TEARS - FAQ
What is an effort report?
An effort report is the official document used by the University to document all effort, whether treated as direct or F&A, for sponsored agreements. This document is required by OMB Circular A-21 section J (10).
Why do I have to certify an effort report?
As a recipient of Federal contract and grant funds NCSU must comply with OMB Circular A-21. Because cost sharing is not identifiable in the financial accounting system, these costs are identified in TEARS. The effort report confirms how effort was spent on projects. The reports generated based on the effort report also are used in the development of the F&A cost rates.
Who receives an effort report?
Employees in the following circumstances are subject to effort reporting:
- Employees who work on sponsored projects for which the sponsor reimburses the University.
- Employees who work on sponsored projects but whose time on the project is funded by the University. The University’s contribution to the cost of the project is referred to as Cost Sharing.
- Employees who work in the Colleges of Agricultural and Life Sciences and Natural Resources and are funded from certain federal appropriations.
What is a summer effort report? What do the percentages represent?
We are required to issue a separate summer effort report to capture and document summer work on sponsored projects from 5/16 through 8/15 that is paid directly (not included in the base salary for 9-month employees). This requires a signed statement that the work was performed and can be signed by the employee, principal investigator, or responsible official(s) using suitable means of verification.
The percentages represent only the amount of time spent working on sponsored awards during this summer time period. Any other work performed during this period will not be represented on the effort report.
What happens if I do not certify my effort report?
If you do not certify your effort report, you will not be in compliance with OMB Circular A-21. The University is then at risk of losing existing and future funding from sponsoring agencies. We are also required to report to University of North Carolina General Administration (UNCGA) on effort reports that are not certified.
Who can certify effort reports?
Employees should certify their own reports, but in unusual circumstances Deans, Department Heads and designees can certify for others. One person should never certify for the entire unit. As the employee or designee certifying the effort report, you are certifying that the information on the report is an accurate representation of the percentage of actual effort expended during the reporting period. Certifying an effort report that is inaccurate or incomplete is unlawful and could result in legal and/or disciplinary action up to and including dismissal.
What do the percentages on my effort report refer to?
The cost sharing set-up is for the period of time the cost sharing is anticipated to occur. The effort report is for an entire survey period based on whether the employee is a 12-month or a 9-month employee. The percentage indicates the percentage of time of the entire survey period for the specified categories on the effort report.
If the survey period on the record is a short survey period (i.e. less than the full survey period), then the system will perform a calculation to equate the short period to the equivalent of its percentage of the total survey period.
When the system calculates the cost sharing percentage for the effort, it is being calculated based on the cost sharing set-up percentage from the set up form multiplied by proportionate number of days the cost sharing set-up represents of the entire survey period.
What is the difference between the percentages on the cost share set-up vs. the effort report?
The percentages used on the Cost Sharing Set-Up is the percentage of time employees believe they will cost share their effort during the period indicated. This period may be less than a full survey period. If the set-up is for a period of time less than a full survey period, the percentages will be converted to the percentage of the full survey period on the actual effort report.
The percentages shown on the effort report should reasonably approximate how much an employee actually worked during a full survey period. The survey period will vary depending on whether the employee is a 9-month or 12-month employee.
Cost Sharing Questions
I did a cost sharing set-up in TEARS recently. Why is it not showing up in my monthly cost sharing report?
Cost Sharing reports are created after each payroll has been processed. If you completed the Cost Share set-up after the biweekly or monthly payroll lockout date, the updated information from the set-up will be reflected on the next cost share report. An email notice is sent to all TEARS Coordinators when the reports have been created for each payroll.
What is the difference between a “from” account and a “to” account?
The “from” account or “funding account” is the project that is actually funding the cost sharing. The “to” account is the ledger 5 project that is actually being worked on by the individual.
What do I need to do to my cost sharing set-ups if an employee changes from a nine-month employee to twelve-month employee (or vice versa)?
The set-ups need to be deleted and reentered. When you go into the system to create the new cost sharing record, the employee’s record should reflect the new employee type. If the record is not recreated, it will not show up on the employee’s effort report.
How do I determine cost share set-up percentages?
Cost sharing should be documented when the Principal Investigators and other University employees spend a significant amount of time on sponsored projects that is not reimbursed by the sponsor. What is considered significant is ultimately left up to the judgment of the Principal Investigator(PI).
The significance of time (unless specifically committed to in the award) spent on any given project should be based upon the facts/circumstances/prior commitments of that project and is ultimately the PI’s decision when judgment is called for.
When do I need to do a cost sharing set-up?
Cost sharing should be entered at the beginning of an award and updated as needed.
The TEARS Cost Sharing Set-Up Form must be used to establish cost sharing percentages in the effort reporting system for:
- Employees working on sponsored projects but whose time in the project is funded by a non-sponsored project.
- Cost sharing performed in order to maintain committed levels of effort on sponsored projects.
- Cost sharing performed in order to meet committed dollar amounts or % of award amounts.
- Any award where there will be direct charges associated with an individual (travel, tuition, etc.). To determine if exceptions to “Post-Award Cost Sharing” have been met, go to http://policies.ncsu.edu/regulation/reg-10-05-15
The purpose of the TEARS Cost Sharing Set-Up Form is to establish cost sharing percentages in the system before effort reports are printed so that the anticipated percentages are reflected on the effort reports. Additionally, cost sharing set-up forms must be in the system in order for the cost sharing reports (monthly or otherwise) to be accurate.
An after-the-fact memo must document cost sharing by EPA 9-month faculty during a summer period and bi-weekly paid employees. After-the-fact memos documenting cost sharing must be submitted to the Office of Contracts and Grants.
What is cost sharing (as it relates to labor/effort)?
Cost sharing is the portion of total project costs not borne by the sponsoring agency. It is the realization that all of the project costs may not be absorbed by a single funding source.
Cost sharing represents resources provided by other funding sources that directly benefit the sponsored projects. In most cases the cost sharing source will be from University Funding.
Cost shared effort is defined as work performed by employees on sponsored projects that are not paid by the sponsor. (In other words, cost sharing on sponsored projects for employees who work on the sponsored project, i.e. the salary is funded by the University or by some other funding source.) Cost shared effort should be included on the effort report as it is a component of the total effort that an employee works.
The following situations involving cost shared effort cannot and should not be documented on effort reports:
- Cost sharing funded by another sponsored project.
- Cost sharing funded from federal appropriations.
- Cost sharing performed by bi-weekly paid employees.
- Cost sharing performed by 9-month EPA employees during the summer period May 16 through August 15.
In each of the above cases, an after-the-fact memo is required to document this type of cost sharing. See After-the-Fact Cost Sharing Guidelines for more information.
What is a survey period?
What is a survey period?
Survey periods are the federally approved time periods for employee effort reporting. An employee’s classification (9-month EPA, 12-month EPA or SPA) determines the survey period as follows:
- 12-month EPA and SPA employees: Fiscal year – 07/01 through 06/30
- 9-month EPA employees: Academic year – 08/16 through 05/15NOTE: Because 9-month contract EPA employees are reimbursed for their academic year work over the 12-month fiscal year (i.e., they receive 12 monthly payroll checks instead of 9), effort percentages for the Fiscal year effort report include regular payroll charges for months not indicated by the survey period. Payroll charges for the months of May through August are included in the Fiscal year effort report.
- Supplemental summer period: 05/16 through 08/15NOTE: Supplemental payments to faculty incurred in the University’s payroll system from May through September and identified by earnings code 605 are included on special effort reports that are prepared for 9-month EPA faculty who work on contracts and grants during the summer months.