Flexibilities Guidance for Applicants and Recipients of Federal Financial Assistance Affected by COVID-19
In response to the COVID-19 public health emergency, the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) provided the authority for specific and time-limited flexibilities through Memorandum M-21-20. On May 11, 2023, the federal Public Health Emergency for COVID-19, declared under Section 319 of the Public Health Service (PHS) Act, expired. CDC is no longer offering the flexibilities listed below through M-21-20. The information below remains available as a reference but is no longer being updated. CDC may continue to provide administrative flexibilities as needed through other authorities – see the CDC general guidance page for more information.
On March 19, 2021, the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) issued Memorandum M-21-20, which addresses administrative relief for applicants and recipients of COVID-19 related federal financial assistance and those applicants and recipients affected by the COVID-19 pandemic. The memorandum identifies administrative flexibilities to help manage administrative, financial management, and audit requirements under 2 CFR Part 200. This guidance will reference the parallel sections found in the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) grant regulations at 45 CFR Part 75, which are applicable to CDC recipients.
CDC’s approach to the flexibilities from M-21-20 is outlined below. As noted above, these flexibilities apply not only to recipients with COVID-19 related federal financial assistance awards, but also to recipients with assistance awards not related to COVID-19 but who are affected by COVID-19. CDC’s intent is to extend these flexibilities as permitted by law and wherever possible. In addition to and consistent with the memorandum, CDC will specifically consider exceptions that can advance racial equity and support for underserved communities. The flexibilities guidance applies to awards from CDC and ATSDR.
When the CDC guidance was first posted in April of 2021, 12 flexibilities were outlined. However, as of January 2022, one of the flexibilities (Extension of Single Audit Submission) was time-limited in M-21-20 and has expired. CDC can continue to authorize the remaining flexibilities either through M-21-20 or other authorities. Note that the flexibilities are either broadly adopted (no approval action needed by CDC), or require a collaborative, case-by-case approach (recipients contact their assigned grants management specialist/program official to request the flexibility). Flexibilities 1 and 7 are broadly adopted (although recipients should be aware of the applicable documentation requirements), and the remainder are case-by-case. Where any flexibility is 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 the guidance on this webpage about administrative flexibilities, there are other resources regarding administrative relief and COVID-19 listed below. Please contact your respective grants management specialist/program official listed in your notice of award if you have questions.
- CDC’s Temporary Reassignment of Personnel Webpage provides information about how to request temporary reassignment of personnel, and how temporary reassignment is contingent upon an active, public health emergency declaration.
- Expanded Authority Fact Sheet provides information about expanded authority for carryover and the use of unobligated funds in subsequent budget periods.
- CDC’s Frequently Asked Questions (FAQS) for COVID-19 provides some more common questions received from recipients and the agency’s responses.
- Flexibility with SAM registration/recertification (45 CFR § 75.205)
The authority for this flexibility provided through M-21-20 was time limited and expired September 30, 2021.
- 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 and competitive 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 Grants.gov.
- Pre-award costs (45 CFR § 75.458)
If within the scope of the award, CDC may allow necessary pre-award costs that are incurred (i) from March 15, 2021, through the Public Health Emergency Period and (ii) prior to the effective date of a federal award. Recipients should reach out to their assigned grants management specialist/program official with questions about the availability of pre-award costs.
- No-cost extensions on expiring awards (45 CFR § 75.309)
The authority for this flexibility provided through M-21-20 was time limited and expired December 31, 2021. CDC was able to extend awards that were active as of March 31, 2021, and scheduled to expire prior or up to December 31, 2021, automatically at no cost for a period of up to 12 months. Project-specific financial and performance reports were due 90 days following the end date of the extension.However, CDC may authorize no-cost extensions on a case-by-case basis at the request of a recipient if specific conditions are met. 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 § 75.309)
The authority for this flexibility provided through M-21-20 was time limited and expired December 31, 2021.However, on a case-by-case basis, CDC may authorize a brief statement from recipients for continuation requests. Recipients should reach out to their assigned grants management specialist/program official if they anticipate the need for an abbreviated non-competitive continuation.
- Waivers from prior approval requirements (45 CFR § 75.407)
On a case-by-case basis, CDC may waive prior approval requirements as necessary to effectively address the response. 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-21-20. If a recipient anticipates needing a waiver, they should reach out to their assigned grants management specialist/program official.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 otherwise follow their agency procurement process. Recipients must document all procurement actions and maintain appropriate documents and records to support the charges against their federal awards. Recipients may be asked to provide that documentation for review.
- Extension of financial 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 or other reports up to 3 months beyond the normal due date. 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 may 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 period.
- Extension of single audit submission (45 CFR § 75.501, 45 CFR § 75.512)
This flexibility was time limited and expired on June 30, 2021. CDC recipients and subrecipients that had not yet filed their single audits with the Federal Audit Clearinghouse as of the date of the issuance of OMB Memorandum M-21-20 that had fiscal year-ends through June 30, 2021, could 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 Audit Resolution Team (ART), could also delay the completion and submission of the Single Audit reporting package up to 6 months beyond the normal due date (if they had not yet filed their single audits as of the date of the issuance of OMB Memorandum M-21-20 and had fiscal year-ends through June 30, 2021).
This extension did 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 who took 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.With the expiration of this flexibility, any recipient or subrecipient with a fiscal year-end after June 30, 2021, must submit their single audits in accordance with 45 CFR § 45.501, Audit Requirements.
- Flexibility with application deadlines (45 CFR § 75.202, 45 CFR § 75.203)
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.
- 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. 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 response.
- Management Requirement related to Physical Inventories (45 CFR § 75.320 (d) (2))
On a case-by-case basis, CDC may provide recipients up to a 12-month extension for the biennial physical inventory of equipment purchased under a federal award. A recipient should reach out to their assigned grants management specialist/program official if they anticipate needing an extension.
Last updated February 15, 2023