University of California, Riverside

PI Web Reporting System

PIWRS Annual Certifications

Department Coordinator Role

The Department Coordinator's participation is critical for the success of the Annual Payroll Certification process. Listed below is information related to this new process.

What Are Payroll Certifications?

  • A new way to confirm salaries charged to federally funded sponsored projects represent an equitable distribution based on an employee's work activities.
  • A shift in focus from "effort" concept to reasonableness of salaries based on work performed.
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Why Do Payroll Certifications?

  • To provide greater accountability, accuracy, efficiency, and transparency.
  • Better alignment with award's budget years.
  • Paper based process is inefficient.
  • The concept of "effort" is confusing.
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What is the Department Coordinator's Role?

  • Assist PI with the process
  • Review PIWRS reports for data integrity.
  • Enter Cost Shared salaries
  • Ensure all payroll cost transfers prepared timely throughout the certification period.
  • Enter pending payroll cost transfers affecting the certification period - hopefully minimal.
  • Review Cost Notes to ensure salaries are compliant and add comments to assist PI in his/her review.
  • Coordinate the confirmation of salaries charged under a collaborator's department
  • Ensure certifications are performed timely
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Other Complementing Processes

  • Assist the PI with accessing the PIWRS Monthly reports
  • Assist PIs with accessing the Payroll Detail Reports contained within the PIWRS Monthly Reports
  • Promptly process cost transfers

Note! The PIWRS Monthly Reports provide monthly expenditure and payroll detail.  The Department Coordinator has the ability to enter pending adjustments and projections the week prior to the reports being posted. The prompt review of these reports by the PI will aassist with timely identification and correction of errors. A "Best Practice" is for the PI to electronically mark the Monthly Report as reviewed.


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PIWRS Coordinator Role Options

In addition to updating projections and other information on the monthly PIWRS report, this role can access the following payroll certification related items:

  • View Payroll Certification Reports (for PIs under their accountability structure)
  • Add/Edit Cost Sharing Salary Data (until the report is Certified)
  • Add/Edit Salary Adjustments (until the report is Certified)
  • Add Comments (until the report is Certified)
  • Attach supporting documents (at any time)
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Direct Project Salary Adjustments

Prior to the Annual Payroll Certifications becoming available to PIs, an email will be sent to Departmental PIWRS Coordinators on a fund-by-fund basis. If required, the PIWRS Coordinator may enter a Direct Salary Adjustment(s). Here are a few things to remember about Direct Salary Adjustments:

  • These adjustments should be infrequent and are typically related to pending payroll cost transfers, Late Pay (LX), or Reduced Pay (RX).
  • A comment is required when a Direct Salary Adjustment is entered.
  • Special attention should be given when an award is ending (i.e. this is the "final" payroll certification).
  • If a material amount is to be adjusted related to the award, the adjustment should be entered as a positive or negative amount.
  • Direct Salary Adjustments and comments will be available to PIs as they perform their certifications.
  • PIs may elect to edit this information as appropriate or simply add additional comments as needed. Department Financial Managers should clearly communicate expectations to PIs regarding this functionality.
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Direct Salary Adjustment Reversals

If an award is not ending and requires a Direct Salary Adjustment in the current certification period, there is a high probability the adjustment will require a reversal in the next certification period. When a reversal is required, mark the reversal check box and enter the month and year (MM/YYYY) that the payroll cost transfer will be processed in PPS; payroll cost transfers should be initiated in concert with the entering of the Direct Salary Adjustment. When the reversal check box is marked, the reversal of the Direct Salary Adjustment will be automatically inserted into the next payroll certification period for the associated fund and employee, so it is extremely important that the payroll cost transfer associated with the reversal be promptly entered in Payroll Personnel System (PPS).

