant that is awarded has 25% effort. The department charges the grant $25,000 (when they only budgeted for $20,000) which creates an extra release, or savings of $5,000, for the department and they “make money” on this as long as the budget office allows them to keep excess release.
What is the difference between real percent effort spent, based on actual salary vs reported effort spent based on DHHS cap?
The reported effort that prints out on the PAR is calculated by taking the formula: Amount charged to Award / Employee Full Salary.
The difference between the Printed Effort on the PAR and the “real” effort that the individual performed is considered cost share.
How do you differentiate effort vs compensation when PARs are generated from payroll (ie limit on NIH fellowship stipends)?
I need to make change to my previously certified PAR, what do I do?
All recertified PARs are also signed by the Assistant Vice President, Post Award Financial Operations PAFO assists faculty and ....
How is summer effort for 9-month faculty handled?
What are PARs and who receives one?
The University is required by federal regulation to certify effort; so individuals who have had any portion of their salary charged to a sponsored award that certification period will have a PAR generated, this includes faculty, grad students, undergrad students, etc. The exceptions are: students who are paid with weekly timesheets, individuals who are paid with non-PAR eligible wage types and individuals paid from a sponsored program but the percent is less than one half. Duplicate PARs: SAP generates a PAR for each employee group. Therefore if an employee moves between exempt, non-exempt and student employee groups the employee will have duplicate PARs to certify.
What are the PAR periods?
- • January to June (FYXX P1)
- • July -- December (FYXX P2)
PARs are typically sent in February for the July – December PAR period and August for the January – June PAR period. All PARs are due back to PAFO within 60 days.
How are PAR percentages calculated? What categories of compensation are reflected on the PAR?
PARs and PAR percentages are generated via SAP for BU employees who are charged to either BU or BMC Sponsored Research. PAR percentages are calculated via SAP using a system of formula’s that is based on Employee Groups (exempt, non-exempt, student exempt). For more information on Employee Groups see "Viewing Employee Master Data using PA20 Transaction" in BU TechWeb resources.
There are certain Wage Types that are “PAR Eligible” and some that are “Not PAR Eligible”. A listing of Wage Types can be found.
What happens if I pick the wrong wage type?
How are PARs completed (ie certified)?
Certification of the PAR represents an employee’s agreement that the salary charges shown on the report reasonably reflect the effort expended on sponsored awards and other activity for which they were compensated for.
Is the PAR process different for graduate students as opposed to faculty?
How is overbase shown on a PAR (e.g. a grad student covering night labs, or a Professor teaching an MET class)?
Overbase payments (if paid via a PAR eligible wage type) will show up as part of the Salary % number.
Can I record 100% effort on a sponsored award or combination of awards?
Why was a PAR I submitted, returned to me?
- Additional certification needed: Employee is noted on the PAR as Faculty but did not sign their own PAR. Faculty signature must be added to the PAR.
- Effort not 100%: The total effort for % of effort expended column does not equal 100. The total effort for % of effort expended column must equal 100.
- Incomplete certification statement: The certification of effort expended section is not complete. The certification statement may be blank, not be considered a digital signature, missing the date certified or the Supervisor/Principal Investigator box may not be checked. If the employee does not certify their own PAR then it is acceptable (except for Faculty) for their Supervisor or Principal Investigator to sign but it is not acceptable if the appropriate box is unchecked.
- Missing percent: the percent of effort expended column is blank. The percent of effort expended column must be completed (either by manual or digital is acceptable).
- Over the Cap (DHHS): The PAR is noted as Faculty Over DHHS Cap and there is no cost share listed in Section II. BU Sponsored Activity B. Cost Sharing Activity. If no cost share is required but the PAR is noted as Faculty Over DHHS Cap please add a note with the reason.
- SARF needed: In the II. BU Sponsored Activity A. Sponsored agreement section the percent of effort expended is less than the percent of salary charged. If the percent of salary charged percentages are greater than the percent of effort expended on the listed projects or activities then a Salary Adjustment must be submitted via the Salary Cost Distribution Screen within SAP to support the modified percentages and attached to the PAR.
- Unacceptable signature: Employee is noted on the PAR as Faculty but did not sign their own PAR. Faculty signature must be added to the PAR. Employee did not sign their own PAR and is not Faculty but the Supervisor or Principal Investigator box is unchecked. If the employee is not Faculty and the Supervisor or Principal Investigator signed the PAR then the appropriate box must be checked.
In the event of extraordinary circumstances where a faculty member is unavailable to certify his/her effort report, the Associate Vice President for Financial Affairs should be notified to determine the appropriate steps to take to achieve meaningful certification.
When would I need to recertify a PAR?
