Effort Commitments and Payroll Certification
No-Cost Extension Request Procedures
Extramural Support Policies and Procedures
Research Education Development (RED)
Page Updated: May 13, 2021
The Office of Research and Sponsored Programs (RSP) is the only office legally authorized to accept awards and agreements for sponsored programs on behalf of researchers at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. Any document requiring an official signature must be signed by an authorized representative located in RSP. Accepting awards is the function carried out by the Awards and Contracts teams in RSP. Regardless of which team in RSP handles the acceptance of an award, all awards are set-up by the RSP Awards Team. In order for a research team (PI, grant administrator, researchers) to begin spending on a sponsored award, certain steps must be taken in order to set up the account or authorize pre-award spending. Intended for administrators, this section covers the items needed and actions taken for sponsored project account set-up.
The Award Acceptance & Set-up team generally operates on a first-in, first-out basis for setting up new awards and processing modifications. However, priority may be given to awards that require immediate attention to meet deadlines, like the monthly payroll calculation. It's the goal of the Award Acceptance & Set-up team to have awards set-up in as little time as possible, but also in the most compliant manner.
Award set-up will be delayed for outstanding compliance items, many of which are explained in the following sections. The set-up of an award may also be delayed in times of peak activity or with unexpected absences. The current average number of calendar days from receipt of a new award notice to the generation of an account in SFS is 9.9 days.
If you have questions regarding the status of an award, please contact the SPO owner of the WISPER record or anyone on the RSP Award Acceptance & Set-up team.
What is Effort and why do we need to track it?
An effort commitment is the portion of time committed to a particular activity expressed as a percentage of the individual's total activity for the institution. The level of committed effort proposed for a project should reflect the percent of time and effort required to meet the goals of the project. Most awards that we receive will require an effort commitment. Effort Reporting (also known as "Effort Certification") is our means of providing assurance to sponsors that:
What do I need to do?
In the "Effort Commitment" section of the WISPER record, the names of all key personnel listed in the Notice of Award should be entered, along with their project role, commitment date ranges, and sponsor (paid) or cost-shared effort percentage.
In the 'Effort Commitment' Section of the Projects tab, we will only be capturing commitments for individuals listed in the Notice of Award, regardless of the sponsor.
Couple things to Note:
In the record under the Projects Tab, you will need to input:
In the 'Cost Share' section of the Projects tab, we need to capture all committed salary cost share. Salary Cost Share occurs on a sponsored project when the University, not the sponsor, provides salary support for an individual's time on that sponsored project.
All salary cost sharing commitments as made in the proposal, regardless of who is listed on the Notice of Award, need to be entered into the 'Cost Share' section of the projects tab. You will need to input:
In the budget and budget justification, commitments will typically be listed in either:
These months will need to be converted to a percentage for the Effort Section of the WISPER record.
You may receive an error message in WISPER when trying to approve a record, indicating that a key person listed on the record is overcommitted. This means that:
Commitments can NEVER total more than 100%. If a key person is over 100% when adding the new commitment to their existing workload, adjustments will need to be made, and the effort commitment on one or more projects will need to be reduced. You should work with your Effort Coordinator and key person to determine what projects need to be adjusted, and if the reduction needs sponsor approval first.
The COI Program protects employees and the institution by identifying and preventing conflicts that might exist between an employee's personal interests and their public responsibilities to the University. Relationships with businesses and industries may result in the University's faculty and staff receiving financial gains from their roles in the industry - sponsored research, technology transfer, and entrepreneurship. To ensure that research is free from bias, the University is responsible for managing interactions that create potential conflicts of interest, by identifying outside financial interests disclosed in an ANNUAL electronically-submitted " Outside Activities Report." This applies to all key personnel and any individual engaged in federally funded research.
**Furthermore, if the specific awarding agency is a Public Health Service (PHS) agency, or another non-PHS agency that elects to use PHS regulations, additional COI activities are required for new awards. A member of the RSP award team will submit the WISPER Record to the FAST system (FCOI Award Setup Tool). If the key personnel have not submitted an updated OAR within 30 days prior to receiving an award notice, they will need to do so. Even though not all of these individuals may require effort commitment tracking, EVERY key person needs to be reviewed in the FAST system on PHS awards. The purpose of the FAST system is to:
If any potential conflicts are identified through this process, RSP reports them to the sponsor with assurance that a Management Plan is in place. This is done when RSP either submits the reports via eRA Commons, or sends an email with the FCOI information to the designated sponsor contact.
