Effort on Proposals

Effort OverviewBack to Top

Effort is your time spent on a sponsored project, regardless of whether the sponsor funds your salary.

When you are listed as PI, co-PI, or key personnel on a grant proposal, you are obligated to commit a certain amount of effort to the sponsor.

In order to comply with Federal regulations, effort committed to a project must be documented at the proposal stage and tracked (certified) throughout the lifecycle of the project.

Effort CommitmentBack to Top

What is an effort commitment?

A commitment is the amount of effort you propose in a grant proposal or other project application, and that the sponsor accepts – regardless of whether you request salary support for the effort.

How are effort commitments measured?

Commitments are expressed in terms of a percentage of your work time over a given project period.

Who needs to record effort commitment on a proposal?

Commitments are recorded and tracked for: the PI, co-PI(s), and senior/key personnel identified in the proposal.

Which proposal components are used to document effort commitments?

  • Award requirements
  • Budget/budget justification
  • Project description/research plan

Limits on effort commitment

  • An individual’s aggregated commitments to sponsored projects cannot exceed 100%
  • Commitments to sponsored projects can only add up to 100% if all of your job duties are allocated to sponsored projects.
  • Proposal-writing, institutional committee service, etc. are not allocable to sponsored projects. Individuals with such responsibilities must reserve some percentage of effort for theses duties (3-5% is recommended), to be funded by unrestricted sources .
  • For investigators with academic or administrative responsibilities, commitment to sponsored projects generally cannot total 100% for any consecutive 12 month period.

Minimum effort commitment

  • Minimum required commitment for PI’s on all sponsored projects, except clinical trials, is 1% of total effort.
  • For clinical trials, commitment to any one trial may be less than 1% as long as the sum of commitments for all the trials totals at least 1% and represents a reasonable level of effort.
  • The minimum effort requirement does not apply to: equipment/instrumentation grants, doctoral dissertation grants, or student augmentation grants.
  • The minimum effort requirement does apply for the PI on a training grant, but not for the faculty mentors, as their effort will be assigned to the trainees’ specific research projects.

Funding EffortBack to Top

Effort on a sponsored project can be funded in two ways:

  • Paid effort is work for which the sponsor provides salary support.
  • Cost-shared effort is work on a sponsored project for which the university, rather than the sponsor, provides salary support. There are several types of cost-shared effort:
    • Mandatory: Cost sharing required by the sponsor as a condition of the award
    • Voluntary committed: Cost sharing that appears in the proposal but is not required by the sponsor
    • Voluntary uncommitted: Cost sharing not stated in the award documents; usually occurs when more time is devoted to a project than stated in the proposal or award.

An individual’s effort on a given grant may be a combination of paid and cost-shared effort.

For example, if you indicate in a proposal that you will devote 30% of your effort to the grant for one year, and request salary support for 10% of your effort, then:

  • Effort commitment is 30%
  • Paid effort is 10%
  • Cost-shared effort is 20%

Outstanding Effort TasksBack to Top

It is important to keep all effort tasks (training, certification, etc) timely and current. According to University policy, failure to do so will prevent submission of proposals and processing of awards.

Changes in Effort CommitmentBack to Top

Agency Approval

Agency approval is necessary for changes that are less than 25% of the total effort commitment. For example, if you committed 10% but only ended up applying 8% to the project, there is no need to contact the agency. If you want to commit more effort, it’s considered voluntary uncommitted cost-share, and there is no need to contact the agency or report on the extra effort. Work with your department effort coordinator (Excel spreadsheet) if you need to make changes to your effort coordinator.

Special Considerations

Reductions in budget. When an agency agrees to fund a proposal at less than the original budget amount, effort needs to be taken into consideration during revisions. If the scope of the project is changing due to less funding, will effort levels remain the same?

No cost extensions. During a period of no-cost extension, it is assumed that the effort commitment will remain the same. If the level of commitment for the PI, Co-PI, or key personnel on the project will change during the extension period, it is recommended that a request to change effort is submitted with the request for no-cost extension.

Effort ResourcesBack to Top

UW-Madison Campus Resources
RSP Effort Home Page List of links to Effort-related policy, training materials, forms, and tools, from Research and Sponsored Programs (RSP)
RSP Effort Commitment FAQ’s Frequently Asked Questions about Effort Commitment, from Research and Sponsored Programs (RSP)
RSP Effort Calculator If your effort on a project varies, this Research and Sponsored Programs (RSP) tool calculates the overall effort percentage for an entire reporting period.
RSP Effort Reporting FAQ’s Frequently Asked Questions about Effort Reporting, from Research and Sponsored Programs (RSP); also includes some information on effort commitment and management.
RSP Effort Glossary Effort-related terms and definitions, from Research and Sponsored Programs (RSP)

Effort ContactsBack to Top

For more information or assistance with Effort related to proposal development, contact your department Research Administrator or your CALS Research Division Preaward Team Contact.

For information about Effort Reporting, see the Effort Reporting section of this site.

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