If PARs have been distributed and the adjustment affects an original transaction date for the PAR period the PAR must be corrected. Just write or type in the new effort percent(s). The % of Effort Expended column needs to reflect the accurate salary distribution to match the adjustment. The employee’s recertified PAR must be submitted with the SARF.
If the PAR has been certified and submitted to Effort Reporting then the PAR must be revised to include the adjustment and attached to the Salary Adjustment Request Form (SARF). The PAR must list the revised effort percentages with each change initialed by the employee.
I am submitting a salary adjustment (SARF) to my PAFO Research Administrator. Do I need to submit a PAR with the adjustment?
If a PAR has not been distributed to you because it is before the effort certification period has ended then a PAR does not have to be submitted with the SARF. Remember PARs are distributed after the fact and twice a year.
I am submitting a student salary distribution adjustment request form (student SARF). Do I need to submit a PAR with the SARF?
PARs are not generated for students who are paid on a weekly basis using timesheets. Rather, the weekly timesheet serves as their effort certification.
How do I make adjustments for terminated employees?
- Adjustments or cost transfers for terminated, non-student, employees are processed using a paper Salary Adjustment Request From (SARF) to be submitted to PAFO for approval and routing to Human Resources Information Systems (HRIS)* for processing on the back end as you cannot initiate a PA form for a terminated employee.
- Paper SARFs can be found at the Research Support site: Salary Adjustment Request Form
- All Adjustments or cost transfers for students paid as graduate students or undergraduate students via the student payroll system are processed using the Student Salary Adjustment Request Form (Student SARF) to be submitted to PAFO (Effort Reporting) for approval and routing to Student Employment Office.
- Paper Student SARFs can be found at the Research Support site: Student Salary Distribution Adjustment Request Form (student SARF)
When is it appropriate to do a cost transfer or payroll adjustment using a Journal Entry?
- corrections of overpayment credits to be confirmed by Payroll
- when a payroll record cannot be corrected any other way as confirmed by BUworks
- correction of vacation payout to be processed by PAFO only
A revised PAR, or manual PAR, may be required for any of the actions above.
How do I correct non-service stipends?
- If the end date of the non-service stipend is in the past (considered historic) the only correction action available is via journal entry
- If the end date of the non-service stipend is not in the past (not considered historic) the correction is done via a new non-service stipend
What happens if PARs are not certified correctly or in a timely fashion?
What if I didn’t receive a PAR but worked on sponsored awards during the reporting period?
If faculty have questions about a PAR, who should they contact?
How do we handle UROP (Undergraduate Research Opportunities Program) students?
How do you determine cost share for effort over the NIH Cap?
What do I need to know about cost share on AHA grants, and BMC clinic time/non BU accounts?
BMC Clinic time and/or non-sponsored BU accounts are referenced accordingly in Section III. Services Provided to Boston Medical Center (as Vendor).
For Faculty with salary over the cap on an DHHS Grant, should “cost share” be indicated on the Proposal?
What accounts can be used to cover cost share for faculty who are over the DHHS Salary Cap?
How do I deal with obligated and unobligated cost share? (e.g. How do you report effort when there are funding shortfalls and actual effort exceed compensated effort?)
Employees can always have more effort than salary. When this occurs, the difference has to be added to cost share.
How do I determine if my effort is a direct charge or cost sharing?
- Mandatory - Quantified in proposal, Required as condition of proposal and included in the Notice of Award, Tracked on PAR
- Voluntary Committed - Quantified in proposal, Not required as condition of proposal, Strongly discouraged, Tracked on PAR
- Voluntary Uncommitted – Is implied, but not quantified in proposal, Not required as condition of proposal or Award, Not tracked on PAR
How do I deal with voluntary committed and voluntary uncommitted cost sharing on effort reporting? (e.g. joint appointments?)
A PI commits effort on an award proposal, expends the effort but doesn’t take the compensation (i.e. voluntary committed cost sharing), how should this be represented on the PAR and what approvals are required?
Carryover and No Cost Extensions
In some situations, where you have remaining unspent funds near the end of a project period, you can use appropriate justification to request a carryover of those funds into the next budget period or a no cost extension to your project period. Information on what carryovers and no cost extensions are, as well as how and when to request them, are below and in the resource links. If you have further questions, contact your Sponsored Programs Research Administrator A sponsored programs team member w....
Unobligated funds remaining at the end of any budget period that, with the approval of the sponsor or with automatic carryover, may be carried forward to the next budget period to cover allowable costs of that budget period. There must be a bona fide programmatic need justified for the use of carryover funds in the next budget period.
No Cost Extension (NCE)
Extends the project period beyond the original end date with no additional funding. Allowed when: the end of the project period is near; there is a programmatic need to continue research; and there are sufficient funds left to cover the extended effort.
