Salary/Effort Concerns

Per UCOP policy, the leader of a sponsored project must commit measurable effort to a proposal to be considered a Principal Investigator.

"An essential qualification of the individual who proposes to head an extramurally supported research, training, or public service project is that he or she will personally participate in it to a significant degree. It is contrary to University policy, and is viewed with extreme disfavor by sponsoring agencies, to list as head of a project the name of an individual, however prestigious that person may be, who will contribute only a minimum or nominal portion of their own time and effort to the furtherance of the work."

It is the department's responsibility to ensure the correct institutional base pay rates are used in proposal applications, budgeted increases are appropriate, and the correct NIH salary cap is used when applicable. HS SPPO is responsible in ensuring that the Health Sciences policy regarding commensurate salary for effort is budgeted as appropriate and a salary waiver is processed and approved as appropriate.

For the PI of a project, there is no minimum percent of time which can be “donated” to a project without budgeted salary.Salary for effort is mandatory, unless:

  • The funding agency does not allow PI salary;
  • The PI holds an HHMI and Ludwig appointment and is not allowed to budget salary;
  • The sponsoring agency (i.e. NIH, DOD, etc.) limits the annual award amount to less than $50,000; or
  • ​salary waiver request​ has been processed and approved by the Director of HS SPPO.
    • Note: A Professor Emeritus can have up to 30% of effort without salary in a grant application without a salary waiver. This would not be considered cost sharing.

For Faculty Co-investigators (Co-Is), Health Sciences allows up to 5% effort without salary, with the approval of the home department(s), although generally it is to be discouraged. Greater than 5% “donated“ effort of a Co-Investigator requires the Director of HS SPPO’s approval of a salary waiver request from the home department.

Donated effort which is greater than 5% is formal cost sharing, and must be reflected in the cost sharing section of the RES or ePD. If the proposal is funded, the value of this donated effort will need to be tracked and reported as cost sharing to the sponsoring agency.

Salary Waiver Requests

Salary Waiver Requests (2017)  are memos written by the PI’s home department Chair, addressed to Erika Wilson, Director of HS SPPO. This request consists of an explanation on why salary has not been budgeted and what fund source(s) the department will use to cover that salary. Salary Waiver Requests are not automatically approved and should be requested with sufficient lead time so that if turned down, the budget can be revised to include the required salary.

Investigators may not commit more than 97% time and effort on funded projects, and faculty must leave sufficient time available for teaching, clinical and administrative responsibilities. Additionally, the Federal Government has defined proposal writing as administrative effort which may not be charged to grants. Care should be used in budgeting effort in competing applications to make sure proposed commitments are necessary to the project, does not overlap existing grants, and is doable in the event the proposal is funded.

NIH Policy allows a max of 100% (12 person months) effort, whereas UC San Diego’s Policy only allows for a max of 97% effort (11.64 person months) for PIs paid exclusively from federally-funded awards.

NIH Policy on Other Support in the PHS 398 Part III, Policies, Assurances, Definitions, and Other Information (p.35) 

UC San Diego Policy Statement on Percent Salary for Principal Investigators (PI) Paid Exclusively from Federal Awards