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3/25/2020 - Impact of COVID-19 on Sponsored Research Activities

To: Caltech Faculty and Research Administrators
From: David A. Tirrell, Provost; Kaushik Bhattacharya, Vice Provost; Richard Seligman, Associate Vice President for Research Administration

We are writing to provide a brief status report on sponsored research operations as they have been impacted by the COVID-19 situation. The Office of Sponsored Research and the Office of Export Compliance are fully operational. Staff are telecommuting, but are available to assist faculty members, grant managers, and others throughout the day with proposal submission, acceptance of incoming awards, and addressing unanticipated situations related to the impact of COVID-19 on normal campus operations. A website has been established to provide on-going guidance for proposals and awards. The url is: https://researchadministration.caltech.edu/COVID_19


Many agencies have issued deadline extensions as a result of COVID-19. Each agency has taken a slightly different approach to dealing with deadline extensions, if at all, so it's best to communicate directly with each funding agency for the latest information.

NIH has made a general statement about proposal deadlines at:

NSF has consolidated its deadline extensions at: https://www.nsf.gov/bfa/dias/policy/covid19/covid19_deadlines.pdf

Administrative Relief on Federal Awards

The Office of Management and Budget (OMB) has issued guidance allowing Federal agencies to provide some administrative relief to grantees. It will be up to each agency to issue its own implementation of the OMB recommendations. As of March 23, only NSF and NIH have issued specific instructions to grantees; links are available on the ORA COVID-19 webpage referenced above.

Charges to Federal Awards

Federal regulations take the position that charges to federal awards must be allowable under the award terms and must be consistent with institutional policy. Based on all the information provided by the Federal government thus far, funds from Federal agencies can be used to pay faculty and staff who are working on sponsored projects, whether working remotely or at their normal workplace. To the extent that a federal agency provides extraordinary administrative relief for awards impacted by COVID-19 (e.g., the cost of trip cancellation costs), these costs may only be charged to federal awards to the extent an institution's policy allows. Please continue to follow Caltech guidance when making charges to sponsored awards. Caltech HR will be issuing specific guidance for the ways in which employees' time should be recorded if impacted by COVID-19, regardless of the funding source.

Considerable detail on these topics is provided on the website. Please feel free to contact Richard Seligman or David Mayo with any questions you may have.

Richard Seligman
Associate Vice President for Research Administration

David Mayo, Director
Office of Sponsored Research