NSF’s Implementation of OMB Memorandum M-20-26: Extension of Administrative Relief for Recipients and Applicants of Federal Financial Assistance Directly Impacted by COVID-19 due to Loss of Operations

NSF has issued guidance on NSF’s implementation of the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) Memorandum (M-20-26), entitled, Extension of Administrative Relief for Recipients and Applicants of Federal Financial Assistance Directly Impacted by the Novel Coronavirus (COVID-19) due to Loss of Operations.  NSF remains committed to working with the Administration, other federal agencies, and the research community to effectively respond to the COVID-19 national emergency.  This guidance is to implement updated guidance authorized by OMB Memorandum M-20-26 for recipients affected by COVID-19.

The guidance extends two of the short-term administrative relief from specific requirements contained in 2 CFR Part 200, Uniform Administrative Requirements, Cost Principles and Audit Requirements for Federal Awards, without compromising accountability requirements. These extensions, that go beyond what OMB previously outlined in Memorandum M-20-17, specifically pertain to the allowability of salaries and other project activities and single audit submission.  In order to support charges against NSF awards, recipients are reminded of their responsibility to maintain appropriate records and documentation to support the charges in accordance with institutional policies and procedures. OMB Memoranda M-20-17 and M-20-20 have been rescinded.

NSF has worked with colleagues at the National Institutes of Health to develop a consistent implementation which they will be issuing separately.

Questions about the policies described in the NSF Guidance should be directed to policy@nsf.gov.

Original post by Jean Feldman NSF on 6/26/2020

NSF Delays Requirement for NSF-approved Formats for Biographical Sketch and Current & Pending Support until October 1, 2020

On June 1, 2020, NSF will implement the Proposal and Award Policies and Procedures Guide (PAPPG) (NSF 20-1) for proposals submitted or due on or after this date.  The revised PAPPG implements a variety of changes and clarifications, the highest profile of which requires use of an NSF-approved format for the preparation of the biographical sketch and current and pending support.

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic and the ensuing stress on proposers, the research community has not been able to adequately prepare and train their staff for the implementation of the new requirements.

NSF has therefore made the decision to delay the requirement to use NSF-approved formats for the biographical sketch and current and pending support sections of NSF proposals until October 1, 2020.  Proposers must continue to format these documents in accordance with PAPPG requirements (see PAPPG sections II.C.2.f and II.C.2.h).  NSF encourages the community to use these formats and continue to provide valuable feedback as we enhance them for future implementation.

Over the coming week, NSF will make updates to existing policy guidance, websites and Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) to reflect the change.  NSF will communicate further with the community once these updates have been made.

Webinars covering the use of NSF-approved formats as well as all of the significant changes to the PAPPG are available on the NSF Policy Outreach website.

NSF will continue to implement all other changes to the PAPPG beginning June 1, 2020, including the following:

  • New requirement for proposing organizations to submit government-wide representations and certifications in the System for Award Management (SAM);
  •  New requirement for providing e-mail documentation of Program Officer approval for the submission of RAPID and EAGER proposals; and
  •  Clarifications to current and pending support coverage as well as other changes throughout the document.

You are encouraged to review the by-chapter summary of changes provided in the Introduction section of the PAPPG.  If you have any questions regarding these changes, please contact the DIAS/Policy Office at policy@nsf.gov.

Original post by NSF Jean Feldman on May 22, 2020

Working on an NIH Grant Application? Make Sure You Are Using the Right Forms!

NIH is transitioning to an updated set of application forms referred to as FORMS-F.  Use FORMS-F forms for grant application due dates on or after May 25, 2020 and FORMS-E for due dates on or before May 24, 2020.

For tips on navigating this transition, see their previous Nexus post, guide notices (NOT-OD-20-026NOT-OD-20-077), and the resources listed below.

Resources related to form updates:

Direct questions regarding the NIH form update to MBL OSP or:
NIH Office of Policy for Extramural Research Administration (OPERA)
Systems Policy Branch
Email: OPERAsystemspolicy@nih.gov

Original post by NIH Staff on May 12, 2020

Updates to NSF-Approved Formats for the Biographical Sketch and Current and Pending Support

Based on feedback from the community, NSF has made a number of improvements to the NSF-approved formats for the biographical sketch and current and pending support sections of proposals.  As a reminder, in accordance with the Proposal and Award Policies and Procedures Guide (PAPPG) (NSF 20-1), these formats will be required for proposals submitted or due on or after June 1, 2020.  NSF also has updated the websites for the Biographical Sketch and Current and Pending Support to further inform the community about these improvements, including updated Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs).

