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Electronic Certification of Effort and Reporting Tool (ECERT)

Find links to information and guidelines for using the Electronic Certification of Effort and Reporting Tool (ECERT) for effort reporting of federally-sponsored projects.

For any ECERT system related issues, or effort reporting questions that cannot be answered by your department's ECERT Coordinator, please contact BFSupport (login required).

Please be advised that all ECERT system, effort reporting questions, and requests for assistance are reviewed on an as received basis.  Thank you for your patience as we respond to your requests as soon as possible.

Announcement:

September 2016

We’re experiencing issues with PIs being unable to review their ‘My Projects’ and certify effort reports.  Fund Managers are unable to find and review effort reports.  Our ITS colleagues are still actively working to resolve the problem.  Please accept our apologies for the inconvenience as we continue to investigate this issue.

Please ask each employee to self-certify their own effort report if the PI is unable to certify.  We are sorry for the inconvenience.

Donna

ECERT Campus Coordinator

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Benefits of the web-based ECERT system

  • Accessible via any Internet Connection 24/7
  • Certifications are easy to track
  • System interacts with PPS so you can drilldown to detailed payroll calculations (Distribution of Payroll Expense "DOPE" data.)
  • Maintains historical information
  • System became the "Office of Record"
  • Improved accuracy and compliance
  • Effort report status changes, if necessary, when a Electronic Payroll Expense Transfer (EPET) is processed

Job aids-quick reference guides

Reading an effort report

  1. Access the ECERT system.

    If you don't have a business systems account, contact your Department Security Administrator (DSA) or self-register.

  2. Display the desired saved search and select an effort report.
    • Click the down arrow down arrow at the top left of the screen and select the Managed Saved Searches page.
    • Find the saved search you want and click the view iconView icon to see a list of effort reports for that search.
    • Click on the appropriate line to select the report.
  3. View the 5 sections of the report.
    • Sponsored Projects: Employee received pay on these projects that require effort certification.
      • Effort calculations are displayed for each project.
      • For more information about a project, place your mouse pointer over the Project Name and see PI, Award Title, Fund Manager and Sponsor Award Number.
    • Other Sponsored Projects: Employee received pay on projects that do not require effort certification.
      • This section displays a cumulative effort calculation for all projects in this area.
    • Non-Sponsored Activities: Employee received pay on non-sponsored funding.
      • This section displays a cumulative effort calculation for all projects in this area.
    • Report options: Allows the user to specify whether different sponsored projects need to be certified by multiple people (such as more than one PI on different indexes).
    • Add a Comment: Area designated for users to input comments related to the effort report.
  4. Explore the report's 6 columns.
    • Original Payroll %: Estimate of effort based on payroll distributions.
      • Percentages are systematically adjusted to reflect exceptions, such as the NIH Salary Cap.
    • Adjusted Payroll %: User can manually enter the effort percent dedicated to each activity.
    • Original Cost Sharing %: This column is not used by UCSD.
    • Adjusted Cost Sharing %: This column is not used by UCSD.
    • Original Total %: Estimated total effort % for each activity as generated by the ECERT system.
    • Adjusted Total %: This is the column being certified.
      • It reflects the amount in the Adjusted Payroll % column plus any amount in the Adjust Cost Sharing % column.
  5. Check the Payroll Details.
    • To view the lines of payroll used to generate the estimate percentages in the Original Payroll % column, click the View Payroll Details button.
  6. Navigate between 3 tabs.
    • Edit Report: Modify the current version of the report you're viewing.
    • View/ History: View previous version of the report.
    • Comment Log: View a compilation of previously saved comments.

Certifying an effort report

  1. Access the ECERT system.

    If you don't have a business systems account, contact your contact your Department Security Administrator (DSA) or self-register.

