COVID-19 Information

Coronavirus (COVID-19) Research-Related Updates

Last updated 4/2/2020

The University of Maine and University of Maine at Machias continue to closely monitor the coronavirus/COVID-19 pandemic and are actively engaged with the University of Maine System in daily planning to inform and reduce risk to faculty, staff and students. The University of Maine System has transitioned to remote or telecommuting to the maximum extent possible, from March 19 through May 17.   Research should be done remotely if possible, or delayed.  We recommend visiting this page frequently for changes and updates as they develop. 

This update (4/2/2020) includes important information on:

  • Proposal deadlines and submission timeline
  • Communicating with Sponsors (using C19 in email subject line)
  • Leave time and travel cancellation policies (allowable costs)

The Council on Governmental Relations (COGR) has compiled the following summaries and resources to help organizations navigate the evolving landscape and federal sponsor responses to COVID-19.

COGR Resources:

  • FAQ Addendum with new FAQs that have been developed from questions from the membership which will be updated weekly as additional information becomes available.
  • 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 3/31/20.

Proposal Deadlines and Award Acceptance

In general, we expect that the Office and Research Administration (ORA) will be able to submit proposals, negotiate and accept awards, and issue subcontracts/subawards even as staff are working remotely.  However, faculty and staff who have upcoming application deadlines should be prepared for delayed responses from ORA staff and should adjust application preparation timelines accordingly.

COVID-19 Research Submissions

Proposals related to COVID-19 and its long term effects will receive submission priority

Communicating COVID-19 Impacts with Sponsors

Please follow these steps to communicate COVID-19 impacts to your sponsored program to fulfill sponsor documentation requirements.

  • Reach out to the Program Officer by email
  • Use: “C19” as a prefix and list the Award Number in the subject line
    • g. C19-1923456
  • CC: the grant or contract administrative rep, e.g.:
    • Grants Management Specialist (NIH grant)
    • Grant Officer (other federal grants)
    • Contracting Officer (federal contracts)
  • CC: ora@maine.edu

Describe the specific situation & inability to carry out specific aspects of the research, delays, etc.

ORA will document the communication in ImageNow, and will be available to confirm as the authorized official or help respond to follow-up questions.

Charging COVID-19 Leave Time to Sponsored Projects

On March 23, 2020, the University of Maine System issued guidance on how to track salaries and wages related to COVID-19 leave time:

COVID-19 related leave time from March 15th through April 4th will be charged to the Peoplesoft chartfield(s) that covers that individual’s base pay, which is determined by the most recent Appointment or Earnings Distribution Form.  If an individual’s base pay is distributed among several chartfields, then the COVID-19 related leave time will be allocated to those chartfields based on the current distribution.

The Office of Research Administration will seek sponsor approval for any COVID-19 related leave time charged to sponsored activity.  The timing of these requests has not been determined.  If deemed allowable by the sponsor, the COVID-19 related leave time will remain in the sponsored project accounts.  If deemed unallowable by the sponsor, the COVID-19 related leave time will be transferred off the sponsored project accounts.  Guidance on whether these unallowable salaries and wages will be charged to closing accounts or will be centrally funded is forthcoming.  We recommend that PIs communicate with their sponsors, using the guidance offered above, if allowable COVID-19 related leave time causes their sponsored project to go over budget once normal operations resume.  More guidance on this topic will be forthcoming

Sponsor Specific Guidance on COVID-19 Leave Time

This list will be updated as sponsors provide official guidance.

Travel Cancellation Costs Allowable as a Direct Charge to Sponsored Projects

The following sponsors allow nonrefundable travel expenses (airfare, lodging and other) incurred for travel canceled due to COVID-19 as long as Grantees follow applicable university policies on allowable expenses for travel.

In order for nonrefundable travel expenses related to COVID-19 to be allowable, the Grantee:

  • Must make every effort to obtain a full or partial refund from the vendor (airline, hotel, conference organizer, car rental, etc.),
  • Must document that the request for a refund was denied,
  • Retain documentation of the request and denial at the departmental level,
  • Must not assume that supplemental funding will be available to cover these costs.

Travel Refunds, Credits and Vouchers

  • Any travel refunds must be applied to the same source that the purchase was made.
  • Travel credits or vouchers should be applied to the same source that the purchase was made. If this is not possible, then the credit or voucher may be used for another program as long as the original project is credited for the equivalent dollar amount through a cost transfer.  The cost transfer must be submitted to ORA within 90 days of when the credit or voucher is applied.

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Federal Agencies and Other Sponsor Updates

On March 9, 2020, The Office of Management and Budget (OMB) issued Memorandum M-20-11 which identified federal agency actions to relieve short term administrative, financial management and audit requirements under 2 CFR 200, Uniform Administrative Requirements, Cost principles and Audit Requirements for Federal Awards related to research and services necessary to carry out the emergency response related to COVID-19.  On March 19, OMB issued Memorandum M-20-17 which expanded these actions to other recipients affected by the loss of operational capacity and increased costs due to the COVID-19 crisis.  The OMB memo does not authorize recipients to undertake any of the listed actions or to charge any of the mentioned costs to an Award. It only gives other federal agencies the authority to issue exceptions in accordance with the Memo.  Specific sponsor adoption of these actions are outlined in the following sections.

 

Some agencies have released specific guidance related to COVID-19, while others have not yet. We will keep this site updated with agency guidance as available.

Corporation for National and Community Service

 

NASA

National Endowment for the Humanities

National Institutes of Health (NIH)

National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA)

National Science Foundation

Department of Defense

USAMRAA’s

USDA NIFA

 

Office of Management and Budget (OMB)

Council on Governmental Regulations (COGR)