  • Example

    A payroll certification for fund 12345 covers the period February 2012 through January 2013. The PI determines that Employee X's salary for January 2013 of $3,000 should not have been charged to fund 12345, but it should been charged to fund 23456, the PIWRS Coordinator would enter a Direct Salary Adjustment crediting the January salary amount on fund 12345 prior to the fund being certified (i.e. -$3,000) AND the reversal check box should be marked. A payroll cost transfer should immediately be prepared moving the $3,000 January salary expense (ideally this would occur in February 2013) from fund 12345 to fund 23456. When the February 2013 through January 2014 payroll certification is issued for 12345, the -$3,000 will be included under Employee X's total direct project salary amount; this credit was already reflected on the payroll certification covering the period February 2012 through January 2013, so this amount should not be included in the February 2013 through January 2014 payroll certification. Since the reversal check box was marked on the last payroll certification, the system will automatically insert the $3,000 to offset the credit appropriately, resulting in a net impact of $0 in the February 2013 through January 2014 payroll certification report.

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Adjust Reversal & Date

Salary Adjustment Reversal Date

After checking the box for a Salary Adjustment Reversal, departments are encouraged to immediately process the payroll cost transfer for the next payroll period. To ensure a clear audit trail, payroll cost transfers should be processed in PPS in the month and year indicated in the Direct Salary Adjustment Reversal.

Please note the policy highlights below related to payroll cost transfers:

  • Cost transfers involving payroll transactions must be processed through the PPS.
  • Access to PPS requires special training.
  • Cost transfers involving salaries must include the related benefit expenditures.
  • Any transfers to and from Federal Contracts and Grants MUST be approved by the PI.
  • All cost transfers must include an explanation of "how the error occurred". Please refer to Business & Finance Bulletin A-47 for additional guidance.
  • The department is responsible for retaining documentation supporting cost transfers for audit purposes.
  • The Payroll Personnel System (PPS) inhibits cost transfer TO a contract and grant fund that is more than 120 days old. If a correction is required, the cost may be transferred to an unrestricted fund. 
  • Please refer to the On-Line Payroll Time Reporting System Procedures on payroll cost transfer for additional instructions.


Please explain the reason the Direct Cost Salary Adjustment is necessary. If the adjustment should NOT be reversed, please include information on why the reversal is unnecessary

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Cost Shared Salaries

Cost Shared salaries associated with the award's budget year being certified should be entered.  Only the cost shared salaries should be entered; please do not include benefits on the Annual Payroll Certification.  The salary amounts should agree to the paper Cost Sharing Report for the same reporting period

The FAU associated with the cost shared salaries is required and must be from a non-federal source.

In the short term, the paper based cost sharing form will also be required on an annual basis. Beginning April 2012, the completed cost sharing report can be attached by uploading to the Annual Payroll Certification Report.  The long term goal is to feed cost sharing information directly into the Annual Payroll Certification Report from an electronic cost sharing report.

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Cost Notes

Potential audit concerns are identified via the Cost Note field on the report. These items should be reviewed to ensure adherence to agency terms and conditions. Add comments as necessary to confirm the appropriateness of the charge and/or to provide information on pending corrections (note: it may be necessary to enter a Direct Cost Salary Adjustment as well).  The comments should assist the PI in his/her review of the report.

  • Cost Note 1: NSF Sr. Project Personnel 2 month salary restriction.
  • Cost Note 2: 90%+ Salaries charged to sponsored projects.
  • Cost Note 3: Clerical & Administrative staff exception
  • Cost Note 4: NIH Salary Cap
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Other Considerations

Identify the staff member(s) that will be performing the departmental role. This may be different than the person who coordinated the review of the Personnel Activity Reports (PAR). The department SAA needs to ensure the PIWRS Coordinator role is assigned via EACS.

The PI has the ability to add/edit cost sharing data and adjustments. Once the report is certified no other edits are allowed. When assisting the PI with payroll certifications, communicate expectations regarding who
will be responsible for entering information into these fields.

No re-certifications are allowed

For Budget years ending mid-month associated salaries will be posted at the end of the month.  The certification periods are being defined to ensure that only 12 months of payroll data are displayed in each annual certification. When pre-awards are involved, up to 15 months of payroll data may be displayed.

