On March 12, 2020 and March 19, 2020, the U.S. Office of Management and Budget (OMB) released memorandums M-20-11 and M-20-17 (hereafter, “memos”), respectively, regarding the Administrative Relief for Recipients and Applicants of Federal Financial Assistance Directly Impacted by the Novel Coronavirus (COVID-19) due to Loss of Operations. The OMB guidance was issued to facilitate continued research and services necessary to carry out the emergency response related to COVID-19 and in recognition that COVID-19 has caused significant challenges to the operations of grant recipients across the country.
The memos provide relief and flexibility in several key areas. Perhaps most notably, the guidance provides for a 6-month extension of the federal single audit submission deadline for fiscal year ends through June 30, 2020. This extension applies to grant recipients who have not filed as of the date of the memos and does not require individual approval prior to it being taken, however documentation supporting the reason of the delay should be maintained.
In addition to the above, general guidance was issued specifically to awarding agencies. Flexibility may be provided at the option of the awarding agency in the following areas:
- Relaxed requirements for active System for Award Management (SAM) registration status at the time of registration in order to expedite funding.
- Flexibility with application deadlines.
- To the extent permitted by law, up to a 12-month extension may be issued for awards active as of March 31, 2020 and scheduled to expire prior or up to December 31, 2020 (with project-specific reporting requirements adjusted accordingly).
- Issue abbreviated continuation requests scheduled to come in during the period of April 1, 2020 to December 31, 2020.
- Allow recipients to continue to charge salaries and benefits to currently active federal awards consistent with the recipients’ policy of paying salaries (under unexpected or extraordinary circumstances) from all funding sources, federal and non-federal.
- Allow other costs incurred related to certain activities stemming from the public health emergency such as costs to resume activities supported by the award, costs associated with cancelling events, travel, or other activities necessary and reasonable for the performance of the award.
- Waive prior approval requirements as necessary to effectively address the response.
- Waive certain procurement requirements (regarding geographical preferences, contracting small and minority businesses, women’s business enterprises, and labor surplus area firms).
- Allows extensions for financial, performance and other reports up to three months beyond the normal due date.
- Allow grantees to continue to use the currently approved indirect cost rates to recover their indirect costs on federal awards. Extensions of the current expiring rate can be granted for one additional year without submission of indirect cost proposal.
- Allow grantees to delay submission of any pending financial, performance or other reports required to close out expired projects. Delay cannot exceed one year after award expires.
- Allow for publishing of Notice of Funding Opportunities (NOFOs) for less than thirty days for competitive grants and cooperative agreements.
In all the above cases the grantor agencies should provide guidance specifically on any actions that they are allowing, and grant recipients should reach out to grantors in the absence of clarifying guidance. Documentation of any exceptions, extensions, or changes utilized by grantees and allowed by awarding agencies should be maintained.
The below are links to the aforementioned memos. Please note, these exceptions are time limited and OMB will be reassessing these exceptions within 90 days of the March 19, 2020 memo.
M-20-11 Memo (March 9, 2020)
M-20-17 Memo (March 19, 2020)