COVID-19 FAQ

The Office of Research and Project Administration (ORPA) and Sponsored Research Accounting (SRA) continue to closely monitor the rapidly-evolving situation regarding COVID-19, and its impacts on sponsored programs at the University. Listed below are links to government and sponsor specific guidance as well as Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) regarding this public health event and its impact on University research.  This webpage will be updated frequently as new information is received.

Please submit any general or specific questions related to the impacts of COVID-19 on your research to your related ORPA GCA.

Updated 3-27-20

Availability of Research Support Operations

Are ORPA personnel and services available now?

ORPA is operating normally and is planning to continue to do so for the foreseeable future. As usual,  please feel free to reach out to your GCA with any questions.  We encourage questions related to the impact of COVID-19 on specific sponsored programs.  We will communicate any changes in operations via our ORPANews listserv and this website.

Are Sponsored Research Accounting personnel and services available now?

SRA is operating normally and is planning to continue to do so for the foreseeable future. As usual, please feel free to reach out to your SRA analyst with any post-award questions.  We encourage questions related to the impact of COVID-19 on specific sponsored programs.  We will communicate any changes in operations via the SRA listserv and this website.

How do I join the ORPANews and SRA listservs?

See ORPANews listserv on the ORPA website.  You can also send an email to ORPANews-request@princeton.edu.  Any questions can be directed to Maureen Thompson-Siegel at mthompso@princeton.edu.

To join the SRA listserv, please send an email to sra@princeton.edu and request to be added to their mailing list.

Agency Specific COVID-19 Updates

Where can I find information from Federal sponsors regarding COVID-19?

Updated 3/27/20

National Institutes of Health (NIH)

National Science Foundation (NSF)

US Department of Energy

United States Army Medical Research Acquisition Activity (USAMRAA)

Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA)

Department of Defense (DOD)

National Air and Space Administration (NASA)

National Endowment for the Arts (NEA)

National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH)

New Jersey State Council on the Arts (including other arts agencies)

Institute of Museum and Library Services

 

Where can I find information from non-federal sponsors regarding COVID-19?

Updated 3/24/20

The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation

The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation

The MacArthur Foundation

The John Templeton Foundation

American Heart Association

Where can I find information from national associations regarding COVID-19?

Updated 3/20/20

Council on Governmental Relations (COGR)

Where can I find the latest guidance from the Office of Management and Budget (OMB)?

Added 3/20/20

Proposal Deadlines

May I request an extension to a proposal deadline if I am self-isolated, in quarantine, and/or at home caring for a sick family member and cannot meet the published proposal deadline?

Updated 3/17/20

Most federal agencies, including NIH and NSF, do not grant prior approval for late submissions; however, there are existing policies that address extenuating circumstances.  Current NIH guidance can be located at NOT-OD-15-039 and Special Exceptions to NSF’s Deadline Date Policy (PAPPG 19-1).  We strongly encourage you to discuss your specific situation with both your agency program officer and your ORPA GCA for further guidance.

Also see:

What is the impact on proposal deadlines and notices of award?

Updated 3/27/20

Our federal sponsors are monitoring the situation closely and may extend application deadlines if conditions associated with COVID-19 worsen. If federal agencies officially close, solicitation issuance may slow or cease, submitted proposals will most likely remain in a queue and awards may be delayed, pending resumption of normal operations – as has been the case during federal budget-related shutdowns.  Updates will be posted here as more information is available.

Per NIH

A primary concern of NIH applicants is how to handle when an institution is closed due to natural disaster or other emergency situation. In these cases, it is not necessary to get permission in advance for delays in grant application submissions.  Instead, applications submitted late must include a cover letter indicating the reasons for the delay.  The delay should not exceed the time period that the applicant organization is closed.  Although NIH will often issue a Guide Notice reminding applicants of this policy during times of major emergencies, this policy will also apply to emergencies of a more limited or local nature not discussed in a separate NIH Guide Notice.”

Per NSF:

Researchers or sponsored projects office staff from organizations that have been affected and are unable to meet stated NSF deadlines should contact the cognizant NSF program office to discuss the issue. NSF will consider extensions to the submission deadline on a case-by-case basis (and, in a few cases, on a program-by-program basis), understanding that it may be particularly difficult for individuals impacted to contact NSF. See NSF PAPPG Chapter I.F for additional information on procedures for submitting such requests.”

NSF - Impact on Existing Deadline Dates - 3/17/20

My research lab was closed down due to COVID-19. May I request an proposal deadline extension?

Added 3-16-20

NIH issued a notice, NIH Statement on Late Applications Due to COVID-19, on March 10, 2020 to address late submissions. 

