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New UTSA system simplifies research reporting

By Christi Fish
Public Affairs Specialist

(March 26, 2009)--"Three clicks and you're done!" That's the goal of the new online effort certification process, ECRT, introduced this spring by the UTSA Office of the Vice President for Research. Time-and-effort certification is a requirement for recipients of federal research funding.

The reporting process has been under intense scrutiny by the federal government in recent years, and audits carry hefty fines for institutions that cannot produce proper documentation of their research activities. To streamline the effort reporting process, UTSA adopted ECRT, an online platform that will make time-and-effort reporting easier for project principal investigators (PIs). Until April 14, PIs can log on to their accounts to determine if account corrections are necessary before the official reporting period begins April 15.

ECRT replaces UTSA's monthly paper-and-pencil reporting process with a semi-annual system. Using information imported from the Define online system, ECRT allows principal investigators to view, edit and certify their efforts as well as the efforts of their research teams. Because federal guidelines require that PIs have the best firsthand knowledge of their sponsored research, ECRT requires PIs to log in to the system using their unique network login and password.

"Although effort reporting is the primary responsibility of each principal investigator, we understand that there is a shared aspect to this compliance issue, like others in research administration," said Jorge Manzano, UTSA time and effort coordinator. "Our due diligence is to inform our researchers about the new reporting system and to assist them so that they can focus on their research. We've been working diligently to ensure the accuracy of the information in ECRT and to help make this process as quick and easy as possible for our research community. But like all new processes, we expect there will be some bumps along the way that will need to be addressed. We are asking all principal investigators to preview the system and, if they have any questions, to contact us so that we can work with them."

To preview their effort for the September 2008-February 2009 period, principal investigators can log on at the ECRT Web site. While there, they can update income sources, payroll allocations and cost-sharing percentages.

>> For assistance with corrections, contact Jorge Manzano at (210) 458-6045 or the Electronic Research Administration (ERA) Help Desk at (210) 458-7805.

>> For principal investigators: ECRT FAQ site.

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