  2. Locate the effort report you want to certify.
    • Click the down arrow down arrow located at the top left of the screen, and choose the Manage Saved Searches option from the menu.
    • Select the desired search, then select the appropriate report.
  3. If the effort report requires one certification, certify the entire report.
    • Review the values in the Adjusted Payroll % column, then:
      • If you agree that the values are a reasonable reflection of the percent of time the employee allocated to each activity, click Certify Effort Report.
      • If you do not agree with the values in the Adjusted Payroll % column, or if you have any questions about the effort report, contact your fund manager or effort report preparer for corrections. Do not click Certify Effort Report.
  4. If the effort report requires multiple certifications, certify the project line(s) on the report.
    • Verify that the Report Requires Multiple Certifications checkbox is checked.
    • Review the values in the Adjusted Payroll % column, then:
      • If you agree that the value(s) are a reasonable reflection of the percent of time the employee allocated to your project activity:
        • Click the checkbox in the Line Certified column next to the appropriated Sponsored Project line(s).
        • Read the ERS Alert box, and click OK to certify.
        • Click Save.
      • If you do not agree with the value(s) in the Adjusted Payroll % column, or if you have any questions about the effort report, contact your fund manager or effort report preparer for corrections. Do not click any checkbox in the Line Certified column.
  5. Certify the next effort report.
    • After you complete certifying one effort report, the system will automatically display the next effort report. You can now choose one of the following options:
      1. Certify this report.
      2. Return to the MyProjects list, and click on the next employee's effort report to review and certify.
  6. Sign out of the ECERT system.
    • When you have completed your certifications, click Sign Out in the upper right corner of the screen.

Change a PI or fund manager at the active index level with COA overrides

PI and/or Fund Manager role changes to Effort Reports in the ECERT (Electronic Certification of Effort and Reporting Tool) system are processed in the CCM (Cost Center Management) system in FinancialLink/Tools by using the COA (Chart of Account) Override Maintenance.

COA Overrides, at the Index level, processed by departments are updated to ECERT on a monthly basis.  To ensure that PI and/or Fund Manager changes are loaded in the ECERT system, process no later than each month's Ledger Cutoff Date.

See a list of ledger cutoff dates at - http://blink.ucsd.edu/sponsor/BFS/divisions/general-accounting/ledger-dates.html

Editing an effort report

  1. Access the ECERT system.

    If you don't have a business systems account, contact your Department Security Administrator (DSA) or self-register.

  2. Locate the effort report you want to edit.
    • See Searching effort reports section for help.
  3. Adjust the payroll percentages.
    • If the values in the Original Payroll % column do not reasonably reflect the effort allocated to each activity, you can adjust the percentages.
      • Click in the corresponding box in the Adjusted Payroll % column.
      • Type the percentage you want, and click Update Calculation.
      • The Adjusted Total % column now reflects the new percentage.

    Note: If the adjusted total does not equal 100%, the "totals" display changes to red.

  4. Associate a sponsored project to an employee.
    • If payroll was not set up correctly, you may need to manually associate a sponsored project to an employee. To do this:
      • Click Add Additional Sponsored Projects. The Add Additional Projects window will pop up with a list of all the federal sponsored projects at UCSD.
      • Type in your search criteria, using any part of the project ID, project title, or PI name.
      • Click Filter. The screen will refresh, and your search results will appear.
      • To sort the search results by Project ID, Project Title, or PI, click on the appropriate column header.
      • To see IFOP information on a particular project, click the magnifying glass next to the project ID.
      • Locate the desired sponsored project in the list, and click Select to add the project to the effort report.
  5. Set the report to require multiple certifications.
    • If the effort report requires more than one person to certify:
      • Click in the checkbox next to Report requires multiple certifications in the Report Options section.
      • Click OK in the ERS Alert pop-up box
      • There is now a new column called Line Certified.
  6. Enter a comment.
    • When you make modifications to an effort report, you must enter a comment explaining the reason for the change.
      • Type your comment in the box provided.
      • Since this comment can not be edited or deleted once it's saved, confirm that it's correct, then click Save.
      • If more information is needed at a later time, you can add an additional comment.

Searching effort reports

  1. Access the ECERT system.

    If you don't have a business systems account, contact your Department Security Administrator (DSA) or self-register.

  2. Navigate to the Search Effort Reports page.
    • Click the down arrow down arrow located at the top left of the screen and select the Search Effort Reports option.
  3. Select the Display Reports tab to use as your search filter.
    • Click the tab that contains the filter you would like to use. The tabs filter by all or part of:
      • People
        • Person's name/ employee ID
        • Person's home department
        • Person is Principal Investigator (PI)
      • Departments
        • Home Department
        • Department name or number
      • Indexes
        • Index number
        • Index name
      • Awards
        • Fund manager employee ID
        • Award title
        • Sponsor award number
      • IFOP
        • Fund, Org, Index or Program
        • Fund title
  4. Search effort reports.
    • Enter the filter criteria for the tab you selected.
    • Click Update Filter.
    • View the search results in the Filter Results List on the lower left side of the screen.
  5. Save selected search results.
    • Click the appropriate result to transfer it to the Search Collection column on the right side of the screen.
      • Note: You may select multiple results.
    • Select Save As to name the search for future reference.

