3/27/20 | 3:00 pm | Office of Sponsored Programs

Summary of Updates from our Extramural Funding Sponsors and new COVID-19 funding opportunities repository.

In accordance with our weekly COVID-19 sponsored programs to update, we would like to bring to your attention four (4) areas of focus this week:

  • Information related to charging of salaries/fringe benefits to grants
  • Information regarding federal sponsors’ allowances for investigators to incur costs related to the cancellation of events, travel, or other activities necessary and reasonable for the performance of the award due to the effects of COVID-19
  • Additional updates from NIH
  • OSP has set-up a COVID-19 funding opportunities repository that is available on the OSP home page

Allowable Salary due to COVID-19

First, a word of caution – all grants are not created equal.  Funding agencies’ rules and requirements pertaining to the use of grant funding can be quite varied.  Funders might defer to our own institutional policies, or prescribe their own restrictions – which can be more stringent than our own internal policies.  For that reason, it is impossible for OSP to issue a broad statement addressing the use of grant funds, that will be applicable and accurate across all grants and all situations.  OSP continues to seek out sponsor-specific guidance and communicate those details within our community where the details exist, but the fact is that many of our sponsors simply have not yet addressed this topic specifically.  OSP staff is prepared to discuss individual situations with investigators/departments, and we encourage you to reach out to your assigned post-award grant specialist to discuss any questions/concerns you may have, particularly in those cases where sponsors have not issued guidance.  That being said, we are able to provide updates on some funders at this time, as follows:

  • Charging salaries and benefits to NIH/DoD/NSF/HRSA/SAMSA/CDC grants, when no work is being performed or there has been a change of work status because of COVID-19, is allowable since our institutional policy permits consistency across all funding sources for the charging of salaries and benefits under unexpected or extraordinary circumstances.
  • CPRIT has not yet addressed this, as it is currently seeking guidance from the Governor’s Office and the Texas Comptroller regarding CPRIT’s authority to reimburse salary when no work is being performed due to COVID-19.  We hope to have an update on this in the near future.
  • Almost all non-federal sponsors have not yet issued specific COVID-19 salary guidelines, but we are hopeful that non-federal sponsors will make full use of the same flexibilities afforded by federal agencies

Please be aware that the charging of salary on grants due to no work being performed is separate from reporting such leave in accordance with the current labor laws and emergency response acts.  As such, more information regarding the reporting of leave will be forthcoming from the Office of Human Resources.

Travel and Other Project Activity Costs Related to COVID-19

Non-refundable costs associated with grant-related travel that has been cancelled due to COVID-19 may be charged to federal grants.  In addition, federal agencies are allowing costs to be charged to grants related to other activities necessary and reasonable for the performance of the award (e.g. preservation of cell lines, or the pausing and restarting of grant funded activities due to COVID-19).  Principal investigators should contact their assigned OSP post-award grant specialist regarding any questions related to the effects of COVID-19  on their current active projects.

NIH COVID-19 Information & FAQ’s

For our NIH awarded investigators, we have previously shared links/information released by NIH on specific topics related to COVID-19, but would like to make you aware of the Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19): Information for NIH Applicants and Recipients of NIH Funding page. The NIH Office of Extramural Research (OER) has been updating this page regularly, to include links we’ve previously shared as well as new information as it is issued.  In addition, OER just put out the Open Mike blog and also this video which highlights frequently asked grant questions related to COVID-19.

COVID-19 Funding Opportunities (New and Supplemental Funds Available)

The OSP is tracking and providing a listing of COVID-19 funding and supplemental opportunities, which is available at http://research.uthscsa.edu/osp/forms/covid19.xlsx.  A link has also been added to the OSP home page (http://research.uthscsa.edu/osp/) under “Important Announcements”.

The COVID-19 funding opportunities list is an Excel spreadsheet, allowing users to more easily sort/filter/absorb the information according to their own needs.  We will be updating this spreadsheet regularly as new COVID-19 opportunities become available.  Please note that the first column of the spreadsheet provides the date that each opportunity has been added to this list, enabling users to easily browse for new entries as the list continues to be updated.  In addition, the spreadsheet also includes a date of last revision (upper right corner), for ease of use.

OSP has made some internal adjustments in order to facilitate social distancing and working remotely, but please be aware that OSP’s services, including proposal review/submission and post-award processing, remain unaffected.  We will continue to provide an update each week regarding COVID-19 as it relates to sponsored awards, or more frequently if the need arises. Thank you and please be safe.

Article Categories: Office of Sponsored Programs, Research