When delays occur because the applicant or recipient organization is officially closed or unable to submit grant applications due to the effects of COVID-19, the NIH will consider accepting applications late, on a case-by-case basis, in accordance with the NIH Grants Policy Statement, Section 2.3.9, under the following circumstances:

  • Institutions must submit applications or reports as soon as possible after reopening or resuming operations so that grant applications can be submitted, not to exceed the number of days the institution was officially closed or unable to submit grant applications.
  • Institutions must submit a cover letter with the applications with enough detail about the delay so that NIH staff can make a determination whether circumstances justify accepting the application late.
  • Institutions need not request advance permission to submit late due to this declared emergency.

NSF (FAQ # 17) also states that researchers or sponsored projects office staff from organizations that have been affected and are unable to meet stated NSF deadlines should contact the cognizant NSF program office to discuss the issue. NSF will consider extensions to the submission deadline on a case-by-case basis (and, in a few cases, on a program-by-program basis), understanding that it may be particularly difficult for individuals impacted to contact NSF.

We will post other agency information as it is available.  If you have questions contact your ORPA GCA.

Allowable Costs, Charges, Effort on Sponsored Projects

I am a researcher working remotely from home during self-isolation. Can my effort still be charged to the award?

In general, yes, provided you remain appropriately engaged in your project.  

I am a researcher required to work from home as a result of COVID-19. Am I able to charge supplies relating to working from home (i.e. laptop, printer, office supplies, etc.) to my award?

These types of expenses are considered administrative costs and are generally not appropriate to be charged as a direct cost to the award unless specifically approved by the sponsor.  Please speak with your departmental administrator/supervisor about your needs in order to be set up to work from home.

I am home sick and cannot work on my research project. Can my salary still be charged to the award?

Princeton's policies permit sick leave and other paid absences.

Is there any sponsor-related guidance on this topic?

The National Institutes of Health (NIH) released NOT-OD-20-086 (3/12/20)-  Flexibilities Available to Applicants and Recipients of Federal Financial Assistance Affected by COVID-19.  This notice includes guidance on:

  • Pre-award costs
  • Extension of post award financial or other reporting
  • Prior approval requirement waivers
  • Cost related flexibilities/expenditure of award funds
    • Salaries
    • Stipends
    • Travel
    • Conference registration fees
    • NIH-supported meetings and conferences
    • Extension of closeout
    • Extension of single audit submission
A postdoc in my lab left to visit family in a CDC Level 3 country and is unable to return. He/she has been absent for 2 weeks and will be away for an undetermined period of time. Can I continue to charge their salary to the grant?

Added 3-16-20

If the postdoc can work remotely and contribute to the project, then salary can be charged to the grant.

If the postdoc cannot work remotely, and no contribution can be made to the project, NIH is allowing salary to continue to be charged to the award (see NOT-OD-20-086).

While we await information from other sponsors continue to charge the salary to the award knowing that it may have to be removed later.

 
 
For staff working remotely, can the effort still be charged to a sponsored project?

Added 3-16-20

If the individual is working remotely and contributing to the project, then salary can be charged to the grant.

If an individual cannot contribute to their current project but can contribute to another sponsored project or activity, the salary must be moved to that funding source.

 

May National Research Service Award (NRSA) trainees and fellows, who receive stipends rather than salaries, continue to receive stipend payments if they are unable to work as a result of COVID-19?

Added 3/17/20

Yes, stipend payments may continue to be charged to NIH NRSA grants affected by COVID-19. Recipients should notify the Grants Management Specialist named in the notice of award and provide documentation demonstrating the effect of COVID-19, and how long the institution will be affected.

 

Does NIH have the authority to continue stipends? If so, are the stipends time-limited?

Added 3/17/20

Charges beyond 90 days will need to be reviewed and carefully considered on a case by case basis. Documentation to support this hardship must be submitted to the funding ICs grants and program officials.

Research Related Travel

I was planning to travel to a conference to present my research work supported by my grant but the conference was canceled due to COVID-19 precautions. May I still charge the travel-related costs to the grant?

Updated March 17, 2020

To date, there is limited federal guidance relating to charges to awards for non-refundable travel, conferences, and related expenses due to COVID-19.

The NIH has addressed the allowability of such expenses in NOT-OD-20-086 under the "Travel" category. 

The Department of Energy has developed a short FAQ addressing travel cancellations and reimbursements.

Other sponsoring agencies have not yet issued guidance on non-refundable travel costs.  Princeton will provide further updates as federal agencies address COVID-19 related non-refundable travel.  Until that time please keep charges on the original source that was intended to benefit from the purpose of the travel.  If agencies issue alternative guidance, these expenses will need to be removed.

Please continue to follow the University Travel Policy and general cost principles described in the Uniform Guidance and adhere to the current University restrictions on travel.

Additionally, please retain documentation relating to the cancellation costs charged to a grant, including good faith efforts to obtain refunds or credits, in accordance with record retention requirements. 