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PI Responsibilities

The PI's Fiduciary responsibilities include:

  • Review of costs charged to sponsor projects on a monthly basis to ensure the appropriateness of expenses.
  • Prompt identification of errors so timely adjustments can be performed.
  • Prompt completion of payroll certification confirming salary expenditures are reasonable in relationship to the work performed, salary costs directly benefit the project, and salary costs conform to the agency's terms and conditions.

Reviewing the monthly PIWRS (or department equivalent) expenditure report rovides the PI with confidence that the salary charges appearing on the Annual Report are accurate


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Timeline: Catch Up Period

In order to transition to the Annual Payroll Certification process and avoid preparing effort reports for Spring 2011, the following timeline will be used for April, May, June and July payroll certifications:

  • April 2011 Certifications will be distributed to PIWRS Coordinators on 7/29/11 and to PIs on 8/8/11 with a Certification Due Date of 8/29/11
  • May 2011 Certifications will be distributed to PIWRS Coordinators on approximately 8/15/11 and to PIs on 8/15/11 with a Certification Due Date of 9/5//11
  • June 2011 Certifications will be distributed to PIWRS Coordinators on approximately 8/15/11 and to PIs on 8/22/11 with a Certification Due Date of 9/12/11
  • July 2011 Certifications will be distributed to PIWRS Coordinators on approximately 8/22/11 and to PIs on 8/29/11 with a Certification Due Date of 9/19/11
  • August 2011 Certifications will follow the normal distribution cycle.
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Payroll Certification Email Notifications

Several notifications will be system generated on the certification timeline.

View the Annual Payroll Certification Email Notifications
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PIWRS Tutorials

The following informational materials are available in the UCR Learning Center - search for PIWRS. Reviewing these courses is recommended for both Principal Investigators and PIWRS Coordinators:

  • PIWRS: Overview
  • PIWRS: Monthly Expenditure and Payroll Review Tutorial
  • PIWRS: Annual Payroll Cer tification System
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Annual Payroll Certification Resources

Please review the following document for important information regarding the Annual Payroll Certification process and the role of the PIWRS Department Coordinator.

Annual Payroll Certification Department Coordinator Role

View UCR Policy & Procedure for Payroll Certifications on Federally Sponsored Projects

Send Questions, Comments or Feedback
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Lessons Learned

The departments that have been the most successful in completing payroll certifications have:

  • Met with PIs on a regular basis to review the monthly expenditure reports and balances
  •  Met with each PI the first time a Payroll Certification is due to explain the process and outline the department's procedures for entering comments and adjustments
  • Ensured PIs have a support web browser on their computer
  • Encouraged PIs to view the 14 minute on-line tutorial on Payroll Certifications available via the LMS
  • Department Coordinators have reviewed Cost Notes and enter comments explaining the condition

Department Coordinators should:

  • Identify material pending payroll cost transfers and enter this information as Direct Cost Adjustment prior to the Payroll Certification being distributed to the PI,
  • Immediately process the related PPS Cost Transfers and note the date of PPS entry in the comments.

Note: Pending union increases or lump sum payout should not be entered in the Direct Cost Adjustment information due to the complexity of some of the agreements and the difficulty in manually calculating accurate amounts over the various FAU distributions.

Upon receipt of the Payroll Certification Fund Review-Notification #1:

  • Review certifications periods budget year dates and other information for accuracy and report problems and/or questions to
  • Begin gathering cost sharing data if applicable

Best Practice Notes:

  • Department Coordinators should review the prior year Payroll Certification (if applicable) to determine if any prior period Direct Cost Adjustments require adjustments in the current certification period.
  • Confirm a sample of salary expenditures to the Distribution of Payroll Expense (DOPE)
  • Send feedback on bugs, questions or concerns to

Final Notes

Participation in this Federal Demonstration Partnership project is an opportunity for UCR to demonstrate there is a more effective process than effort reporting.

PIWRS Coordinators play an important role in the success of this demonstration that will impact institutions of higher education across the United States.

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More Information 

General Campus Information

University of California, Riverside
900 University Ave.
Riverside, CA 92521
Tel: (951) 827-1012

Department Information

Computing & Communications
Computing & Communications Bldg.

Tel: (951) 827-4741
Fax: (951) 827-4541