The SPAR application is the University of Pittsburgh-developed labor distribution system and is fully integrated with PRISM Human Resources, Payroll, and Research Proposal and Accounting applications. Effort percentages representing the various work activities (teaching, sponsored research, public service, administration, etc.) of each salaried employee are entered on the individual’s SPAR. These percentages serve as the basis for University payroll distribution and for effort certification on federal sponsored awards.

System Availability Notice

Maintenance is performed on the SPAR application according to the schedule below. During these times, SPAR users will have access to all inquiry functions and view-only access to the online SPAR form. Users will not be able to modify SPARs during these maintenance periods.

  • Nightly from 9:30 p.m. until midnight to accommodate daily processing and updates to related applications.
  • On the third Friday of each month, from 12:00 midnight (Thursday) until 11:00 a.m. Friday to allow for additional Payroll processing.
  • During the month-end closing processes, beginning at 5:00 p.m. on the 2nd working day of each month until 6:00 a.m. on the 5th working day of each month. The closing process for the last month of an academic period (April, August, December) may require an additional day to create SPARs for the new period. For these month-end closings, the SPAR application may not reopen until the 6th working day of the new month.
  • Non-routine system maintenance will be performed as required and may result in unscheduled SPAR application restrictions.

Mandatory Workshops

Learning Objectives of Workshop

This workshop will provide an introduction to the on-line SPAR application including instruction on basic navigation and simple SPAR modifications. Other topics include the roles/responsibilities, security levels, creation of new SPARs, available queries and system availability.

Target Audience

All users of the Salaried Personnel Activity Report (SPAR) system are required to attend. For users whose responsibilities include accounting for sponsored projects, attendance at the Basics of Effort Reporting and Advanced SPAR-Cost Sharing workshops is also required.

Brief Description of Workshop

The following topics will be discussed:

  • What is a SPAR?
  • Roles and responsibilities
  • Intro to SPAR screen and navigation
  • Hands-on examples of simple SPAR modifications
  • SPAR create process for new SPAR periods
  • SPAR Inquiries
  • System availability
  • Review of resources available on Financial Compliance for Research website

Learning Objectives

To develop an understanding of effort reporting requirements on federally sponsored research as mandated by the Federal Office of Management and Budget (OMB) and supported by the University’s Effort Reporting policy.

Target Audience

Required for University staff whose responsibilities include administration of sponsored research projects.

Brief Description of Program
  • Explanation of federal requirements.
  • Key points to the University’s effort reporting policy.
  • Address the following:
    • What is effort?
    • What is Institutional Base Salary (IBS)
    • Why must effort be certified?
    • Standard for suitable means of verification
    • Committed effort
    • Actual effort vs. sponsored project budgets
    • Types of cost sharing
    • Salary reallocations
  • Provide sample effort situations.
  • Answer some Effort FAQ’s and provide contact information for effort assistance.

Learning Objectives of Workshop

This workshop will provide in-depth discussions of the theory and mechanics of cost sharing on sponsored research projects in the SPAR application. Hands-on examples will include the entry of mandatory and voluntary cost sharing in varying scenarios affecting employees over and under the DHHS salary cap.

Target Audience

Required for all SPAR users whose responsibilities include sponsored research activity. Prerequisites to this workshop are Basics of Effort Reporting and SPAR Introduction.

Brief Description of Workshop

The following topics and examples will be presented:

  • Cost sharing terms and codes
  • Mandatory Cost Sharing(MCS) – DHHS salary cap and sample calculations
  • Voluntary Cost Sharing (VCS) situations
  • SPAR application calculations related to cost sharing and data entry rules
  • Hands-on examples of cost sharing scenarios including:
    • MCS
    • VCS
    • Combination MCS/VCS
  • Review of resources available on Financial Compliance for Research website


Register for a Workshop