**Note: If a new key person is being added in the middle of an award funded by a PHS agency (or PHS-Reg following agency), they will need to submit an updated OAR and be reviewed in the FAST system.
All sponsored projects with a 'yes' on compliance question #2 located on the general tab of the WISPER record will require an approved Institutional Review Board (IRB) protocol in order to setup an award.
The Human Research Protection Program (HRPP) provides oversight for all research activities involving human participants at the University of Wisconsin–Madison. The HRPP is not an office, but rather a collective effort of all who participate in the conduct, review, approval and facilitation of human subjects research at UW-Madison. UW-Madison has three IRB offices who are charged with reviewing human subject research. The IRB reviews all human research protocols in accordance with federal regulations, state laws, and local and University policies.
To complete an award set-up that includes the use of human subjects RSP will need a valid protocol to appear in PLuS and the entry will need to list the current award as a funding source.
To obtain IRB protocol approval the PI will need to submit an application to the appropriate IRB office via ARROW. ARROW is the online system for preparing, submitting, reviewing, and managing applications for research oversight (protocol) at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. To find out more about starting an application in the ARROW system, click here. If you have questions, you are encouraged to contact your IRB office for additional information.
There may be times when an award has been received but the IRB protocol has not been approved yet do to the human subjects research not being conducted until later in the study. RSP will still require approval from the IRB to set-up the award. However full IRB approval may not be necessary and a PDA may be issued in place of full approval.
The Protocol Development Activities process is to facilitate the submission of grant application to the IRB for review when 1) research activities involving human subjects are planned for the future but have not been finalized; 2) when an agency or organization requires IRB approval of the concept as part of the application for funding.
In order to obtain approval to perform research activities involving human subjects, a separate Initial Review Application or Application for Exemption from IRB review will be required. For more guidance, please see the IRB PDA guidance web page.
RSP will use PLuS to confirm that a PDA has been approved for a specific project. If PLuS has not yet been updated, RSP will also accept signed documentation from the IRB stating the PDA has been approved for a specific project. When you receive a PDA please attach a copy to the WISPER record.
Occasionally at UW Madison may be approved to use another institutions IRB to review a human subject protocol. When one institution agrees to use another institution's IRB to review a human subject protocol, this is known as ceding of IRB review, IRB reliance or deferred IRB review. Use of IRB reliance is not limited to clinical studies, but may be employed for IRB review of any human subjects protocol, so long as the Institutional Official at each institution agrees that IRB reliance is appropriate.
If the PI of the study indicates that they would like to use another institutions IRB for review of a protocol, RSP will still require specific documentation for award set-up. For specifics on this process please see the IRB's webpage.
Once all necessary documentation has been uploaded to the WISPER record RSP will move forward with award set-up.
All sponsored projects with a 'yes' on compliance question #1 located on the general tab of the WISPER record will need an approved Biological Safety protocol in order to setup an award. If you’re unsure if a project needs an OBS protocol please see the OBS webpage for further guidance.
The UW-Madison Office of Biological Safety (OBS) assists all faculty and staff in observing safe laboratory practices for biological materials as prescribed by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the National Institutes of Health (NIH), and endeavors to assure that research is done in secure facilities in compliance with all local, state, and federal regulations. The OBS is the administrative office of the Institutional Biosafety Committee (IBC).
All sponsored projects with a 'yes' on compliance question #1 located on the general tab of the WISPER record will need an approved Biological Safety protocol in order to setup an award. RSP will not release funds until OBS approval has been documented. Detailed information regarding how to obtain an OBS protocol can be found on the OBS website along with FAQs that should help you through the process.
RSP will use PLuS to confirm that an OBS protocol has been approved for a specific project. If the protocol has not yet been updated in PLuS, RSP will also accept signed documentation from the OBS stating that a protocol has been approved for a specific project.
RSP will review the WISPER compliance questions identify if an animal use protocol is needed. If the third compliance question "use of vertebrate animals?"" is answered as 'yes' RSP will require an approved protocol before an award can be set-up. The Institutional Animal Care and Use Committee (IACUC) is charged to oversee the use of vertebrate animals in research and to ensure that care and use of the animals is ethical and humane.
If the third compliance question, "use of vertebrate animals," is answered as 'yes' RSP will require an approved protocol before an award can be set-up. For more information on submitting and obtaining animal use protocol approval, please click here.
To complete an award set-up that includes the use of animals RSP will need a valid protocol to appear in the PLUS system and the entry will need to list the current award as a funding source.
Note: If your award is funded by the NSF or NIH and includes animal research please see the "IACUC Congruence" section.
