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ecrt Frequently Asked Questions

All ecrt Users

Exactly what is ecrt?

ecrt is the University of Pittsburgh's online effort reporting tool that is used by PI's to facilitate effort certification. ecrt also provides information over the course of the year to assist department and central administrators with monitoring effort and making appropriate adjustments to effort distributions on a timely basis. Salary distribution and Cost Sharing data are loaded to ecrt on a nightly basis which allows users to review distributions and make adjustments as needed throughout the period of performance. ecrt training and resources are available for all users.

How do I access ecrt?

ecrt is accessible through my.pitt.edu. When you login you will see an ecrt link on your landing page – it will be grouped with your links to other systems on the right-hand side of the page. If you click on the ecrt link you will first see a Welcome page, click continue to navigate to your Home Page in the system.

What is my Username?

You will not have a specific ecrt username – you will use your my.pitt.edu username to log into the portal and then click the ecrt link from there.

What is my Password?

You will not have a specific ecrt password – you will use your my.pitt.edu password to log into the portal and then click the ecrt link from there.

Who has to certify their effort?

All PIs on Federal Projects will certify their own effort. PIs will also certify for every individual working on their projects except for those individuals who are also PIs.

If I have questions, whom should I contact?

Assistance can be obtained by emailing sparhelp@cfo.pitt.edu.

Principal Investigators

Why am I receiving emails from ecrt?

ecrt sends automatic emails at the beginning of each Certification Period to every user who has certification responsibility in the system. As the period progresses, there are 3 other automatic reminder emails that are sent from the system. Only PIs who have outstanding responsibilities will receive the reminder emails.

Why do I have to certify my effort?

OMB Circular A-21 (Cost Principles for Educational Institutions) requires some form of after-the-fact confirmation that labor expenses represent actual costs of the work performed.

How often do I have to certify my effort going forward?

All PIs will certify 3 times a year.

When do I have to certify my effort and how long do I have to do so?

There are three Periods of Performance that coincide with the University’s academic periods, September-December, January-April and May-August.  The 45-day certification window will open approximately three weeks following the end of the Period of Performance.  You will receive an email notifying you of the opening of the certification window.  Certification schedules are posted on the Financial Compliance for Research website at http://www.cfo.pitt.edu/fcr/certification_schedules.php.

What time period is covered by this certification?

The certification covers one 4-month academic period.  The Periods of Performance are September-December, January-April and May-August.  The gold header on each effort statement will identify the Period of Performance related to that effort statement.

I certified my effort. Am I done?

There are two places you can check in ecrt to confirm that you are done. On the Home
Page if the Statements Awaiting Certification tab is empty, you are done. On the Effort
Certification Page, if your Work List only contains your name (and you can see that your
statement status is "Certification Complete") then you are done. If there are any individuals in
either of these lists then you still have statements left to certify.

Why do I have to check the checkboxes when I certify a statement?

Checking the checkboxes is a confirmation that you have reviewed the line and agree with
the percentage of effort that was spent on the project.

If I have questions, whom should I contact?

You can receive help in a number of ways. Every effort statement has a Get Help button
that opens an email to your Primary Effort Coordinator. You can also learn more general
information about the page you are viewing in ecrt by clicking the Help button at the top right
corner of the page. Additionally, assistance can be obtained by emailing
sparhelp@cfo.pitt.edu.

Can I delegate responsibility for effort certification to another individual?

In limited instances, you may be authorized to assign certification responsibility to another
individual who has first-hand knowledge of the work performed and an understanding of the
scientific nature of the work. A certification designee is appointed to certify the effort related
to a specific project. A certification proxy is appointed to certify a PI's personal effort
statement. A formal request to establish either relationship must be completed and forwarded
to the Office of Financial Compliance for Research (FCR) for approval. The form and
instructions can be found on the FCR website at http://www.cfo.pitt.edu/fcr/ecrtForms.php.

Who certifies the effort of research staff that work on sponsored projects for more than one PI?

All PIs related to a particular research employee will have access to that employee’s effort statement.  In the Federal Sponsored Project section of the effort statement, each PI will only have certification check boxes next to the project(s) for which he/she is the PI.  Acknowledgement check boxes will also appear on the total lines for the Non-Federal Sponsored and Non-Sponsored sections of the effort statement.

Why do I need to certify Sponsored Non-Federal and Non-Sponsored activity on my research staff effort statements?

Federal guidelines require the certification of federal sponsored activity in relation to the employee's total University effort. You are required to check the boxes on the total line for the Sponsored Non-Federal and Non-Sponsored sections of the effort statement, not the individual lines within those sections. By checking the totals, you are certifying that the Federal Sponsored effort, for which you checked boxes for individual projects, is reasonable based on this employee's total University effort. You are not certifying the effort spent in the Non-Federal or Non-Sponsored categories.

I certified this statement – why is it showing up in my work list again?

An effort statement may be reopened if a salary reallocation is applied after the statement was certified. If this occurs the statement will require recertification. You will receive an email if any statement that you have certified requires recertification and the statement will show up in your Statements Awaiting Certification tab as well as your Work List, along with any other outstanding statements that need to be certified.

Effort Coordinators

I am typing data in a search box and pressing enter, why is nothing happening?

When entering data into certain fields, such a department or PI name, the system is equipped with "smart keys" which generate suggested values when at least 3 characters are entered. The more characters you enter the more specific your search results will be. After typing in your search criteria, please allow a few seconds for the system to identify your data. Once the data box returns a value, select the appropriate option, and click the submit button.

How do I fix incorrect data, such as the PI on a particular sponsored project or an incorrect home department, in ecrt?

Incorrect data must be corrected in the source system for it to be corrected in ecrt. Nightly data loads bring data into ecrt from the SPAR, Research and Proposal Accounting (RPA), Human Resources and Payroll PRISM applications.

Why would I want to place an effort statement on hold?

If you place an effort statement on hold, that statement will not be included in the mass email that notifies PIs of the Certification Period Start Date. Instead, an email will be sent to the associated PI when the hold is removed from the effort statement. This allows you to have some additional time to review the effort statement (make sure Salary Reallocations are applied, cost share amounts are accurate, etc.) before the statement is released in ecrt for certification.

If I put an effort statement on "Hold," does the certifier still have 45 days to certify it regardless of when I take it off "Hold?"

No. The certification period is 45 days long and will not be extended for any PI with an effort statement on "Hold." If the effort statement is released from "Hold" after 5 days, the PI will have 40 days to certify that effort statement.

If a Salary Reallocation is processed after the effort statement is certified, does the statement have to be recertified?

If a Salary Reallocation applies to certified effort statement, then the effort statement will need to be recertified. An Effort Task will be created for the Primary Effort Coordinator to review before opening the statement for recertification. It is important to consider any additional reallocations that may be needed before reopening the statement – as only one recertification will be allowed.

Can I limit the access to effort statements for other Effort Coordinators in my Department to a specific group of employees?

Yes. This is done be establishing this employee as a Secondary Effort Coordinator and indicating 'Y' under the Restrict column of the Request to Create an Effort Coordinator form. FCR will create the role, granting access to ecrt for this secondary EC. You will then need to assign the group of employees to which this Restricted Secondary EC will have access.