Flexibilities Available to Applicants and Recipients of Federal Financial Assistance Affected by COVID-19
The Office of Management and Budget (OMB) recently provided administrative relief for recipients and applicants of federal financial assistance impacted by COVID-19. OMB issued Memorandum M-20-17pdf iconexternal icon on March 19, 2020, providing similar administrative relief listed in Memorandum M-20-11pdf iconexternal icon to an expanded scope of recipients affected by the loss of operational capacity and increased costs due to the COVID-19 crisis. Both memoranda identify short-term administrative flexibilities to help our applicants with managing administrative, financial management, and audit requirements under 2 CFR 200, Uniform Administrative Requirements, Cost principles and Audit Requirements for Federal Awards. These flexibilities are time limited and will be reassessed by OMB within 90 days of M-20-17. The flexibilities provided for requirements under 2 CFR 200 were extended to awards issued pursuant to the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) grant regulations, found at 45 CFR 75 by the HHS Office of Acquisitions and the Office of Grants. This guidance will reference the HHS grant regulations provisions.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has reviewed the OMB memoranda, and outlined below are the ways CDC is approaching the flexibilities to best support the work of applicants and recipients. This guidance applies to awards from CDC and the Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry (ATSDR), hereafter referred to as CDC. CDC’s intent is to extend these flexibilities wherever possible. Where the flexibilities are noted as being addressed on a case-by-case basis, this is to ensure that CDC and recipients work together to consider the potential impact of the flexibility on their grant or cooperative agreement. In addition to these flexibilities, please review CDC’s Frequently Asked Questions (FAQS) for COVID-19, which address temporary reassignment of personnel (FAQ No. 8) and redirection of funds (FAQ No. 9). Please contact the project officer or grants management specialist listed in your notice of award if you have questions.
- Flexibility with SAM registration. (45 CFR § 75.205)
CDC has relaxed the requirement for active System for Award Management (SAM) registration at the time of the application. Current registrants in SAM with active registrations expiring before May 16, 2020, will be afforded a one-time extension of 60 days. At the time of award, the requirements of 45 CFR § 75.205, Federal awarding agency review of risk posed by applicants, continue to apply, so recipients must have active SAM registration prior to receiving a Notice of Award (NOA) for new awards or continuations.
- Flexibility with application deadlines. (45 CFR § 75.202)
When a delay occurs because the applicant or recipient is directly impacted by COVID-19, CDC will consider extending the application due date beyond the date specified in the Notice of Funding Opportunity (NOFO) on a case-by-case basis, in accordance with the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) Grants Policy Statement “Submitting an Application,” Part I-25-26. Please submit your request to extend the NOFO deadline to the assigned grants management specialist/program official noted in the NOFO under Agency Contacts prior to the NOFO closing date. Your request should include detail about the delay due to the COVID-19 crisis. CDC will consider your request and other potential impacts of an extended deadline such as risk to award current fiscal year funds and additional burden on recipients by placing multiple NOFO deadlines at the same time.
Flexibilities may also be available for non-competing continuations. For recipients impacted by COVID-19, CDC is working to reduce the burden associated with non-competing continuations through abbreviated non-competitive continuation requests (see No. 5 below). Please reach out to your assigned grants management specialist/program official prior to the deadline.
- Waiver for Notice of Funding Opportunities (NOFOs) Publication. (45 CFR § 75.203)
CDC will make every effort to provide applicants with adequate time to submit quality applications, should additional funding become available for COVID-19 competitive NOFOs. However, applicants should be aware that CDC may publish emergency NOFOs for less than 30 days if CDC needs to expedite the process to make funds available more quickly.
Applicants may search for applicable funding opportunities at https://www.grants.gov/.
- No-cost extensions on expiring awards. (45 CFR § 75.308)
Due to the impact of COVID-19, CDC may extend awards that were active as of March 31, 2020, and scheduled to expire prior or up to December 31, 2020, automatically at no cost for a period of up to 12 months. No-cost extensions will be considered on a case-by-case basis. When CDC provides no-cost extensions, this will allow time for recipient assessments, the resumption of many individual projects, and a report on program progress and financial status to agency staff. Project-specific financial and performance reports will be due 90 days following the end date of the extension. CDC will examine the need to extend other project reporting as the need arises. Recipients should reach out to their assigned grants management specialist/program official if they anticipate needing a no-cost extension.
- Abbreviated non-competitive continuation requests. (45 CFR § 75.308)
Due to the impact of COVID-19, CDC may accept a brief statement from recipients for continuation requests scheduled to come in from April 1, 2020, to December 31, 2020, for projects with planned future support. CDC programs will post any specific instructions in their continuation guidance. CDC will use the brief statements to verify that recipients are in a position to resume or restore their project activities and accept a planned continuation award. CDC may examine the need to extend this approach on subsequent continuation award start dates as recipients have an opportunity to assess the situation.