As per the Public Health Service (PHS) Policy and NIH Grants Policy Statement, grantee organizations must establish appropriate policies and procedures to ensure the humane care and use of animals for PHS funded projects. Additionally, NIH Notice Number NOT-OD-15-139 announced an establishment of an MOU Between OLAW/OER/OD/NIH and NSF. This new agreement, effective October 1st, 2015, necessitates revisions in how UW-Madison handles NSF projects using vertebrate animals.
As part of the PHS and NSF funded award, it is an institutional responsibility to ensure that the animal activities proposed in a grant are congruent with corresponding protocols approved by the IACUC. PHS and NSF Policy requires institutions to verify that the IACUC has reviewed and approved those components of grant applications and contract proposals related to the care and use of animals. Institutions are responsible for ensuring that the information the IACUC reviews and approves is congruent with what is in the application/proposal.
All sponsored projects funded by the NSF or NIH with a 'yes' on compliance question #3 located on the general tab of the WISPER record will need a congruent, approved IACUC protocol in order to setup an award. RSP will not release funds until congruence has been documented. If the grant and protocol are not congruent, RARC will notify and work with the PI to facilitate congruence and obtain IACUC approval in the most expedient manner possible.
Detailed information regarding the animal protocol and proposal congruence review can be found on the RARC website along with FAQs that should help you through the process. For NSF proposals and awards, a detailed process can be found here: NSF IACUC Congruence
RSP will use PLuS to confirm that a protocol is approved and congruent. If the protocol has not yet been updated in PLuS, RSP will also accept signed documentation from the RARC stating that congruency has been established.
All sponsored projects with a 'yes' on compliance question #4 located on the general tab of the WISPER record will need an approved stem cell use protocol in order to setup an award.
The Stem Cell Research Oversight (SCRO) Committee provides oversight for all research on campus or involving campus faculty or staff that involves either:
A Principal Investigator (PI) conducting research on either of the above must have SCRO approval in place prior to beginning research. The SCRO Committee is fully transitioned to ARROW, the online protocol application system. All initial review, change of protocol, and continuing review applications must be submitted for review through ARROW. For more information please see the SCRO webpage.
RSP will use PLuS to confirm that a protocol is approved for a specific study. If the protocol has not yet been updated in PLuS, RSP will also accept signed documentation from SCRO stating that the protocol has been approved for a specific study.
To help UW-Madison manage sponsored project funds, the Shared Financial System contains a list of terms to provide supplementary information for awards. The intent is for the terms to be used as an aid in award management, although their inclusion is not a substitute for familiarity with the award document itself. Terms are selected to highlight certain conditions that govern agreements.
RSP Pre-Award staff enters items into the WISPER "Terms" tab at the time of award. When a new award is generated, the terms information flows into "Terms" tab of the Grants/Awards module. The Notice of Action Taken e-mail, which is automatically generated and e-mailed to the PI/Dean/Departmental contacts when the award set-up process is complete, contains the terms that have been selected. Information also appears in the WISDM "Requirements" tab and is accessible to all campus users. Campus users should contact the RSP Awards Team if an important term is missing or requires amendment.
Facilities & Administrative Costs are actual costs incurred by the University in support of extramural activities, but cannot be charged to a specific grant or contract. Examples include RSP services, libraries, utilities, building and equipment depreciation, and other administrative functions. They are also known as "indirect costs."
The federal government recognizes that these costs to participate in research, including expenses that are shared across all sponsored programs, cannot be allocated to one specific project. To ensure these costs are captured in the project budget, F&A is included in the budget as a percentage of the project's direct costs.
Applicable F&A rates can be found on the Rates page.
Typically, the F&A rate in the proposal will remain in effect for the entire award. However, there are circumstances where an older rate is being used, but the current rate needs to be applied:
The Projects Tab is the area in WISPER that is used to collect award specific information dung the award set-up process. This section will cover the projects tab in depth and will cover the specific information that will need to be entered into the projects tab for award set-up.
Please Note: If you are unsure about what to enter in the Projects Tab of WISPER, please feel free to leave that item blank. RSP staff will double check, and make any corrections needed, before an award is set-up.
When you first navigate to the projects tab, you will land on the Projects Tab general page. On this page you will need to enter the following award specific information:
The project detail page is where you can enter specific project based information at the time of award set-up. All awards require a minimum of one project and the first project is already created and accessible via the Project Description hyperlink. If multiple projects are required, add them via the Add Project button. Additional projects may be required or helpful if:
Click the Project Description hyperlink to open the Project Details page where further information can be entered.
