Research Administration > EFM > Effort Reporting > ERS Frequently Asked Questions

1. Why does an effort report status appear as Certified/AdjustReqd?


A Certified/AdjustReqd status occurs when an effort report is certified and the Payroll % and Paid Effort % to Certify columns do not match.


If the Paid Effort % to Certify reflects the correct figures and it doesn't match with the Payroll %, the effort report can be certified but it will show a status of Certified/AdjustReqd. In this case, payroll transfers should be submitted to make them match. Once the payroll transfer is processed and a “late pay” is issued (during 1 of the 3 payroll cycles) and picked up by ERS, the report's status should change to “Certified.” If the payroll transfer was processed correctly and the Payroll % still does not reflect the correct figures, contact ERS Support for assistance.

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2. How do I get an effort report certified if the PI or employee no longer works for the University?


When a PI terminates his/her appointment before certifying his/her staff's effort reports, we recommend one of the following actions:


  1. If the PI is still affiliated with UCLA and has access to ERS, please have him/her logon to the system and certify his/her reports. Bear in mind that if they are accessing the system from off-campus, they will first need to logon to the UCLA network via VPN. Step-by-step VPN instructions and screenshots can be found at: Once they are connected to the UCLA network, then they can access the ERS site.
  2. If the PI no longer has access to ERS, you may send them a copy of the effort report requiring certification and have them reply with their certification. To do so, you may either use the “Send” function in the system (navigate to the desired report and click the “Send” button on the top right hand) or take a screenshot of the report and paste it in an email to them. In their response, they should verify/confirm the effort in the attached report is correct, or state what the correct effort should be, if any changes are required. (This email should be kept on file in your department as back-up documentation). Upon receiving the PI's “manual” certification, someone in your department, preferably the department chair or someone closely-related to the project, should log into the system and electronically certify the report on the PI's behalf. He/she should also provide an explanation in the “Comments” field that the PI has left the university but has manually certified via an email/letter that is on file with the department.
  3. If the PI is no longer reachable and option 1 and 2 above are not feasible, then the last option is to have someone here at UCLA with first-hand knowledge of the project and the effort worked to certify the effort reports. As with option 2, the individual certifying the report on behalf of the PI should provide an explanation in the “Comments” field, indicating that the PI is unavailable and that the person certifying on his behalf has first-hand knowledge of the PI's or employee's effort.

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3. What does an Exception status mean and how to address it?


This status is often triggered when an effort report does not total 100%. An effort report that totals less than 100% is usually caused by unrecognized earnings. To see if a report has unrecognized earnings, select the “View Payroll Detail” option on the effort report. Typically, unrecognized earnings are payroll transactions that contain an account number or full accounting unit (FAU) that has not been defined in ERS. When ERS cannot identify a FAU on a payroll transaction, it cannot include the earnings in the effort report calculation because the system cannot properly categorize the earnings as belonging to a sponsored project or not.


Another situation when an effort report will have an Exception status is when a FAU on the report's total is a negative percent. This usually means a credit has been processed and there has been no debit to offset it. To fix this issue a payroll adjustment needs to be processed.


However, there are other situations that can cause an effort report to go into an Exception status. In any case, a report with an Exception status cannot be ignored and requires some action. If you are having trouble certifying one of these reports, please contact ERS Support for assistance.

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4. Why can't the PI access/view the effort reports for his projects?


When a PI cannot access/view an employee's effort report it is usually because he/she is not set up as the Managing Investigator on the Account/CC table in OASIS. In other words, if an employee's effort on a Sponsored Project was paid from an Account/CC for which the PI is designated as the Managing Investigator, his/her reports will appear in the PI's list. If the PI is not linked as the Managing Investigator, please contact General Accounting (use the Ask Accounting link) for further assistance.

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5. What to do when an employee transfers to another department with effort reports that was not certified?