Viewing and managing saved searches

  1. Access the ECERT system.

    If you don't have a business systems account, contact your Department Security Administrator (DSA) or self-register.

  2. Navigate to the Manage Saved Search section.
    • Click the down arrow down arrow and choose the Manage Saved Search option.
  3. Edit, share, or delete saved searches.
    • To modify the search criteria related to a saved search, click the edit icon Edit icon.
    • To share a saved search collection with colleagues, click the share icon Share icon.
      • In the e-mail window, enter the recipients' e-mail addresses, and click Send.
      • The recipients receive an e-mail invitation to save your search to their the list of saved searches.
      • Once the recipients accept, the shared search will appear on their saved search list.
    • To delete a saved search, click the delete icon Delete icon.
  4. View a saved search.
    • To view the list of effort reports collected in a saved search, click the view icon View icon, or the name of the search.
    • You can tailor the search results by status.
      • Click the Show Status drop-down menu.
      • Choose the status you want to review from the list.
    • To tailor the search results by reporting period:
      • Check the Select radio button.
      • Click the Reporting Period drop-down menu.
      • Choose the reporting period you want to review from the list.
  5. Subscribe to a "MyProjects" list.
    • On the Manage Saved Searches page, click the Subscribe button at the bottom left corner of the screen.
    • Find the PI you want by:
      • Entering the PI's name, employee ID, or department code in the appropriate search criteria field
      • Click Update Filter. Your search results will appear.
    • Click on the appropriate column header to sort the results by PI Name, Home Department, or Home Department Code.
    • Navigate through the search results by using the buttons at the bottom of the displayed results.
    • Locate the PI whose list of MyProjects you want to view, and click Subscribe. That PI's MyProjects list will display in your saved searches list until you choose to delete it.
  6. Establish a default ECERT screen.
    • You can establish or change the default page that opens when you log in to ECERT by:
      • Going to the Manage Saved Searches page.
      • Clicking the radio button next to one of these options:
        • Display my default search as defined above opens with the particular search you mark as the default on the searches listed.
        • Display the Edit Search page opens on the Editing Search page.
        • Display the Manage Saved Searches opens to the list of saved searches.
        • Display the search results from my last session opens to the search you were viewing when you closed your last session.

Using the ECERT system

  • Access the ECERT system.

    If you don't have a business systems account, contact your Department Security Administrator (DSA) or self-register.

  • Navigate through the sections.
    • Click the down arrow down arrow at the top left of the screen to access these sections:
      • Effort Report List: Includes all effort reports that meet a specific search criteria.
      • Manage Saved Searches: Edit previously saved searches, subscribe to a default "MyProjects" search for a particular Principal Investigator (PI).
      • Search Effort Reports: Group effort reports by specific search criteria (e.g. home department, employee ID, index number), and save the grouping for future reference.
  • Navigate through search results.
    • Use the navigation arrows at the top and bottom of the displayed results to navigate through search results in the Effort Report List and Search Effort Reports sections.
  • Choose how many search results to display.
    • Use the drop-down box at the lower left of the search results to select the number of results to display per page.
  • Use the on-screen help.
    • For assistance with the page you're viewing, click the help Help icon in the menu bar.
    • From the pop-up screen, select the topic you need help with.
    • When you've finished with the help screen, click Close. The ECERT program remains open.
  • Sign out.
    • Click the Sign-Out link in the toolbar to log out of the ECERT system.

Training

  • The Office of Post Award Financial Services (OPAFS) partners with campus Departments/ORUs to facilitate Effort Reporting Best Practices & Process Improvements to help ensure timeliness and accuracy during the quarterly certification process of employees paid through federal or federal flow through research awards.  We assist the campus by: 
    • The next Effort Reporting: ECERT Hands-on Learning Experience will be scheduled at the ACT Training Room located at TPC/S (Torrey Pines Center South) Suite 400.

Frequently asked questions

Accessing ECERT

Q. How do I get access to ECERT?
A.
Departmental Security Administrators (DSA) assign access to the department business manager and anyone whom the business manager designates as preparer, (the person[s] who reviews reports before certifying them). Certifiers automatically have access. 

Q. I'm having problems logging in. What should I do?
A.
If you already have a Single Sign-On (SSO) account, contact the ACT Help Desk, (858) 534-1853. If you need a SSO account, contact your DSA or self-register.

Reviewing effort reports

Q. When do effort reports become available?
A.
ECERT generates reports every quarter. For more information, see the effort reports schedule.

