COVID and SMD Research Awards

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Until recently, 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.

In addition to providing links to relevant documents and web pages, at the bottom of this page you will find a web form to facilitate grantees requesting salary flexibility extensions on a case-by-case basis as mentioned in Grant Notice 20-02. 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

On December 1, 2020 SMD released a 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 is a limited opportunity that solicits proposals from current awardees from SMD Science divisions. Cross-Division Research Awards, from Appendix E, such as Future Investigators in NASA Earth and Space Science and Technology (FINESST), are included in this opportunity. SMD's priorities for funding augmentations and extensions are captured in an SMD policy document: "SPD-36 Augmentations and Funded Extensions in Response to COVID-19". Note that due to budgetary limitations, proposals without any support for graduate students, postdocs or non-tenured or soft-money early-career researchers will not be considered. Notices of Intent are not requested. Existing awardees may submit Post-COVID-19 Recovery proposals at any time until the final due date of March 5, 2021. Requests received by January 4, 2021 will be processed as a group. Requests submitted after January 4, 2021 but before March 5, 2021 will form a second group and will be processed together.

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, are captured in an SMD policy document, "Augmentations and Funded Extensions in Response to COVID-19". That announcement indicated that the application would be in the form of a proposal submitted to a future ROSES program element. This NSPIRES Web Page is where that future program element will be posted. The text of the program element is still being finalized. When it is complete, it will be added to ROSES-2020 as program element E.10 by an amendment and an announcement will be sent to the full SMD NSPIRES mailing list. It is anticipated that the text will be released in early December. Please note that the close date shown above will NOT be the proposal due date. That date will be released with the final text and the close date above will be adjusted accordingly. It is anticipated that existing awardees may submit Post-COVID-19 Recovery proposals starting on the day of release of the call, but they will be processed in three batches: Requests received in November 2020 will be processed as a group. Due dates will set when the program elements are released.


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


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