- Allowability of salaries and other project activities. (45 CFR § 75.403, 45 CFR § 75.404, 45 CFR § 75.405)
Recipients may 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. Recipients' pay policy must be applied consistently to all current staff, regardless of the funding source. Recipients are required to maintain records and documentation to substantiate the charging of any salaries and other project activities costs related to the interruption of operations or services, including reference to the recipients’ salary policy. Concurrent with programs, recipients will need to assess the impact on their programmatic activities that were originally funded once normal activities resume. Recipients should not assume additional funds will be available should the charging of cancellation or other fees result in a shortage of funds.
Allowability of salary is different from temporary reassignment of personnel. For information on temporary reassignment of personnel, please review the temporary reassignment webpage.
- Allowability of Costs not Normally Chargeable to Awards. (45 CFR § 75.403, 45 CFR § 75.404, 45 CFR § 75.405)
Recipients may charge costs to the award such as the cancellation of events, travel, or the pausing and restarting of grant-funded activities due to the public health emergency. Recipients are required to maintain records and documentation to substantiate the costs incurred. Recipients should not assume additional funds will be available should the charging of cancellation or other fees result in a shortage of funds. Any cost that is reimbursed to recipients (e.g., canceled airline tickets that are refunded through a voucher) needs to be accounted for by the recipient.
- Prior approval requirement waivers. (45 CFR § 75.407)
On a case-by-case basis, CDC may waive prior approval requirements as necessary to effectively address the response. If a recipient anticipates needing a waiver, they should reach out to their assigned grants management specialist/program official. All costs charged to federal awards must be consistent with federal cost policy guidelines and the terms of the award, except where specified in Memorandum M-20-17pdf iconexternal icon.
For information about redirection, see FAQ No. 9.
- Exemption of certain procurement requirements. (45 CFR § 75.328(b), 45 CFR § 75.330)
CDC waives the procurement requirements contained in 45 CFR § 75.328(b) regarding geographical preferences and 45 CFR § 75.330 regarding contracting with small and minority businesses, women's business enterprises, and labor surplus area firms. This exemption is limited to these specific procurement requirements. Recipients will still need to follow their agency procurement process. Recipients should document all procurement actions in response to COVID-19, and may be asked to provide that documentation for review.
- Extension of financial, performance, and other reporting. (45 CFR § 75.341, 45 CFR § 75.342)
On a case-by-case basis, CDC may allow recipients to delay submission of financial, performance, or other reports up to 3 months beyond the normal due date. These extensions are for reporting requirements due within the 90-day time period of the OMB Memorandum M-20-17pdf iconexternal icon. A recipient should reach out to their assigned grants management specialist/program official if they anticipate needing an extension. Determinations will be made based on recipient need and assessment of recipient’s previous progress reports, and any potential impacts on future funding amounts and awards. If CDC allows such a delay, recipients will continue to draw down federal funds without the timely submission of these reports. However, these reports must be submitted at the end of the extension.
- Extension of currently approved indirect cost rates. (45 CFR § 75.414 (c))
CDC may allow recipients to continue to use the currently approved indirect cost rates (i.e., predetermined, fixed, or provisional rates) to recover their indirect costs on federal awards. CDC may approve recipient requests for an extension on the use of the current rates for one additional year without submission of an indirect cost proposal. CDC may also approve recipient requests for an extension of the indirect cost rate proposal submission to finalize the current rates and establish future rates.
- Extension of closeout. (45 CFR § 45.381)
On a case-by-case basis, CDC may allow the recipient to delay submission of any pending financial, performance, or other reports required by the terms of the award for the closeout of expired projects, provided that proper notice about the reporting delay is given by the recipient to the agency. These extensions only apply to projects that expire during the 90-day time period of OMB Memorandum M-20-17pdf iconexternal icon. This delay in submitting closeout reports may not exceed one year after the award expires. A recipient should reach out to their assigned grants management specialist/program official if they anticipate needing an extension due to the COVID-19 crisis.
- Extension of Single Audit submission. (45 CFR § 75.512)
Due to the impact of COVID-19, CDC recipients and subrecipients that have not yet filed their single audits with the Federal Audit Clearinghouse as of the date of the issuance of OMB Memorandum M-20-17pdf iconexternal icon that have fiscal year-ends through June 30, 2020, may delay the completion and submission of the Single Audit reporting package, as required under Subpart F of 45 CFR § 45.501, Audit Requirements, to 6 months beyond the normal due date. Foreign recipients, who submit audits directly to the Financial Assessment and Audit Resolution Unit (FAARU), may also delay the completion and submission of the Single Audit reporting package to 6 months beyond the normal due date. This extension does not require individual recipients and subrecipients to seek approval for the extension by CDC, but recipients and subrecipients should maintain documentation of the reason for the delayed filing. Recipients and subrecipients taking advantage of this extension would still qualify as a "low-risk auditee" under the criteria of 45 CFR § 75.520(a), Criteria for a low-risk auditee.