When an employee transfers to another department all their effort reports from prior quarters will follow and appear on the new department's effort report list. If the employee's past effort reports were not certified, the old department should run an Account Department search in ERS to ensure that all the effort reports are captured for certification. If problems arise, and the effort reports are not viewable or the new department is unable to contact the old department's coordinator, please contact ERS Support for assistance.


Note: An active employee should always have access to their effort reports. The PI or Co-I should have access as well if he/she is linked as the Managing Investigator in Account/CC table in OASIS.

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6. What happens to reports with a rounded total of 99% or 101%?


When a report is generated and it's rounded total equals 99% or 101%, the system will add or remove a percent from the first FAU on the effort report. As a result, the report's total will be 100%. This also happens after payroll transfers are processed.


Example: A report has three FAU's at 33.33% each. The true rounded total would be 99%. Since effort has to be 100% for certification, the system will add a percent to the top FAU making it 34%. Subsequently, the report total will equal 100%.


When a report's true total is 101%, the system will remove a percent from the top FAU to make the report total 100%.


However, the system will not use this rounding methodology when there are unrecognized earnings.

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7. How does the 5% tolerance work?


OMB Circular A-21, Section J-10, Payroll Distribution, General Principles, (c) states:


In the use of any methods for apportioning salaries, it is recognized that, in an academic setting, teaching, research, service, and administration are often inextricably intermingled. A precise assessment of factors that contribute to costs is not always feasible, nor is it expected. Reliance, therefore, is placed on estimates in which a degree of tolerance is appropriate.


At UCLA we have set the tolerance at ±5% of what is on the effort report. Although University policy allows for a 5% tolerance, we have to abide by the sponsor's policies and/or the award documents. If there are restrictions on the salaries/effort going over or under the budgeted amount, you should abide by those restrictions if it reasonably reflects the individuals effort. Then submit payroll transfers to reflect the correct figures if necessary.


If the sponsor is flexible and there are no restrictions on the budgeted salary/effort changing, you do not need to adjust the report if it is within ±5% of what your adjustment was going to be.


However, the tolerance does not apply when the exact effort is known. If the exact effort is known it should be reported accurately and the individual should be paid accordingly.

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8. How does the 1% system tolerance work?


The 1% tolerance only takes effect when a LatePay (payroll expense transfer) is processed for effort reports with a status of Certified or Certified/AdjustReqd. The 1% system tolerance is different from the 5% tolerance. The 5% tolerance is a UCLA policy based tolerance which is in reference to how an individual's salary is distributed. The 1% tolerance is a system based tolerance that allows certain reports to change to or maintain their Certified status after payroll transactions have been processed.


If an effort report's status is Certified or Certified/AdjustReqd and a LatePay is processed that causes the Payroll % and Paid Effort % to Certify to be off by 1% on any given FAU, the report will change to or remain Certified.


The 1% tolerance will help departments expedite their effort report certifications. When a payroll transaction has been submitted, the departmental ERS personnel can put the projected figures into ERS and have the report certified before the payroll transaction appears in the financial system. The effort report will not have to be re-certified if the figures are off by 1% due to rounding because the 1% tolerance will take effect and the report will show a status of “Certified.” However, if the figures are off by more than 1%, the effort report will re-open and will need to be re-certified.

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9. What to do if an employee paid with federal funding received retroactive pay?


If an employee’s salary is charged to a federal or federal flow-thru project for a past payroll period (retroactively), a new effort report will generate during the next pay compute cycle for the retroactive salary. When this occurs, the department should access ERS following the pay compute to confirm that an effort report was generated for the employee, verify the percentage, and have the effort report certified. If a report is not generated, contact the ERS help desk for assistance.

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10. How do we report effort for a PI without salary?


If a PI worked on a federal project “without” salary, an effort report will not be automatically generated in ERS. Contact your department coordinator for help or ERS Support to generate a report for the quarter. Once a report has been produced, we will notify you. Upon notification, you will need to enter the percent of effort in the “Paid Effort % to Certify [B]” column, add a statement in the comment box, and click save. Notify the PI so they may certify the report.

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