Biographical Sketch Improvements:

  • Permit use of “et al” for publication citations in the Products section in the event that listing multiple authors makes it difficult to fit the information into the allotted space (NSF fillable format and SciENcv format);
  • Increased space for the Products section by removing instructional text. Links added to relevant PAPPG sections (NSF fillable format);
  • Removed the requirement to include the NSF ID (NSF fillable format); and
  • Added a version date to the document (NSF fillable format).

Current and Pending Support Improvements:

  • Increased the number of Project/Proposal entries from 10 to 15 to support the majority of proposals submitted to NSF (NSF fillable format);
  • Updated the Award Number field to allow entry of both numbers and letters (NSF fillable format and SciENcv format);
  • Replaced the “Calendar Year” label with “Year” to be consistent with PAPPG guidance (NSF fillable format and SciENcv format);
  • Removed the requirement to include the NSF ID (NSF fillable format); and
  • Added a version date to the document (NSF fillable format).

NSF looks forward to your continued suggestions and improvements.  Please continue to provide comments to policy@nsf.gov.

Original post by NSF/Jean Feldman on 5/7/2020

Tips and Key Notes for Writing NSF Annual Reports! (with advice during the time of COVID-19)

NSF Implementation of OMB Memorandum M-20-17

Imagine this experience: You’ve received your first (or another) NSF award and all is going well so far. Then, at 9 months in, you receive an automated notice from NSF saying: “Your annual report for NSF award IOS-1234567 is now due.” Surprised, and perhaps a bit panicked, you wonder: what should I write about and why so soon?

This post is meant to demystify the process of preparing annual reports for NSF. These tips are provided to help guide your report; however, be sure to also check the information about annual reporting in the PAPPG 19-1. (And remember the PAPPG is updated almost every year, with a new version to go into effect for proposals submitted after June 1, 2020).

Purpose of the annual progress report: The annual report allows your managing Program Director (PD) to check on the progress of the research, identify exciting new science, learn about potential hurdles, and make sure that all is on track. NSF also extracts critical metrics from the annual reports – and this is extremely important information to demonstrate to Congress and the public the great value of taxpayer investment in NSF science and education.

Timeline for submission: The annual report is requested 90 days early to allow NSF PDs time to review the report, request changes if necessary and then process an approval. Once the award anniversary date has passed, you will get another notice warning you that the annual report is overdue and an automatic block will prevent any actions or requests such as NSF-approved no cost extensions, continuing grant increments and new awards including supplements for any PI or co-PI on your award. So, getting started early helps everyone.

Key Notes for Preparing the Annual Report: Research.gov provides government-wideMusical notes instructions that need to be followed. Here we offer advice about what makes a great annual report, and how to document your progress in both the research and broader impact activities.

Section 1: Accomplishments

  • The first section requests a statement of your major goals. These goals should not change year to year (unless you have an approved change of scope). Provide a clear explanation of the overarching purpose of the project and itemize each specific aim or objective.
  • For the rest of the report, it helps to align your activities, results and key outcomes back to the original goals and aims.
  • Yes, NSF reads the annual report! Remember, your reviewing PD is a scientist with expertise often in your area of research. Provide clear results, supportive figures and remember we love to hear about new discoveries in advance of publication! Point us in the direction you are going.
  • Use the download section for PDFs of figures or images to support your discussion of results or broader impacts. Manuscripts in preparation can be placed here as well! Many PDs are excited to see what is coming and we can then remind you to inform us when the paper is accepted for publication.
  • Remember to include your broader impacts activities! Absence of this information is one of the most frequent reasons a report may be returned to you.

Section 2: Products

  • Keep in mind that all publications derived from research on the award must include Federal acknowledgement.
  • Be sure to use the reporting function with full citation (even if you listed publications in the Accomplishments section). Only fully reported products, with DOI included, are counted. Inaccurate product reporting is another reason a report may be returned to the PI.
  • Include all products including patents pending or awarded, conference reports, book chapters, web pages, research resources and any other searchable products.

Section 3: Participants

  • All individuals who worked on the project should be entered in the searchable section, even if they did not receive funding. These participants do not need to have been listed in the original proposal, but any contribution should be recorded here.
  • Provide brief information about each participant’s role to help explain the workflow.

