Understanding Effort and ERS

What is ERS?

ERS is an acronym for Effort Reporting System. This system provides a means for the University to distribute paperless effort forms via the web to its employees who are required to certify their effort in accordance with university and federal policies. This system replaces the University’s Personnel Activity Reports (PAR forms).

How does ERS update email addresses?

JHED email addresses is used to update ERS email addresses, ERS is updated every Friday with the email address in JHED designated as the primary email address.

How do I get an e-mail alias?

Log into JHED and in your myJHU page, you will see a link to “JH E-Mail Alias Admin”. Click this to open the utility.

Please read the policy displayed explaining e-mail aliases at Johns Hopkins and click the Accept button if you agree and wish to continue.

If you are primarily affiliated with the university, your email alias can be @jhu.edu or @jhmi.edu. If you are primarily affiliated with the hospital or one of the health systems, your alias can only be @jhmi.edu.

If you are university affiliated: Your primary email address as listed in the directory will be displayed. You will then be able to select up to three aliases that you can link to your email account. You will need to select which alias will serve as your primary alias.

If you are hospital affiliated: Your primary email address as listed in the directory will be displayed. Your primary alias will be your [email protected] or email account [email protected]. You will have the ability to add in two more aliases, but will be unable to change your primary alias.

Once you have completed the alias selection, there will be a 15-minute update time to the directory servers in order to activate your new alias(es). You may then begin to use the new alias and tell others to use it as well.

How do I change my ERS password?

JHED ID’s and JHED passwords are used to access ERS. ERS passwords are not changed through ERS. You must update your password through JHED.

Once you have successfully logged into JHED, click on the Update Password tab at the top of your screen. You will be required to enter in your old password, the new password and then re-type the new password to verify it. A password must be between 6 and 8 characters long and must contain at least one numeric character.

What is Effort and Effort Reporting?

Effort is the proportion of time spent on any activity and expressed as a percentage of the total professional activity for which an individual is employed by JHU. Effort reporting is a means of verifying that:

  • Effort supported (paid) by the project has been performed as promised, and
  • Effort expended in support of a project but not paid by the project has been performed as promised.

The effort report documents the proportion of work time devoted to sponsored projects, teaching, clinical practice, and other activities expressed as percentage of total employed time. It is important to consider that effort is not calculated on a 40-hour work week or other University approved standard work week. If an investigator works 80 hours in a week, 40 hours represents 50% effort. The total time employed constitutes 100% effort. For example, for a graduate student who is employed for only 10 hours by JHU, the 10 hours represents 100% effort.

Payroll and effort distributions are not the same thing; payroll distributions describe the allocation of an individual salary, while effort distributions describe the allocation of an individual’s activity to individual projects “independent of salary.” JHU’s effort reporting process relies on payroll distributions to provide a general reminder of the projects on which an individual’s salary was charged during the certification period. Individuals completing effort reports are required to identify other areas where they provided effort with no salary support and to ultimately report the appropriate distribution of effort over all activities.

The completed effort report should reflect all activities conducted under the terms of your employment by JHU. Outside consulting, stipend payments, and bonus payments are not included under JHU employment. Effort is expressed as a percentage of total employed time and is not reflected in hours. The total effort expended cannot be more than – or less than – 100%.

The actual effort distribution of employees should reflect the percentage of actual time spent on the individual’s various activities, broken down into sponsored effort. Non-sponsored effort include the following activities:

Departmental and University Administration and Support Services Unless they are directly related to sponsored projects which provided salary support.

  • Assistance to department chairman in administrative matters
  • Participation in departmental and school planning committee
  • Maintenance of various departmental records
  • Participation in the preparation of the departmental budget
  • Committee on Human Subjects (Human Volunteers)
  • Radiation safety committee
  • Laboratory safety
  • Biohazards safety committee
  • Institutional research grants projects committee
  • Academic Council participation
  • Supervision and guidance of administrative personnel
  • Planning for facilities
  • Recruiting and interviewing departmental personnel
  • Promotion Committee
  • Departmental liaison with the Library
  • Committee reviewing patent policy
  • Reviewing purchase orders
  • Preparation of bid and proposal requests on potential new government and non-government projects, including estimation and development of scientific data necessary to support proposals. Preparation of proposals other than those related to the noncompetitive renewal of those projects which provided salary support to me during this period.