The top portion of the Project Details page is the Project Header and is used to capture demographic information about each project. The Description, PI, Owning Department, Start/end dates, and F&A rate default from the WISPER General page. Any of this information may be changed for the project at this time. Enter the following information:
In this section users provide the details for account codes will be allowable on the project. Multiple departments can be entered by clicking the “Add Combo Edit Department” button. To specify an entire department (4 digit) or division (2 digit), use Combo Edit Dept Nodes. The decision on whether to add a project to manage different department access to spending or whether to provide them access via expansion of edits is one of department preference.
The appropriate program code can be selected from the dropdown. Multiple program codes can be entered by clicking the “Add Program Code” button. Program code list can be found here.
The level of budget detail requested is driven by the Sponsor & the Document Type of the WISPER record. Budget items may be recorded at the summary level (Direct and F&A), at the category level, or using the NIH Training Grant categories. Enter the breakout of the costs for the project using the Budget Amount fields at the breakout level required. If the award requires multiple projects, be sure that the budgets for all projects add up to the total Award Costs on the Projects tab.
In the "Effort Commitment" section of the WISPER record, the names of all personnel listed in the Notice of Award (NoA) should be entered, along with commitment date ranges, and sponsor (paid) or cost-shared effort percentage.
If no individuals are identified in the award, then a commitment will be entered for the PI only. If the PI does not have a measurable commitment identified in the proposal 1% will be entered. All PI’s must have a minimum 1% commitment on a project in the award (except for clinical trials, student support such as fellowships or doctoral dissertation support, construction or equipment grants).
Please Note: The Effort Commitment Section should only contain those individuals who are listed on the NoA. It's likely that not all of the individuals listed in the Senior Personnel Section above will be listed in the effort commitment section.
In the “Cost Share” section enter the details for all personnel who are on the NoA, but do not have their salary reimbursed on the award are captured in this section. In addition, any mandatory cost sharing of individuals who are not key personnel must also be entered here. This information will be used both to report financial information to Sponsors and to assist in Effort Reporting.
Detailed information on these topics can be found under the Effort Commitment Tracking section of this webpage.
If a PI needs access to funding for a project prior to receipt of the official notice of grant award, an Advance Account may be created to allow the posting of charges to an account. The Principal Investigator's School/College/Division assumes responsibility for all charges allocated on an account in advance award status if the award is not finalized or accepted. Please see Advance Award Request Guidance for details on ADV AWD purpose, intent and use. Departments and PI’s may request an advance account via WISPER. The WISPER Desk Reference walks through the process for making the request via an approval request to the division using the "Request advance award setup" approval type and then the appropriate divisional authority approving the request and notifying RSP via the Division Action page in WISPER.
Note: All compliance items will need to be addressed prior to an advance account being created including FCOI, Animal, Human, Biosafety and HESC compliance protocols and Effort Commitments.
The PI or departmental research administrator should login to WISPER and on the Approvals tab select the "request Advance Award" approval from the drop down. Note that each division may require additional justification, attachments or information in order to process this request. Please contact your Divisional Research Contact for assistance with this request. Once the division has approved the advance account request they can request the advance award set-up of RSP by selecting the "Request Advance Account of SPO" button on the division action tab in WISPER. A page will open to verify this request. Click "Process Record" to proceed. The record has been submitted to the current RSP owner for processing. Award and Project information will be reported to you via email.
Chapter 230.047, Wis. Stats., authorizes state agencies and the University of Wisconsin System to participate in the temporary interchange of employees between and among government agencies at the same or different levels of government and with institutions of higher education. Typical interchanges involving the University of Wisconsin-Madison are with other state agencies, federal agencies, other government agencies such as school districts, and other universities outside the University of Wisconsin System.
The purpose of an IPA is to allow an individual to remain on UW payroll and benefits while providing service to a government agency. Academic employees and departments should work directly with the funding agency and RSP to draft IPA agreements. Typically the funding agency has a standard IPA agreement that is sent to the Department/PI and a WISPER record is created after the IPA agreement is received.
As with all other Sponsored Projects, we only capture effort for individuals identified as Key Personnel on the award. Department Personnel will make the determination and enter effort on the projects tab in WISPER only for Key Individuals.
The PI on the WISPER record does not need a minimum 1% commitment unless that individual has a quantifiable effort commitment.