Section 4. Impacts

  • This is another great place to highlight the outcomes of your post-doc or student training, broader impacts activities, data products and release.
  • New collaborations that spring from the project also are good examples of impacts.

Section 5. Changes

  • Include information about any delays in budget expenditure. PDs have access to real time budget information, so it is helpful to hear about problems and plans for mitigation in the project report.
  • Let PDs know about things that might have led to a slowdown in progress on the research, things happen that are beyond your control and keeping a record of that can help make the case for a no-cost extension in the future.
  • Any changes in scope for the project should be included here, including changes in objectives, impending personnel changes, or scientific issues that are delaying the project.

What about the final report? Remember that a final report is just the last annual report, and it should not be considered a cumulative summary of progress; therefore, all the tips above also apply.

And don’t forget the Project Outcomes Report! This outcomes report is a federal requirement and is not reviewed or approved by NSF. However, the outcomes report must be completed before closing your award. Keep in mind this outcomes report should give the public a full understanding of your science and its impact!

Advice during the time of COVID-19: NSF has established a website that is updated regularly with information on how NSF is responding to the COVID-19 pandemic, nsf.gov/coronavirus. We encourage you to review the relevant documents on this site and to check it periodically for updates.

Guidance relevant to annual and final reports has been included in the NSF Implementation of OMB Memorandum M-20-17 document. As part of that guidance, please note that the extension for submission of project reports due between March 1 and April 30, 2020 is for 30 days. For any period beyond that date, you should check back on the NSF coronavirus site for further guidance.

Your managing program officer can answer any questions!

Original post by NSF on April 23, 2020

Webinar on NSF-approved Formats for the Biographical Sketch and Current & Pending Support Documents

NSF recently recorded a webinar about the requirement to use an NSF-approved format for both the biographical sketch and current & pending support documents as part of proposals submitted to NSF.  The policy, outlined in the NSF Proposal and Award Policies and Procedures Guide (PAPPG) (NSF 20-1), goes into effect for proposals submitted or due, on or after June 1, 2020.  The two NSF-approved formats are SciENcv: Science Experts Network Curriculum Vitae, and an NSF Fillable PDF.

Webinar topics include:

  • the policy guidance for preparation of the biographical sketch and current and pending support sections of the proposal;
  • a walk-through of the user experience in accessing these formats in NSF systems;
  • detailed guidance from NIH on using SciENcv for preparing both documents; and
  • answers to a number of frequently asked questions.

For additional information, see the NSF pages for the biographical sketch and current and pending support.  NSF would like your feedback on these formats prior to the June 1st requirement.  Please provide your comments and questions to policy@nsf.gov.

Original post by NSF Jean Feldman on April 16, 2020

Updated! NSF COVID-19 FAQs

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) About the Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) for National Science Foundation (NSF) Proposers and Awardees: Updated as of 3/26. READ MORE

Research.gov Expanded: Separately Submitted Collaborative Proposals from Multiple Organizations Now Available

NSF is excited to announce that effective March 30, 2020, the research community can prepare and submit separately submitted collaborative proposals from multiple organizations in Research.gov.  Proposers can now prepare Full, Research proposals in Research.gov that are:

  • Single submissions from one organization (available since April 2018)
  • Single submission collaborative proposals with subawards (available since June 2019)
  • Separately submitted collaborative proposals from multiple organizations

What’s New for Separately Submitted Collaborative Proposals?