I was planning to travel to visit a lab to conduct work, meet with a collaborator, etc. but cannot because of travel restrictions relating to COVID-19. What should I do?

The University currently prohibits travel to some locations, and all non-essential University-sponsored travel should be postponed or canceled. The University’s COVID-19 website addresses specific travel restrictions.

Can I charge trip cancellation insurance to my grant?

Trip cancellation insurance is typically unallowable on grants. However, we are monitoring any additional guidance the federal government may issue related to travel. If you need to travel in the coming months to conduct business for a sponsored project, and you want to purchase trip cancellation insurance, you may reach out to your assigned GCA to request prior approval from the sponsor to charge this cost to the grant.

I was planning to host a conference on Princeton’s campus this semester/summer? Am I still permitted to move forward with the planning?

Updated 3/16/20

Please reach out to the event venue you have contracted with to see what flexibility they will provide and what the penalties may be for canceling or postponement.  Keep concise records of this interaction.  

Please contact your ORPA GCA  or your SRA Analyst to discuss your specific situation and how to best coordinate outreach to the sponsoring agencies.

I purchased airfare on a grant for a conference and it was cancelled due to COVID-19 precautions. The airline offered a credit for future travel. Can the cost of the airfare and any associated fees be charged to the grant?

Added 3-16-20

If you plan to travel for the same grant, then yes.  The credit should be tracked to ensure it's used to directly benefit the same grant that incurred the cost.  If you plan to use the credit for other travel in support of other research (not related to the grant that funded the airfare) or another University activity, then the change should be journaled to the appropriate funding source to align the airfare cost with the chart string that will benefit from the travel.  

Be sure to retain all applicable documentation. 

Research-Related Activities - Programmatic Impacts

Some research projects have a rigid timeline and we would have a scope of work timeline violation if we deviate from that. Therefore, there are concerns about a slow down or gap in activities or if staff need to work from home.

Clearly COVID-19 is an extraordinary circumstance. In general, if you have concerns related to project timelines or milestones, please reach out to your ORPA GCA. It may be appropriate to open a conversation with the sponsor regarding the situation.

Should I notify my sponsor if certain project activities of a funded research project cannot be completed or have to be suspended as a result of COVID-19?

Yes.  Please coordinate any such communication to a sponsor with ORPA.  Examples of impact include: canceling a funded conference, inability to conduct fieldwork because of travel restrictions, inability to meet the scheduled deliverables or aims/goals/SOW, absence of PI or key person for more than 90 days.  

Will agencies consider longer no cost time extensions if needed to finish a project after disruption?

Researchers should document the actual impact of COVID-19 on the progress of their sponsored projects to provide details for any future no-cost time extension request.  It is not known at this time if agencies will consider longer-than-normal no cost time extensions, or multiple no-cost time extensions in this situation.  For most federal research grants, Princeton has the authority to grant a first no-cost time extension up to 12 months in duration.

I have a progress report due in the near term and my research has been impacted by COVID-19. Should I include information related to the impact in my progress report?

Yes. If your research is impacted, this information should be documented in your progress report. Feel free to reach out to your ORPA GCA with questions on specifics.

I am experiencing delayed subject recruitment and/or cancellations of scheduled follow-up visits with my study participants, and it is negatively affecting the progress on my grant. What should I do?

For programmatic issues affecting your study, we recommend you engage your agency program officer or other sponsor contact. Please coordinate any such correspondence to the sponsor or actions with your departmental grants manager and your ORPA GCA. If any issues should persist, they may need to be reported in future progress reports, or you may need a no cost extension to complete your project. 

I am experiencing supply-chain delays in crucial supplies/equipment that is negatively impacting the progress of my research. What should I do?

We recommend that researchers begin a conversation with their program officers as soon as they anticipate delays of any kind on their sponsored projects, including progress reporting delays.  Remember to engage your departmental grants manager and your ORPA GCA on this correspondence.

I have a sponsored project with an end date within the next six months and I am concerned that COVID-19-related issues or delays may impact my ability to complete the research in a timely manner. What is the recommended course of action?

We recommend that you work with your departmental grants manager and your ORPA GCA to request a no-cost extension for the project.

 

What is the contingency plan for research animal care?

As always, Laboratory Animal Resources (LAR) is committed to providing Princeton University’s research community with resources, expertise, and guidance for high-quality and ethical care of animals used in research and teaching activities. LAR is prepared to care for our laboratory animals during disruptive events.  Questions regarding animal care should be directed to lar@princeton.edu.

I am performing human subjects research and need to complete a survey. COVID-19 recommendations of social distancing dictate that interviews should not be conducted in person. May I continue to collect data/follow up with study subjects via telephone

Yes.