Faculty Effort

Expectation of Minimum Effort for PI and other key personnel

All PIs and key personnel on sponsored projects, ordinarily are expected to commit a minimum level of effort to the project.  The minimum amount of committed effort for each sponsored project should be no less than 1% of the employee’s University effort, whether charged to the sponsor or to the University.  In most cases, it is expected that the effort will be greater than 1% and should be reflective of the actual effort necessary to meet the goals and objectives of the project.  This requirement is based on the federal government’s expectation that they be fairly charged for the costs of research (OMB Clarification of January 5, 2001).

Deviations from this expectation require submission of additional justification for OSP review and concurrence.

When is effort not required on a sponsored project?

Some applications, typically for non-research activities, do not require committed effort for the PI or other key personnel.  Examples of sponsored projects that have no expectation for effort include but are not limited to: NIH NSRA individual fellowship applications, NSF Doctoral Dissertation Research Grants, NSF REU Supplements, conference grants, training grants, equipment grants, and travel grants.  OSP will review the program guidelines to determine when effort should be committed to a sponsored project.

Calculating Project Effort for Key Personnel

This example is for key personnel, whose participation is essential for project success and generally possess a high degree of skill and knowledge (PI, co-PI, or co-Investigator, etc.):

To accomplish a project’s work plan, the PI plans on spending 25% of his academic year effort on the project, and ½ of the summer on the project.  To perform the effort calculation, it is necessary to have the PI’s institutional base salary, which in this case is his academic year salary.

PI Institutional Base Salary =

  • Academic Year = $85,000 or $10,000/month ($85,000/8.5 months)
  • Summer = $10,000/month * 3.5 months = $35,000

(NOTE: $10,000 is the maximum rate at which this PI can be compensated for 1 month of work)

Approach #1 –

When sponsor requires salary calculation based on percent effort.

Example: assuming 25% academic year effort and ½ summer effort

  • Academic Year (8.5 months)
    • $85,000 base salary * 25% = $21,250 for academic salary
  • Summer (3.5 months)
    • $10,000/month * 3.5 months = $35,000 (total summer pay allowed)
    • $35,000 * 50% = $17,500 (salary for ½ of the summer effort)

Approach #2 –

When sponsor requires salary calculation based on person months – generally applies to federal grants.

Example: assuming 25% academic year effort and ½ summer effort

  • Academic Year –
    • 25% of his 8.5 month AY appointment = 2.125 person months
    • 2.125 * $10,000 = $21,250 for academic year salary.
  • Summer –
    • ½ of his summer months = 0.5 * 3.5 months = 1.75 months
    • $10,000/month * 1.75 month= $17,500.

Note:  The OSP budget template includes a calculator to convert percent effort to person-months.