Powerpoint slides (presenation deck from our Coffee with Colleagues event, including process detail and examples)
Infographic - quick reference guide (general rules for NCE and Carryover requests by Sponsor, ie NIH, NSF, Non-federal)
NIH Post Award Cheat Sheet - handy guide that summarizes expanded authorities and SNAP requirements based on NIH award type
- AN – Award Notification
- BU – Boston University
- CF – Carryforward (Carryover)
- DA- Department Administrator
- FFR—Final Financial Report
- IO – Internal Order
- IPAR – Institutional Prior Approval Request
- NCE – No Cost Extension
- NIH – National Institute of Health
- NOA – Notice of Award
- NSF – National Science Foundation
- PAFO – Post Award Financial Operations
- PI – Principal Investigator
- PTE – Pass Through Entity
- RA - Research Administrator
- RPPR—Research Performance Progress Report
- Sponsored Programs (SP) is the coordinating office for all p... – Sponsored Programs
What is the difference between carryover and carryforward?
There is no difference, they are synonymous.
How is carryover added to my account?
Automatic carryover is done by the PAFO RA as soon as the FFR or Final Invoice is accepted by the Sponsor. Within the last fiscal year, NIH has started to send BU notifications of when an FFR has been accepted. This should improve the timing of automatic carryover. PAFO only adds carryover to the Other Direct and F&A budgeted line items. If the department wants to rebudget from Other Direct, they must work with their SP RA.
When carryover requires prior approval, the request is initiated by the PI/DA and submitted by the SP RA. Depending on the sponsor and when carryover is requested, approval can take weeks or months. Once BU receives official approval, the addition of the carryover to the budget is processed by the SP RA and reflected in the internal AN sent within 5 business days. As part of the closeout of the previous I/O, PAFO reduced the unspent amount confirmed for the FFR submission. This will show up in BW Reports as “Closeout Bottom Line”.
What is considered obligated/committed funds? Is “cumulative obligated amount” the same as the amount available to spend?
Expenses are considered to be committed and/or obligated if they were incurred prior to the budget end date but have not yet posted to the account. Examples include: pending Subaward invoices from pass thru entities; outstanding vendor invoices from work incurred or; consultant invoices for work completed but not yet invoiced for.
Cumulative Obligated amount is not always the amount available to spend. In cases where carryover is restricted the cumulative obligated is the cumulative amount awarded to BU but may not be the amount available to spend of carryover from previous years was not approved.
Why Does BU setup separate IOs for each year when carryover is not automatic?
BU is required to segregate funds in order to ensure appropriate reporting of expenditures.
If your Sponsor does not allow automatic carryover, you will typically get a new Internal Order number each budget year to ensure that the funds for the new year of the project are only used for that purpose. After the annual close out is completed, the PI/DA initiates the request for carryover working with their SP RA.
Once carryover is approved by the Sponsor, SP will add the funds to the next budget year and the newly established IO#. PAFO has already reduced the prior year budget.
See “How is carryover added to my account?” for additional details.
What is the BU process for getting the funds carried over into the new grant number?
See “How is carryover added to my account?” for additional details.
Is negative carryover allowed?
Yes, if your award is under expanded authority* then you can carryover a negative balance into the next project period. Check with your SP RA if you are unsure if your award has expanded authority.
* Federal administrative requirements allow agencies to waive certain cost-related and administrative prior approval; these are known as expanded authorities. In 2001, NIH extended these authorities to all NIH awards except for the provision to automatically carry over unobligated balances; therefore the term "expanded authorities" has been replaced with "NIH Standard Terms of Award". See Administrative Requirements-Changes in Project and Budget-NIH Standard Terms of Award for more details.
When can you move carryover spending to a discretionary account?
Depends on the grant and the sponsor. Typically this is the case if you have a fixed price agreement and have completed the work and have funds remaining. Typically this happens with the closeout of industry clinical trials. Once a trial is complete and all expenses have been confirmed and charged to the account, the balance is moved to an account determined at the PI’s discretion, typically a discretionary account. Please note that if a PI has over expenditures in other accounts, PAFO will not move the available balance until all accounts are in good standing.
What if you aren't going to use your carryover in the next year and plan to continuously carrying over funds so that you can use the money in your NCE?
Each year must be programmatically described in RPPR and clear justification of the carryover each year is key. Plans must match programmatic progress and budget and should be reflected in the RPPR.
Is there a template to request carryover?
There is no standard template to request carryover. Consult your SP RA for assistance.
Who helps me with my carryover request?
PAFO RA will assist the department by confirming the remaining balance total; the PI and Dept. Administrator should work with their SP RA on the actual carryover request to the sponsor.
When should I submit my carryover request?
