COVID-19 FAQ

PPE may be charged to a sponsored project account (usually as a materials/supplies expense) if it is required to conform with UT’s Research Restart guidelines (e.g., masking) and if the use of the PPE can be attributed 100% to that sponsored project. For example, if an experiment requires two individuals to stand within 6 feet of each other, any PPE needed to conduct that experiment would be an appropriate charge to the sponsored project during Research Restart, even if no PPE for that experiment was considered necessary prior to COVID-19.

Importantly, PPE purchased with sponsored project funds must not be used for any non-research purposes (e.g., you may not use masks purchased with sponsored project funds for teaching or generally moving about campus in ways not directly related to your research).

Any PPE that was required for research projects prior to COVID-19 may continue to be charged as a direct cost to those projects.

As always, be sure to follow sponsor guidelines and restrictions. NIH issued NOT-OD-20-164 that sets parameters for acquiring PPE on NIH funded Clinical Trials and Clinical Research Agreements.

Provide sponsors with a link to our Emergency Leave policy and the UT COVID page. Include documentation found in the Timekeeping section of the UT COVID page that shows Emergency Leave was allowed for idled staff from March 13 – May 31.

For graduate students and postdocs: Unless your funder explicitly states that these people cannot be paid when they are not working on-site, you should continue to provide salary support from your sponsored research accounts as you normally would. PIs should reassign these trainees (graduate students and postdocs) to remote research or training activities that benefit both the sponsored project and the trainee’s professional development. Examples of such activities could include data analysis, manuscript preparation, writing fellowship proposals, or acquiring new research skills through online courses or workshops in relevant research topics.

For professional staff (non-trainees): Any staff who can reasonably be reassigned to remote work or professional development activities that benefit the sponsored project should be reassigned in this way, with salary support continuing to be provided by the sponsored project. For staff who cannot be reassigned such duties, PIs should remove them from the 26- account and pay them from an alternative source if possible.

Yes, as long as there are not any sponsor restrictions to this situation. If you are unsure, contact your SPAA representative.

Yes, you can reassign personnel to different projects in order to keep them employed during the pandemic. However, you will need to move the employee’s salary support to the project that is benefiting from the work. You cannot pay employees from one grant to have them work on another project.

Yes.

First, consult with the Office of Sponsored Projects to confirm that this assertion is indeed a firm rule. If it is, you may submit a research restart request to your college/school leadership to enable these personnel to return to work on campus. In your justification, be sure to mention the funder’s stipulations.

If the personnel are unable to return to work, but are of priority to retain for your research group, work with your department chair, unit director or associate dean for research to identify an alternative source of funds.

On April 16th, Dr. Preston issued this memo that provides an update on planning process for resuming on-campus research.

Please see Dr. Jaffe’s memo dated March 23rd pausing laboratory and research activities. Additional information regarding research and research policy may be found on the OVPR COVID-19 FAQ page.

Clarification on merit raise policy for postdocs and research staff funded 100% on 26 accounts:

In small research groups, loss of single critical individuals may significantly delay or make it impossible to continue externally funded research projects.

For that reason, PIs may apply for an exemption from the no-merit policy to provide pre-emptive retention recurring merit raises for research staff (NOT administrative staff) under the following conditions:

  • The staff member is critical to an ongoing project with an end date later than 8/31/21.
  • There is a strong belief that a merit raise may discourage the staff member from going on the job market in the coming year.
  • The proposed raise is modest, in recognition of the absence of recurring merit for other staff. Typically, this would be the raise amount included in your original budget to the sponsoring agency. Check with your Dean’s office about what they think is appropriate.
  • The staff member is currently paid 100% from 26 account funds.
  • Only a small fraction of grant-supported staff within the unit are being granted an exemption.

Colleges will set their own process for approval by the Dean or Dean’s designate. Pre-emptive retention merits for 26-account staff will require final approval from the Provost’s office. Please note that this information was shared with your business officers.

COGR has an information page that compiles agency and institutional responses to COVID-19.

COGR’s Frequently Asked Questions Regarding COVID-19’s Impact on Federal Awards (Version 2.1) (3/31/20) has been revised to include updates to agency guidance.

A FAQ Addendum with new FAQs that have been developed from questions from the membership which will be updated weekly as additional information becomes available.

A Federal Agency Guidance Matrix with several major grant-making agencies that will be updated weekly as additional guidance becomes available. The information is current as of 3/31.

On April 1st, DOE issued Attachment 2: DOE-NNSA Implementation of OMB Memorandum M-20-17. The purpose of the guidance is to implement flexibility authorized by OMB Memo M-20-17. DOE also issued Attachment 1 that is directed to Contracting Officers.

On March 23rd, DOE issued this Travel Guidance Memo.

On March 13th, DOE issued this memo about COVID-19 for proposers and awardees. The memo includes guidance on proposal deadlines and also an FAQ.

Yes, NIH has created an information page that contains guidance and resources for NIH applicants and recipients. This page contains previous notices issued by NIH regarding COVID-19 outbreak, and will continue to be updated by NIH with new information.

On April 16th, the NCCIH Director sent this memo providing supplemental funding guidance to grantees.

On June 9th, NIH issued Notice NOT-OD-20-123 that provides a special exception to the NIH/AHRQ/NIOSH Post-Submission Material Policy During the COVID-19 Pandemic.

