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Cost Share Application Best Practices and FAQ

Cost Share Application Best Practices and Frequently Asked Questions

  • What happens when I finalize a report, and what do the lock symbols mean? 
  • The new system has improved controls for data integrity.  Records cannot be altered or removed if there are other records attached to them in a downstream process.  For example, setting up a transaction criteria and selecting transactions based on that criteria for reporting creates data in multiple tables, but the data are linked.  Once a report is finalized and approved, the system locks those records so none of them can be changed, since we’re reporting that data to the sponsoring agency.  The locks do NOT prevent you from selecting additional transactions to report, in the next period, or even in a period that has already been reported if a supplemental report is needed.

  • Are the amounts shown when selecting transactions calculated to the percentage of effort in the criteria?
  • No. CSA allows maximum flexibility in the dollars cost-shared.  When a transaction criteria is created for 10% of a PI’s salary, the calculations are shown onscreen, to show the user the PI’s Institutional Base Salary for the pay period and what 10% of that means in dollars.  However, the transactions for the PI’s salary and benefits that are available from the designated account for cost sharing are ALL shown in the results grid for selection.  You can select transactions totaling more or less than the target amount calculated in the Institutional Base Salary (IBS) calculation box.

  • What if I need to report a different amount of cost share for an employee’s salary and benefits on the next report?
  • If your PI doesn’t want to report the 10% evenly over the life of the award, you can increase the dollars selected in some reporting periods and decrease the dollars in others by selecting more or fewer transactions, or by partially cost sharing one or more transactions.  There shouldn’t be a need to make changes to the transaction criteria. You just need to keep track of your cumulative amount reported, so that your overall project total is met (but not significantly exceeded.)

  • What if it’s important to show a specific percentage of effort in one period and a different percentage in the next period?
  • If you have a pressing reason why the cost-shared dollars must be at different percentages for different periods during the life of the award (e.g. 5% in year 1 and 10% in year 2, with an annual cost share reporting period), the best practice would be to create the transaction criteria and set the start and end dates to reflect year 1 only.  Then create a separate transaction criteria for year 2.  The various transaction criteria for one employee may not have dates that overlap.

  • How can I get to the exact dollar amount I need for each reporting period?
  • While selecting transactions to report, use the Partial button in the far right column to designate by dollars or percentage, the portion of a transaction to cost share. When a transaction is partially shared, the transaction ‘Amount’ will be different from the ‘CS Amount.’  The unshared portion is still available to be cost shared later or on another award.

  • Is it necessary to select the same dollar amount from each and every pay period (PPE)?
  • Regarding tracking cost shared effort PPE by PPE versus selecting the dollars from the first available PPE - cost share rules are the same as direct charge rules: we are not required to charge salaries evenly over the effort reporting period (e.g. summer salary); in the Effort Reporting System (ERS), we annualize the effort. Likewise, where cost share reporting is annual, cost share expenses can be selected in the first available PPE(s) to satisfy the entire cost share year.  Just be careful that you’re not using cost share dollars that are needed by another project.

  • What data is transferred from CSA to the Effort Reporting System (ERS)?
  • Only the employee ID, percentage, and dates from the transaction criteria in CSA are sent to ERS.  The percentage is weight-averaged to account for differences between the effort commitment period and the effort reporting period.  It’s important for effort reporting that the transaction criteria reflect the true effort commitment percentage as stated in the award contract and/or proposal.  No transactional expense data is transferred to ERS.