PI initiate the process, soon after the FFR is submitted, however the carryover cannot be approved until the FFR is approved. Once the department has confirmed the award ending balance, PAFO can begin the process of completing and submitting the FFR and/or Final Invoice. The due dates vary amongst Sponsor. The department should begin working on their carryover request after they have confirmed the ending balance with PAFO.
How much carryover should I request?
The PI should only request those funds that he/she can appropriately tie to the aims, objectives of the award.
Can I continue to spend while waiting for carryover approval?
Yes, but at your own risk. If the carryover is not approved, the expenses become unallowable and the PI or department must reimburse the University. If the carryover is approved, the DA will have to do cost adjustments in order to reflect the expenditures on the correct IO.
Are carryovers denied, and for what reasons?
On occasion, carryover requests are denied or reduced. SP has seen carryover requests denied due to inadequate justification for future spending of the carryover funds. A large balance may also make it appear as though the project was not progressing at a timely rate or that the remaining funds are not needed.
Where can I find whether an award has automatic carryover?
You can reference the internal AN, however SP advises that you always go to the sponsor’s award notice and review the terms and conditions. If you need help, your SP RA will be happy to assist you.
For NIH awards, when automatic carryover is indicated in the Notice of Award (NOA) but the carryover funds remaining are above the 25% threshold, during the annual reporting period does this require prior approval?
No, when the NOA indicates automatic carryover, we do not need to seek approval from NIH to carryover these funds into the next budget period. When the RPPR is submitted, it should be indicated that the balance is above the 25% threshold and provide a corresponding justification of how the funds will be used in the next grant period. When NIH issues the next year NOA that is their indication of approval. NIH could request additional justification as they review the RPPR or reduce the award if the justification of why the balance exceeds 25% is not adequate.
If BU is the prime recipient of a NIH award where carryover is automatic and we have issued subawards, do you automatically have to grant carryover to your subrecipients?
BU’s default is to automatically grant carryover unless our PI specifically requests carryover to be restricted.
How do I manage incoming subawards to BU when carryover is not automatically granted by the Prime/PTE?
This situation is the same as if BU received a Prime award that did not have automatic carryover.
Is it possible for the prime recipient/pass through entity to have automatic carryover but have it restricted in the subaward issued to BU?
Yes. Sponsors are required to flow down all Terms and Conditions, however, prime recipient/pass through entities are allowed to add restrictions at their discretion. A common restriction is not allowing automatic carryover even when the Prime Sponsor allows it.
Can spending be “shutdown” for subcontracts (in or out) when the year-end period is approaching?
For incoming subawards to BU, departments can ask PAFO to put an account into PAFO/SP status to prevent spending as needed. Typically this will happen when the Sponsor does not pay out outstanding invoices and the department is concerned with continued spending resulting in over expenditures. PAFO can make this change once the final invoice is submitted to the Prime recipient.
For outgoing subawards, spending is monitored and “shutdown” by the review and approval of the invoices submitted by the subrecipients. If the invoice exceeds the amount awarded in the sub agreement issued by BU, the PI/DA/PAFO would not approve the invoice to be paid.
No Cost Extension FAQs
Does a NCE have to be 12 months?
No, the project can be extended from 1 - 12 months.
Can you end your project earlier than the new end date?
Yes, PAFO will submit the FFR once it is done. PI/DA should notify the SP and PAFO RAs if the project is ending earlier than expected.
What happens if your renewal gets awarded and you have a NCE?
Current award ends once the new award is issued, there will be no overlap.
The PI has had verbal communication with Sponsor, how do I provide documentation?
Email communication to SP for their file and indicate that you would like this to be put with the permanent record.
Is it possible to get 2nd NCE when there isn’t much money left, but a lot of work to accomplish, such as manuscript and publications?
Providing a clear justification give you the best chance at a 2nd NCE.
How often is NCE denied, and for what reasons?
It is rare for a sponsor to deny a first or second NCE, but a Sponsor might deny a NCE request due to inadequate progress. It is important that the NCE justification is detailed and provides a clear explanation as to why additional time is needed.
What if you do not have enough money to pay your PI for the same level of effort?
Document in the IPAR justification that the key personnel will be reducing effort. Sponsor prior approval might be needed if the reduction in effort is significant.
During NCE, do you have to ask for permission to reduce effort for key personnel?
It depends on the sponsor guidelines and award terms. The key is to be detailed and tie the time needed to what is remaining to accomplish.
As the Subrecipient, how can BU confirm or initiate a NCE? Do you have examples on other ways you have initiated NCE requests as the subrecipient?
When BU is the subrecipient, the NCE approval will come in the form of an amendment to our existing subaward, extending the project end date as appropriate. The NCE request itself is initiated by working with your SP RA, who will collect the necessary justification and contact the appropriate individual at the sponsoring institution.