COVID and SMD Research Awards

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Through FY 2020, government-wide rules (in OMB memo M-20-26) allowed recipients of grants and cooperative agreements the flexibility to continue to pay salaries of participants even if they could not work because of COVID (e.g., because they could not get into the facility like a NASA center because it is closed due to COVID). This is all described in greater detail below and in the linked documents, but the bottom line is that the government-wide flexibility ended 9/30/20, so NASA has issued Grant Notice 20-02 saying that NASA will consider extending this flexibility to pay salaries on a case-by-case basis.

At the bottom of this page, you will find links to documents related to COVID and awards and directly below we summarize the essential parts of Grant Notice 20-02 that provides for those salary flexibility extensions. But the bottom line is that if you want to request salary flexibility you should write to the NASA technical POC for your award. You may look that up by ROSES program name on our program officer list or by award number on the NSSC grant status page.

Here is the core of that Grants Notice:

Requests will be considered from award recipient(s) stating that they have experienced a loss of operational capacity due to the COVID-19 pandemic and that they need to charge salaries or benefits to an active NASA award consistent with their policies of paying salaries under unexpected or extraordinary circumstances. Verify this with your organization's authorized organization representative (e.g., in your sponsored research or equivalent office) and that you have approval from them to request extending this flexibility. Recipients may also request to incur costs related to resuming activities supported by the award, consistent with applicable Federal cost principles and the benefit to the project. The request must include the award number, how long they need the flexibility to be extended, and their plans to resume activities after the extended flexibility expires.

Recipients must first exhaust other available funding sources to sustain its workforce and implement necessary steps to save overall operational costs (such as rent renegotiations). Recipients must retain appropriate records and documentation of their efforts to exhaust other funding sources, including the efforts to reduce overall operational costs. Lastly, NASA is not responsible for providing funds in addition to those already obligated to an award if the implementation of this flexibility results in a lack of award funds necessary to achieve the project’s objectives.

 

Requests for Augmentations to Existing Awards

In August of 2020 SMD put out a request for expressions of interest to gauge the community interest in Augmentations to existing awards to make up for increased costs directly attributable to the COVID-19 pandemic. SMD's priorities for funding extensions and augmentations, in the likely case that demand exceeds available funding, were captured in an SMD policy document, "Augmentations and Funded Extensions in Response to COVID-19" which gave priority to early-career scientists. At that time, we announced that proposal for COVID-related augmentations and funded extensions would be solicited as a ROSES program element.

On December 1, 2020 SMD released that call for proposals for COVID-related augmentations and funded extensions to existing awards as ROSES-2020 program element E.10 Post-COVID Recovery SMD call for Augmentations and Funded Extensions. This program element was limited to proposals from current awardees from SMD Science divisions. The priorities for funding augmentations were consistent with the previously cited policy document; proposals without any support for graduate students, postdocs or non-tenured or soft-money early-career researchers were not solicited. Existing awardees were able to submit Post-COVID-19 Recovery proposals up until March 5, 2021. Decisions have been made on some but not all of the proposals submitted in response to E.10. Proposing PIs and organizations will be notified via NSPIRES.

 

Links Related to COVID and Awards:

9/29/2020 - GN 20-02 Salary Flexibility for Grant Recipients Impacted by COVID 19
SPD-36 SMD Priorities for Funding Augmentations and Funded Extensions in Response to COVID-19
link to now expired OMB Memo, M-20-26 Extension of Administrative Relief for Recipients June 18
Link to older now expired OMB memo M-20-17 from March 19, 2020
Link to COVID-19 information for NASA Contractors

 

Questions may be directed to sara@nasa.gov