Q. Can I share a saved ECERT search with another user?
A.
Yes. If you create a search, you are the owner of that search. If you make changes to the search, others granted access to the search will automatically see these changes. If you decide to make changes to a search shared with you, you will generate a private copy and will no longer be associated with the original shared search. Likewise, if you delete a search shared with you, other copies of the search will not be modified or deleted.

Q. When do reports require a comment?
A.
Reports require a comment for all changes. For more specific information, see Editing an Effort Report, step 6.

Q. What does the "Certified/ Adjustment Required" status mean?
A.
The Certified/ Adjustment Required designation indicates that a modification has been made to the Adjusted Payroll % column and the effort report has been certified. The effort report will have a status of Certified/ Adjustment Required which means a PET must match the Original Payroll distribution to the Adjusted Payroll %.

If the data matches the certification after it's processed, the PET status automatically changes to Certified, and no further action is necessary. If the data DOES NOT match the certification, the status changes to Open/ Reissued and notifies the PI to re-certify.

Q. Why do I get an error message when I subscribe to a PI?
A.
This occurs if the PI is new to the university, is adjunct faculty, or has been away on sabbatical. In order for you to subscribe to their "MyProjects" list, they need to log in once to the ECERT system with their Single Sign-On ID. (It may ask them to register with the last 5 digits of the SSN, employee ID number, and birth date.) Once they have done this, ECERT will be able identify them.

Q. Is there a documented "reasonableness" standard?
A.
UC-wide policy allows for a +/-5% tolerance threshold of reasonability for certification to be valid and authentic.

Q. Why is my PI seeing fewer reports than I do? Why does the status report show more Open reports than I can see?
A.
If what you see on your screen differs from someone else's screen, it's likely that your searches do not filter the same way. Verify that your search filters on the correct status and that you have selected the relevant reporting period(s).

Q. How can my department stay in compliance?
A.
Read recommendations for implementation, review, and compliance with effort reporting in the ECERT Best practices section.

Q. Is it necessary for departments to retain printed copies of effort reports for faculty?
A.
Because ECERT tracks all certifications electronically and PIs can access the information any time, there is no need to print the reports. ECERT serves as the official database of record. You can, however, print reports by clicking the Print Report button.

Certifying effort reports

Q. Who certifies efforts? What if an employee gets paid on grants outside of my organization?
A.
Certifiers must have first-hand knowledge of the effort expended. Normally, an employee or a supervisor can certify his/ her own effort. The PI ultimately takes responsibility for all effort certification. Non-academics can't certify for academics.

Occasionally, multiple certifications are required if the employee works on multiple projects, has multiple supervisors, and doesn't know which projects their effort benefits. ECERT supports multiple certifications with a check box at the bottom of the effort report. When you activate this function, individual line certification becomes available.

Q. What happens if I don't certify my effort report?
A.
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.

Our ECERT system requires a comment whenever our PIs Certify Effort Reports after the certification deadline. (Certifications are due within 120 days after the end of each quarter.)  See an example ECERT Certify ERS Report - Comment Required (PDF) and Effort Reporting Best Practices for more information related to managing certifications.

Effort reports that remain uncertified past the deadline will be escalated for review and appropriate consequences will be rendered. The university requires all effort to be certified within 120 days after the end of the reporting period (e.g., for the Jan-Mar quarter, reports will be due 120 days after March 31).

Q. What if my PI left the University?
A.
Certifiers must have first-hand knowledge of the effort expended. PI changes to Effort Reports in the ECERT (Electronic Certification of Effort and Reporting Tool) system are processed in the CCM (Cost Center Management) system in FinancialLink/Tools by using the COA (Chart of Account) Override Maintenance. To process a COA Override see the Change a PI or fund manager section. Non-academics can't certify for academics.

Q. What happens when effort changes during the project period?
A.
If significant effort changes occur, department administrators should update the payroll distributions in a timely manner to reflect the actual effort expended in support of the sponsored project.

Need help?

For questions that can't be answered by your department's ECERT Coordinator, contact the BFSupport (login required):

  • Add additional employees to the database
  • Edit the Cannot Certify list
  • Update the employee PI indicator
  • Update effort report status
  • Please contact your Department's DSA/ECERT User Administrator to create permission and roles

Announcements

PI Requirement for Effort Reports Certified After the Certification Deadline

Our ECERT system requires a comment whenever our PIs Certify Effort Reports after the certification deadline. Certifications are due within 120 days after the end of each reporting period. See Best Practices for more information related to managing certifications.

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