  • Proposal Preparation: Proposers can select a separately submitted collaborative proposal as an option in the Proposal Creation Wizard and identify themselves as part of a lead or non-lead organization.
  • Linking: The lead organization can initiate a request to link proposals with non-lead organizations. However, all proposals in the collaboration must be prepared and submitted in Research.gov and cannot be a mix of Research.gov and FastLane proposals.
  • New “Submission Pending” Status: The Research.gov submission process for separately submitted collaborative proposals is different than the submission process in FastLane.
    • A new Research.gov “Submission Pending” status informs the organization that their proposal submission is pending in a queue until all linked lead and non-lead proposals in the collaboration attain “Submission Pending” status and can be submitted to NSF as a set.
    • Separately submitted collaborative proposals with a “Submission Pending” status can be edited, but the Authorized Organizational Representative (AOR) must resubmit the edited proposal to return it to a “Submission Pending” status.
    • A Proposal File Update (PFU) is not required to edit the proposal at the “Submission Pending” stage. However, a PFU could be utilized after the entire collaborative set is submitted to NSF and a proposal ID number for each separately submitted collaborative proposal is generated.
  • Submit Proposal Wizard: The AOR Submission Wizard screen will display the lead and non-lead organization information.
  • Other Related Changes:
    • Postdoctoral Mentoring Plan: A Postdoctoral Mentoring Plan is only required when funds for postdoctoral scholars are requested on the budget. A proposal compliance error will block proposal submission if there is a mentoring plan but no requested funds.
    • Print Concatenate: This functionality is available for lead and non-lead proposals.
    • New Automated Compliance Error/Warning Messages and Business Rules for Separately Submitted Collaborative Proposals: Compliance checks triggering an error will prohibit proposal submission to NSF, whereas checks triggering a warning will allow proposal submission to NSF.
    • Delete In-progress Proposals: Proposers can delete their in-progress separately submitted collaborative proposals.
    • Redesigned Research.gov “About” Page with New and Updated FAQs: Check out the redesigned Research.gov About Proposal Preparation and Submission webpage with links to new and updated Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) organized by topic.

What’s Ahead?
We are also happy to share that NSF is currently developing the following capabilities in Research.gov:

  • Other Authorized User (OAU) role changes (see Research.gov advisory currently posted)
  • Support for Single Copy Documents
  • Submission of Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) and Small Business Technology Transfer (STTR) Phase I and Phase II proposals
  • Submission of Rapid Response Research (RAPID), Early-concept Grants for Exploratory Research (EAGER), and Research Advanced by Interdisciplinary Science and Engineering (RAISE) proposals

Stay tuned for additional information from NSF about these developments in the coming months!

Help NSF Build Research.gov
Research.gov is being developed incrementally, and features will expand with the goal of eventually transitioning all proposal preparation and submission functionality from FastLane to Research.gov.  NSF strongly encourages the use of Research.gov where possible and wants feedback on your experience, so they can continue to offer a better user experience.  Please submit your feedback on the Research.gov Feedback page (select “Proposal Preparation & Submission” under the Site Area dropdown menu).

NSF would appreciate you sharing this information with your colleagues.  If you have IT system-related questions, please contact the NSF Help Desk at 1-800-381-1532 (7:00 AM – 9:00 PM ET; Monday – Friday except federal holidays) or via rgov@nsf.gov.  Policy-related questions should be directed to policy@nsf.gov.

They look forward to receiving your Research.gov proposals and your feedback about the new system!

Original post by Jean Feldman NSF on 3/31/2020

Simons Foundation: Policies and Procedures during COVID-19

The Simons Foundation understands that due to the outbreak of coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) the progress of your grant may be delayed, or you may need an extension to submit requested deliverables. Please email the Foundation at one of the emails below if you foresee any delay in the progress of your project or need additional time to submit a deliverable.

For Education & Outreach, Flatiron, Founders, and SFARI Clinical grant questions:
sfgrants@simonsfoundation.org

For Life Sciences grant questions:
lifegrants@simonsfoundation.org

For MPS grant questions:
mps@simonsfoundation.org

For SFARI Non-Clinical grant questions:
sfarigrants@simonsfoundation.org

The Simons Foundation will not consider unsolicited requests for funding.

The terms and conditions applicable to grants funded by the Simons Foundation are set forth in the Policies & Procedures document, unless otherwise specified in the award letter. Grantees and their institutions must abide by all applicable laws and regulations.

More information can be found here.

Original post by Simons Foundation; Last Updated: March 2020

DOE and Office of Science Accommodating Interruptions Due to COVID-19 with Q&As

DOE MEMORANDUM FOR APPLICANTS AND AWARDEES

FROM: CHRIS FALL, DIRECTOR, OFFICE OF SCIENCE

DATE: 3/16/2020

SUBJECT: Accommodating Interruptions from Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19)

As the Department of Energy (DOE) and Office of Science (SC) continue to monitor and examine the ongoing developments and impacts of the COVID-19 outbreak in the U.S. and internationally, we provide this update regarding associated disruptions that may have impacts on the research community. This guidance may be updated as circumstances change.

The Office of Science is assessing its current solicitations that have due dates that occur through mid-April to make a determination on extensions to those due dates. Please check the specific Funding Opportunity Announcement (FOA) or DOE Laboratory Announcement for the most up-to-date information.

