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South Dakota Board of Regents' Effort Certification Policy: BOR Effort Certification Policy

Effort Certification PI Manual -- Each topic on the Table of Contents is linked to the page pertaining to that topic.


Effort Reporting is a critical compliance issue. Signed Effort Reports are considered legal documents in which an individual attests to the accuracy of the effort spent on sponsored projects. Effort reporting is a federally-mandated process by which the salary charged to a sponsored project is certified as being reasonable in relation to the effort expended on that project. Sponsors use these reports to confirm that effort expended by an individual working on the project supported what the sponsor paid. 

One of the most common audit findings is that effort reports are certified by individuals with insufficient knowledge of the work performed. Both the Pre-Reviewers (with mandatory review authority) and Certifiers must have direct knowledge and a suitable means of verifying the work performed on the sponsored project.

The responsible employee closest to the effort should certify their own effort reports. However, employees may not always be aware of what project they are working on and from what fund source they are being paid. Therefore, the PI, or someone authorized by the PI, will have the option to act as an alternate certifier in place of the employee.

Effort Certification has three stages known as Periods –- the Pre-Review Period, the Certify Period, and the Post-Review Period. Most of the actions taken on effort reports will be during the first two Periods. The PI will need to approve the effort reports by completing a mandatory review for employees paid on sponsored projects for which they are responsible. Also, they may act as an Alternate Certifier with the optional action of certifying effort reports in place of the employees. Finally, they will need to certify their own effort reports if they were paid on sponsored projects.

It is not recommended that a PI, or anyone else, act as an Alternate Certifier for other faculty members working on their projects. Faculty members should always make every effort to certify their own effort reports.

If you or any of your employees need training on performing roles in the effort certification process, please feel free to contact Karen Williamson either by phone (605.642.6319) or by email: Karen.Williamson@BHSU.edu.