BU receives substantial sponsored funding from the federal government. Uniform Guidance, a government-wide framework for grants management, requires educational institution recipients of federal funding to maintain a system that documents and supports individual distribution of activities and associated payroll charges to sponsored agreements. This is known as “effort reporting.”
To fulfill this requirement, department administrators work with BU’s Sponsored Programs Post Award office to complete personnel activity reports (PARs) twice a year in two unique periods: January to June and July to December. PARs are generated for three distinct groups: Exempt, Non-Exempt, and Student.
This page contains frequently used resources, guidance, and FAQs on effort reporting, PARs, and salary caps. Still have questions? Reach out to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Personnel activity reports
- How to complete the PAR
- January – June 2022 PARs: Important Dates and Guidelines
- Effort reporting period dates
There are several sponsors that impose a limit or “cap” on the annual rate of salary reimbursement for a given amount of effort (including National Institutes of Health, SAMHSA, HRSA, CDC, and AHRQ). The difference between the reimbursed salary (“capped amount”) and the un-reimbursed salary is considered voluntary committed cost sharing and must be recorded on the cost sharing section of the Personnel Activity Report You can find details about Per....
- 12-month faculty cap worksheet (2023)
- 9-month faculty cap worksheet (2023)
- Wage types
- Salary caps (NIH)
Prior Year Worksheets
Sponsored Programs (SP) is the coordinating office for all p... Post Award has created a Salary Tool to help you decipher the appropriate amount to charge to Sponsored Research accounts for those individuals who earn more than the DHHS Cap. Within this tool are four tabs so it is important to ensure you are using the correct tab based on the employee status. You should only fill in the yellow boxes; the rest of the sheet will fill in automatically based on formulas. If you have any questions around this sheet, please reach out to your SP Post Award Research Administrator A Sponsored Programs team member w....
The tool can be found here
- Effort presentation slides (including example PARs and how to run the PA15 report in Business Warehouse)
- Effort Reporting (elearning module)
- Effort Reporting (Zoom or in-person)
- Training videos on salary cap and cost share
- FAQ: Does my grant impose a salary cap?
- Effort Presentation October 2020
- Effort Zoom Recording October 2020
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 are the consequences of not completing PARs?
The PAR system assures external sponsors that funds are properly expended for the salaries and wages of those individuals working on the projects they sponsor. This provides the principal means for certifying that the salaries and wages charged to sponsored projects are consistent, fair, and timely with the effort contributed. Finally, sponsors and auditors must also be able to verify that funds allocated for cost sharing have been provided.
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 min / max effort?
PIs cannot certify 0% effort on a sponsored project during the entire grant funding period. They must certify at least 1% effort on an effort statement during any one of the effort periods to accurately reflect their leadership of the project, unless specifically exempted by the sponsor. Additional exemptions may include Deans/Assistant Provosts/Associate Provosts with Provost approval, equipment and instrumentation grants, dissertation and training grants and limited purpose grants such as travel grants and conference support.
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, Sponsored Programs (SP)- Post Award SP- Post Award assist....
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.
How do I get an manual PAR?
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.
If the PAR is for a principal investigator (PI) who has left the University, the Department Chair or Dean may sign on the PIs behalf. The PAR should indicate the PI’s last day at the University.
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.
Do students using timesheets need a PAR?
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 I report cost share on the PAR?
If you are trying to calculate cost share for a previous PAR period and need assistance, please contact email@example.com.
Do I need to cost share salary over the cap?
- Is my PAR noted “Faculty – Over DHHS Cap?
- If the answer is yes then, you must report a cost share percentage in “Category II. Section B. Cost Sharing Activity” on the PAR form and reference the DHHS sponsored program number. The cost share percentage will come from the BU Non-Sponsored Activity. To find the annual “cap amount” for this PAR period, click this link.
In the below example the cap was $189,600. Refer to the most recent rates when calculating for your accounts:
Dr. Smith earns $250,000 annually, expended 50% effort on a DHHS program and 50% effort on Non-Sponsored Activities due to the following tasks: clinical, teaching and proposal writing.
|Account||Total % of Effort||$ Charged to Sponsored Program||$ Charged to Non-Sponsored Activity||Annual PAR Effort||Annual PAR Effort to Cost Share|
|Non-Sponsored Activity||50%||$125,000 (50% * $250,000)||50%|
|DHHS Sponsored Program #||50%||$94,800 (50% * $189,600)||$30,200 (($250,000 – $189,600) * 50%)||38% ($94,800 / $250,000)||12% ($30,200 / $250,000)|
|$250,000 = Total Dollars||100% = Total Effort|
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