On April 10th, NSF issued its implementation of OMB Memo M-20-20.

On April 1st, NSF updated its implementation of the OMB Memo M-20-17.

On March 23rd, NSF issued Important Notice No. 146.

Yes, USAMRAA created this resource page about COVID-19. The page includes FAQs for grants and cooperative agreements.

DOD has created an FAQ page for research proposers and awardees impacted by COVID-19.

CDMRP created COVID-19 FAQs for Grant Applicants and Recipients.

NASA issued their Implementation of OMB M-20-17 and compiled FAQs for Grants and Research during the COVID-19 Epidemic.

Cancer Prevention & Research Institute of Texas created an Information Page for information, guidance, and frequently asked questions related to COVID-19’s impact on CPRIT grants.

  • On April 1st, CPRIT announced they will suspend the first cycle of grant applications for fiscal year 2021 (FY 21.1).
  • All grantees must complete the Salary-Stipend worksheet and submit as part of the March-May 2020 FSR submitted for each CPRIT grant.
  • To record COVID-19 disaster related expenses, use the 2020 COVID-19 Disaster Grant Expense Claims Form. Submit the completed form in the “Ad Hoc Documents” section in CGMS along with other grant-expense supporting documentation when submitting the March 1 – May 31 FSR. CPRIT cannot complete the FSR review and approval in CGMS without this document.

Los Alamos National Laboratory issued an updated memo on 3/20/2020. The original memo was dated 3/13/2020.

NOAA issued this guidance for recipients and applicants in response to the OMB Memorandum M-20-17.

Yes, in response to the OMB memo, DOJ issued this guidance to award recipients impacted by COVID-19.

On March 26th, the Office on Violence Against Women issued this memo that provides guidance to current award recipients.

USDA NIFA updated their grants management website to provide information for proposals and awards regarding COVID-19.

FEMA will be offering a training session on Wednesday, April 8 at 1:30 pm. It covers procurement requirements under emergency and exigent circumstances. Registration is not required. Instructions for participating in the training may be accessed here.

Yes, NEA created an FAQ page about COVID-19 for proposers and awardees

  • CDC posted new guidance describing how it is implementing administrative flexibilities from OMB Memos M-20-11 and M-20-17. CDC also maintains this FAQ page that addresses COVID-19 issues for grant recipients.
  • HRSA created this FAQ page that addresses COVID-19 issues for grant recipients.
  • SAMHSA created an Information Page and an FAQ page that addresses COVID-19 issues for grant recipients.
  • Administration for Children and Families (ACF) issued Memorandum IM-ACF-OA-2020-01 that provides grant flexibilities in conducting human services activities related to or affected by COVID-19.
  • AHRQ issued Notice NOT-HS-20-010 to the research community of administrative flexibilities that apply to AHRQ applicants and recipients.

Institute of Museum and Library Services created an Information Page that addresses their implementation of OMB M-20-17 and includes FAQs.

Yes, NCURA hosted a webinar on March 26th entitled, "Research Administration in a Time of Disruption."

NCURA also created a resource center but an NCURA membership is required to access the page. OSP is monitoring all COVID-19 information and will provide all information and resources to the UT research community.

Salaries and Benefits for idled staff were an allowable expense from March 13th–May 31st.

OMB Memo M-20-17 provided federal agencies flexibility to allow salary/fringe of idled staff as a continued expense on federal awards as long as it was consistent with institutional policy. Specifically, it states, “Awarding agencies may allow recipients to continue to charge salaries and benefits to currently active Federal awards consistent with the recipients' policy of paying salaries (under unexpected or extraordinary circumstances) from all funding sources, Federal and non-Federal.”

With the change to UT Emergency Leave policy, salaries and benefits for idled staff will not be an allowable expense on sponsored funding effective June 1st.

AHA issued this letter to funding proposers and recipients.

You may continue to charge their effort to your federal grants. The White House Office of Management and Budget (OMB) has issued guidance specifically stating that federal agencies may allow recipients (UT) to continue charging salaries and benefits to grants during the COVID-19 pandemic. Individual federal agencies will likely issue more specific guidance on a per-agency basis, but that guidance will have to follow the principles outlined by OMB.

The Office of Sponsored Projects FAQ page will be updated with sponsor specific guidance related to COVID-19 as soon as it is received.

As documented in the COGR guidance, costs to projects related to contact with study participants (to guide their participation or to make arrangements for alternate plans) are allowable costs to the project. If the volume of such work involves significant amount of additional labor charges, investigators can consider requesting supplements from their funding agency. It will be important to document the actual additional cost in these circumstances to guide requests for supplemental funding or additional time.

You should not see any interruptions to your service. In the unlikely event that you do, please open a ticket with Cayuse Support via the Help Center. Cayuse offices are currently open, but all Cayuse employees have the technology necessary to work from home if need be.

No. The same IDC rate that was approved at the time your grant or contract was awarded will continue to be applied, even if you and your research staff/trainees are working 100% remotely. The reason the on-campus rate will still be applied is that the research operating costs incurred by your sponsored research activity continue to be incurred even when you are off campus - costs including building leases for your office and research space; permanent infrastructure depreciation; and salaries, health insurance and other benefits for your research administration staff, department finance support, and all the other UT employees who help you execute and administer your research without being directly billed to your grant/contract.