A list of all FOAs and DOE Laboratory Announcements may be found at https://science.osti.gov/grants/FOAs/Open, and https://science.osti.gov/grants/Lab-Announcements/Open, respectively.

The Office of Science extends the following flexibilities to its applicants and awardees:

Applicants preparing a pre-application, letter of intent, or application:

If the lead principal investigator (PI) or the applicant institution are subject to a quarantine or a closure, deadlines for submitting pre-applications, letters of intent, or applications may be extended by no more than fourteen (14) days from the applicable due date. Please contact the Program Manager identified in the FOA or DOE Laboratory Announcement under which the pre-application, letter of intent, or application is being submitted prior to the applicable due date.

Awardees preparing progress reports:

If the lead principal investigator (PI) or the applicant institution are subject to a quarantine or a closure, progress reports for grants, cooperative agreements, and interagency awards may be submitted through the PAMS website at https://pamspublic.science.energy.gov as soon as practicable. Note that delays in submitting progress reports may cause unavoidable delays in continuation funding.

PIs from DOE National Laboratories should contact their program manager if there will be a delay in submitting progress reports.

Applicants and awardees preparing revised budgets or public abstracts:

If the principal investigator (PI) or the applicant institution are subject to a quarantine or a closure, revised budgets and public abstracts may be submitted through the PAMS website at https://pamspublic.science.energy.gov as soon as practicable. Note that delays in submission may cause unavoidable delays in making awards.

Awardees with changed travel plans:

The Office of Science will not consider changes to planned travel caused by the cancellation of meetings, quarantines, closures, or other public health measures to be a change in the scope of an award requiring agency prior approval. Rebudgeting funds that does not create a change in scope does not require agency prior approval.

If a meeting has been cancelled, awardees must follow their institutional travel policies to determine whether costs may be charged to an award. If institutional policy permits travelers to purchase nonrefundable items (airfare, lodging, or other) and does not require travelers to reimburse the institution for change or cancellation fees, such fees may be charged to an award. If institutional policy prohibits the purchase of nonrefundable travel or travelers are required to reimburse the institution for change or cancellation fees, such fees may not be charged to an award.

Please review the attached Q&As. You are encouraged to contact the Administrative Contact for the FOA/Laboratory Announcement or your Program Manager with any concerns or questions regarding your circumstances.

Questions and Answers (Q&As):

Q: The scientific conference my lab group was scheduled to attend has been cancelled. Can our costs be reimbursed?

A: Yes, if your institutional travel policy:

  1. Permits the purchase of nonrefundable travel, and
  2. Does not require reimbursing the institution for change or cancellation fees.

Priority should be on costs incurred by students and postdocs, not by their departments.

Q: My institution told all employees to work from home. May I request an extension to a deadline?

A: Working from home—while it may introduce some complications—should not make it impossible to complete work or meet deadlines. If closure or remote access orders by your institution has occurred within a week of the deadline, please contact your Program Manager.

Q: My Sponsored Research Office has been closed. How do I request a deadline extension?

A: Please contact your Program Manager and include a copy of the closure order or other official notification.

Q: My Vice President for Research, who customarily signs all applications, has been quarantined. What should I do?

A: Please work with your Sponsored Research Office to determine how your institution is handling the situation. If your institution has established delegations of authority or if your Vice President for Research is capable of electronic signatures, there should be no impact on your ability to submit an application. However, if submitting an application is impossible, please contact your Program Manager.

Q: Our postdoc was quarantined after visiting family overseas. Our experiment has fallen behind schedule. Will this delay impact our continuation funding?

A: Please explain the situation—without disclosing protected personally identifiable information—in your progress report. SC may need to modify an award to be a prudent steward of taxpayer funds by delaying access to continuation funds, but SC’s interest is in seeing the research results—even if it takes longer than originally expected.

Q: What information should I include in a request for a deadline extension?

A: Please include official confirmation of the closure, quarantine, or other incident that makes a timely submission impossible. An institutional declaration requiring staff telework, in and of itself, will not warrant a deadline extension. There must be further complications that make the original deadline impossible. Requests to extend a deadline must be made before the deadline. SC does not expect to support every request for an extension.

Q: May I submit a letter of intent, preproposal, proposal, or progress report before its deadline?

A: SC always encourages prompt and timely submissions. Progress reports may not be submitted more than one month before they are due.

 

Original post/email from DOE on 3/16/2020