Occasionally, visitors (e.g., students, academics, scientists) come to UW under a visiting or exchange opportunity. Such an arrangement carries with it the general purpose of educating the person and is with an educational or higher education institution. Some institutions (often international institutions) provide “bench fees” or support in the form of a check payable to UW-Madison. This is provided without application by the UW and is provided to support costs such as consumable materials, travel, and related costs associated with the visitor’s opportunity at the UW.
Any support deemed as bench fees which are provided by industry/for-profit-sponsors will be handled as a grant/contract (restricted) arrangement, terms dependent upon application and negotiated agreement with the sponsor.
The Set-up Process for CTAs effective November 2017
Participant support costs are costs to support individuals who are receiving a training opportunity as part of a workshop, conference, seminar, symposium or other short-term instructional or information sharing activity funded by a sponsored award. Participant support costs are direct costs for items such as stipends or subsistence allowances, travel allowances, and registrations fees paid to or on behalf of participants or trainees (but not employees) in connection with conferences, or training projects.
A participant does not perform work or service for the project or program. The participant is not required to deliver anything or provide any service to the university in return for these support costs.
Participant support costs are typically incurred for projects that include an education or outreach component. These types of costs are most commonly included in National Science Foundation (NSF) grants, such as the Research Experience for Undergraduates (REU) or Research Experiences for Teachers (RET) program. NIH indicates that participant support costs are allowable only if specified in the Funding Opportunity Announcement.
For more information on what can and cannot be included as participant support costs, click here: Participant Support Costs Guidance
Funds provided for participant support costs that are not spent cannot be rebudgeted for use in other categories unless prior written approval has been obtained from the sponsor.
Participant support costs are budgeted in a separate category in the application budget and must be accounted for separately. Participant support costs are excluded from the MTDC base when calculating F&A costs. RSP requires a separate project under the award to isolate participant support costs and to ensure that F&A is not applied against these costs. If possible, this additional project should be added to the Projects Tab in WISPER before the award is generated. Click the “Add Project” button on the Projects Tab to create the additional project.
Creation of a new project depends on the terms/requirements of the Award For example, if there is a restriction on carryover funds or if a new F&A rate is applied for the next period, a new project number will be created. A new project or award ID may also need to be created if a the sponsor issues a new subaward agreement for subsequent years of a continuing award, as opposed to issuing an amendment.
Yes. We need to verify that if the funds are released, we have the protocols in place to cover any work that is done with the funds. We will accept a PDA (protocol development activity) if IRB approval has not been obtained and human subjects work has not started. For more information on advance accounts, see above on the advance account segment.
No. Proof of submission is not the same thing as an approval. RSP either needs the change to be visible in PLUS, or documentation linking the award to the protocol, such as an email from an IRB/IACUC representative, a congruence review letter, a biosafety letter, etc. Please upload any documentation to the WISPER record.
This contact list is managed by your Dean's Office. Please contact them to be added.
It’s possible RSP is still waiting on outstanding information from the department or Sponsor. Before reaching out to RSP, please review the SPO Action Tab/notes and Approvals to ensure no outstanding items are needed or we are awaiting sponsor action.
This field helps RSP more quickly locate and review records/agreements which are relevant to the current record. The MSN of related records should be added if the current record:
Unless otherwise notified, sponsors expect PIs (and other key personnel named in the award document) to provide the level of effort outlined in the proposal, even when the amount funded is less than requested or the initial budget period is shortened. To determine the correct baseline effort commitment, the first year’s entry in WISPER will be different than subsequent years. For example, if one committed 2 months effort and the initial budget period is reduced from 12 months to 9 months the new effort commitment percentage is 22% (= 2 months/9 months) vs. 16.7% (= 2 months/12 months). 22.22% should be entered in WISPER for the first budget period and 16.67% for all subsequent periods. This establishes the baseline commitment of 2 person months.
If at time of award, the awarded budget is reduced from the proposed budget, a PI must confirm how the project will be conducted and how funding will be allocated among budget categories, including confirmation of effort commitments and associated salary support. In doing so, PIs should carefully and deliberately manage their own (and their key personnel's) total sponsored and non-sponsored effort commitments and minimize voluntary cost sharing. A budget reduction of 25% or more from what was proposed generally indicates a project scope reduction, and a corresponding reduction in effort commitments is appropriate.
The PI is responsible for determining whether:
For additional information, see the Effort Guidance document, specifically section 1.3.5.
For questions on any of the topics listed, please feel free to contact the specific Awards Team member who is facilitating the set-up of your award.
For more information about what the Awards Team does, click here.
Awards Team Manager
Grant & Contract Specialist
Grant & Contract Specialist
Grant & Contract Specialist