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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.

  • When reviewing a contribution report in ‘Generate & Finalize Reports’ there’s a red message stating that "Some Labor Ledger transactions...have been marked as reversed. Please remove..."  How do I find the transactions causing the error?
  • First, in the report preview screen, look at the Fiscal Yr/Prd dates of the transactions on the report, play with the fiscal-period-range dates (above the report) until you determine which fiscal period(s) have the unallowable data.  The error will go away when you’ve eliminated the period(s) with the unallowable data. Select one month at a time if necessary. Note which months cause the error. Next, Print a 339 (for LL, or a 2 for GL entries) for the accounts shown on the contribution report starting with that fiscal period and year to current.  Determine which transactions on the report were transferred out of the accounts.  Finally, go to the Review Labor Ledger Transactions page to remove the transactions, and then to the Labor Ledger Transactions page to add more transactions, if needed.
  • How do I remove the transactions causing the error from the report?
  • In the Review (Labor Ledger/General Ledger) Transactions screen, select the person or transaction criteria and period to find and remove those transactions.  If the transactions are locked, contact your CGA Fund Manager to re-open the periods already reported (just the periods with errors).Return to the report preview screen to see if the error has cleared.  As a last resort, update the transaction criteria to exclude the fiscal period(s) with the unallowable data. On clicking Save, the system will say there are transactions that don’t meet the new criteria and ask if you want to delete them. Say Yes.  Note: this may remove more data than you really want to remove.  Valid transactions can be added back from the Transaction Criteria screen  or from the Labor Ledger Transactions or General Ledger Transactions screens.  If the transaction criteria is locked, contact your CGA Fund Manager to re-open the periods already reported (just the ones with errors).
  • How do I report additional transactions in a period that has already been finalized?  Criteria has already had entries prior and post that time frame it's being added to.
  • Additional transactions can be added to the contribution report for periods that have been finalized, you just can’t change the transaction criteria.  When you finalize the next report, if your date range includes the previously reported periods, the contribution report will be a revised (cumulative) report not a new (incremental) report.
  • Once I finalize a contribution report and the amount is reported to the sponsoring agency, including sending the report as backup, if we re­open the reported periods, have we lost the audit trail? Especially if we have to re-open multiple reports?
  • The invoices and financial reports we send to the sponsor are the actual record of what we reported.  We rarely send the contribution report as backup.  When reports are re-opened, they are still retained in the Review Completed Reports screen. We should be able to find the Contribution Report or a reconciliation of a Contribution Report that supports the reported amount.  If there are extra finalized reports that overlap periods, it shouldn’t be an issue.
  • If a report is re-opened, is it still visible in the ‘Review Completed Reports’ screen?
  • Yes, the completed reports stay in the system.  The report itself isn’t really unlocked, what unlocks is the ability to remove transactions on that report and/or change the transaction criteria.
  • How can we really tell which completed reports have been reported to the sponsoring agency and which ones haven't?
  • In most cases, the most recent report version for the period is going to be the one reported.  The CGA Fund Manager should have record of which report has been accepted for reporting to the sponsor.
  • How do I add more cost share dollars to the contribution report to meet the required amount?  There are transactions available but they are from periods that have already been reported.
  • Transactions can be added for periods already reported, but keep that in mind when selecting the report dates (backdate the fiscal periods), and be aware that your contribution report will include already-reported amounts (it will be cumulative).  If you’re reporting cumulative amounts on each report, there should be no problem.  However, if you’re reporting incremental amounts, you’ll need to identify the new transactions.  If there are no current transactions available, check to see if the expenses really posted to the account you’re using (i.e. print a DS-2 and find the transactions), they may have posted elsewhere or may have been transferred off the account.