Instruction/University Supported Academic Activity

  • Classroom teaching, independent study courses and training students. Whether the course is offered for credits toward a degree or certificate or on a non-credit basis, and whether they are offered through regular academic departments or separate divisions, such as a summer school division or an extension division .
  • Preparing for classes
  • Mentoring/Counseling graduate/undergraduate students other than those whose research is related to the grants and contracts that support my salary

Clinical Activity

  • Direct treatment of clinical patients
  • Teaching or supervising clinical personnel, residents, and interns
  • Administrative and support services that solely benefit clinical patient care

Other JHU Activities

  • University supported effort expended on campus activities that cannot be properly reported under any other category
  • Public affairs office
  • Development office
  • Alumni relations
  • Intercollegiate athletics
  • Chapels
  • Public museums
  • Theatres or Concerts
  • Service Center Activities
  • IPA Agreements
  • Sabbatical Leave

Affiliated Institutional Activities

  • Effort related to services performed under terms of an agreement with an affiliated institution, e.g. Kennedy Kreiger, Johns Hopkins Hospital, etc

Why do I have to complete effort reports?

The Office of Management and Budget (OMB) Circular A-21 (Cost Principles for Educational Institutions) requires that personnel associated with sponsored activity certify their effort on federal awards after the effort has been expended. A certified effort form is the only auditable document the university has to support salary costs on an award. It is also a major source for capturing cost sharing (defined as cost incurred on a sponsored project not reimbursed by the sponsor).Failure to have a certified effort form on file for payroll costs on an award could result in the disallowance of the related salary, fringe and F&A costs.

Who has to complete effort reports?

Any personnel working on sponsored activity or who is part of a department that has sponsored activity must complete an effort report. The exceptions to this rule are weekly paid personnel, individuals supported 100% by a fellowship (stipends), College Work Study employees or Bargaining Units employees.

Why are some individuals required to complete effort reports every six months and others every three months?

OMB Circular A-21 requires all individuals to review their effort reports monthly. As part of the negotiation with the federal government it was decided that the less intrusive method to confirm effort reports was for senior staff and faculty to review their effort semi-annually and everyone else quarterly.

What is the difference between Sponsored funding and University funding?

Effort generally is supported in two ways; either using sponsored funding or university funding.

Sponsored Funding is salary on contracts that require the University to provide goods or services in exchange for payment (and are in the University’s Coeus System) and grants that require the University to provide technical and/or financial reporting to the sponsor on the results of research and other sponsored activities.

University Funding is salary supported by general funds, gifts, endowments and other Non-Sponsored accounts.

How are the payroll percentages calculated on the effort forms?

Each quarter a download of the payroll distribution is loaded into the ERS System. ERS then performs a routine to only use the transactions that are appropriate for the designated report period. The percentages include all payroll transactions except:

  • Supplemental Payments, Weekly Paid Wages (College Work Study wages and Bargaining Unit wages), Stipends, Overseas Housing/Living/Moving Allowances.
  • All Fringe Benefit accounts
  • Cost Transfers not applicable to the reporting period
  • Termination/Vacation Leave

Once the above are excluded, payroll charged to each project is reflected as a percentage of the individual’s total payroll.

How are effort reports distributed?

Depending on the authority given to Department/Sub Department Coordinators, Pre-Reviewers, and Certifiers, an email from Financial Research Compliance is sent out to the individual who is responsible for conducting the first action in the effort process. If no preview is necessary the Certifier will receive the email, if a pre-review is necessary then the pre-reviewer will receive the email. In all cases the Department/Sub Department Coordinator will also receive a notification that the process has begun.

How do I complete an Effort Form for an individual with an account not set up?

It is recommended that effort is not provided until an account has been established. Pre-award/ spending accounts can be established prior to the actually final authorization of an agreement by making a request through the divisional Office of Research Administration.

How long does an individual appear on the assignment list once terminated from the University?

An individual will appear in the assignment list, even when the individual has been terminated from the University, the name will appear on the list.

What is Archiving? How often are Effort Forms archived?

Effort Forms are archived every quarter before the new quarter is initiated. Only certified and completed effort forms will be archived.

Certified effort forms will be archived on or about the 20th of January, April, July and October for the quarters ending September 30, December 31, March 31 and June 30.

Certified and archived effort reports provide auditable documentation to demonstrate to the University’s research funders that the sponsor did in fact receive the level of effort described and expected through the proposal process, the award process, and all post award communications with the sponsor. For these reasons, changes to an archived effort form are not allowed except in extremely limited circumstances, which require extensive documentation as to why the effort was originally certified incorrectly and approval by the Controller’s Office.

What does ‘Define Differences‘ mean?

Any time the certifier modifies the effort form and creates differences from the adjusted payroll approved in Pre-Review, the differences must be defined in post review. These differences could be accounted for as Cost Sharing or by processing a cost transfer.

ERS Roles

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ERS – Effort Application

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Payroll Cost Transfers in ERS

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Cost Sharing on Effort Forms

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