Updated Flexibilities Guidance for Applicants and Recipients of Federal Financial Assistance Affected by COVID-19: July 27, 2020


The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has updated its guidance for CDC and Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry (ATSDR) (collectively “CDC”) grants and cooperative agreements (collectively “grants”) recipients and applicants in accordance with the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) Memorandum M-20-26pdf iconexternal icon. The guidance outlines 1) the two flexibilities from M-20-26 which apply to recipients impacted by COVID-19 and 2) the expired flexibilities from M-20-11 and M-20-17.

In relevant part, the latest OMB memorandum (M-20-26pdf iconexternal icon) specifies:

  • Two of the flexibilities in M-20-17 are extended with modifications through September 30, 2020:
    • Allowability of Salaries and Other Project Activities. Note: modifications are related to avoiding duplication of reimbursement and the requirement for recipients to exhaust other available funding sources to sustain the workforce and take steps to save overall operational costs.
    • Extension of Single Audit Submission. Note: modifications are related to requirements for COVID-19 Emergency Acts Fund Reporting.
  • M-20-17pdf iconexternal icon is otherwise rescinded
  • M-20-11pdf iconexternal icon expired on July 26, 2020
  • Agencies continue to have the ability to issue exceptions on a case-by-case basis in accordance with 2 CFR § 200.102, Exceptions

The OMB memoranda cite to 2 CFR Part 200. However, the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) and CDC rely on grant regulations that parallel 2 CFR Part 200, which are found at 45 CFR Part 75. Accordingly, this guidance will refer to applicable provisions in 45 CFR Part 75.

CDC remains committed to working closely with recipients to reduce administrative burden where needed due to the COVID-19 pandemic in accordance with 45 CFR § 75.102, Exceptions. Please contact the project officer or grants management specialist listed in your notice of award if you have questions.

Should OMB and/or HHS provide any additional flexibilities and/or guidance, CDC will update this guidance accordingly.

In addition to the updates on this webpage about OMB administrative flexibilities, please be aware of other resources regarding administrative relief and COVID-19:

Section 1: CDC Guidance for Recipients Affected by COVID-19 (OMB M-20-26)

Per OMB M-20-26, CDC’s approach to the two flexibilities below applies to recipients affected by COVID-19 (for both recipients with COVID-19 related grants and other types of CDC grants). These two flexibilities were initially included in M-20-17 and were modified by OMB and extended through September 30, 2020. The remaining flexibilities from M-20-17 are no longer available (see the next section of the guidance for a listing and additional details about the expired flexibilities).

  1. Allowability of Salaries and Other Project Activities (45 CFR § 75.403, 45 CFR § 75.404, 45 CFR § 75.405)

    On a case-by-case basis, CDC may allow recipients 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. CDC may also allow recipients to charge other costs to CDC awards, including those necessary to resume activities supported by the award, consistent with applicable federal cost principles and the benefit to the project.

    CDC may evaluate the recipient's ability to resume the project activity in the future and the appropriateness of future funding, as done under normal circumstances based on subsequent progress reports and other communications with the recipient. Under this flexibility, payroll costs paid with the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) loans or any other federal Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act programs must not be also charged to current federal awards as it would result in the federal government paying for the same expenditures twice. Recipients must maintain appropriate records and cost documentation as required by 45 CFR § 75.302 – Financial management and standards for financial management systems and 45 CFR § 75.361 – Retention requirement for records to substantiate the charging of any salaries and other project activities costs related to interruption of operations or services. Documentation should include reference to the recipient’s salary policy. Due to the limited funding resources under each federal award to achieve its specific public program goals, recipients must exhaust other available funding sources to sustain its workforce and implement necessary steps to save overall operational costs (such as rent renegotiations) during this pandemic period in order to preserve federal funds for the ramp-up effort. Recipients should retain documentation of their efforts to exhaust other funding sources and reduce overall operational costs.

    Allowability of salaries is different from temporary reassignment of personnel. For information on temporary reassignment of personnel, please review the Temporary Reassignment of Personnel webpage.

  2. Extension of Single Audit Submission and COVID-19 Emergency Acts Fund Reporting (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 March 19, 2020, that have normal due dates from March 30, 2020, 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, up to six (6) months beyond the normal due date. Audits with normal due dates from July 31, 2020, through September 30, 2020, will have an extension up to three (3) months beyond the normal due date. Foreign recipients, who submit audits directly to the Audit Resolution Team (ART), may also delay the completion and submission of the Single Audit reporting package up to six (6) months beyond the normal due date (if the normal due date was from March 30, 2020, through June 30, 2020) or up to three (3) months beyond the normal due date (if the normal due date was from July 31, 2020, through September 30, 2020). To easily determine the extended due date applicable to a specific award, please refer to the fact sheet, Determining Due Dates for Single Audit Extensionspdf icon.

    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.

    Additionally, in order to provide adequate oversight of the COVID-19 Emergency Acts funding and programs, recipients and subrecipients must separately identify the COVID-19 Emergency Acts expenditures on the Schedules of Expenditures of Federal Awards and audit report findings.

Section 2: Expired Flexibilities (OMB M-20-11 and M-20-17)

M-20-11 and M-20-17 and the flexibilities listed below are expired. If a recipient anticipates needing any of the expired flexibilities, they should contact their assigned grants management specialist/program official. CDC will review flexibility requests on a case-by-case basis in accordance with 45 CFR § 75.102, Exceptions.

  • Flexibility with SAM registration (45 CFR § 75.205)
  • Flexibility with application deadlines (45 CFR § 75.202)
  • Waiver for Notice of Funding Opportunities (NOFOs) publication (45 CFR § 75.203)
  • Pre-award costs (45 CFR § 75.458)
  • No-cost extensions on expiring awards (45 CFR § 75.308)
  • Abbreviated non-competitive continuation requests (45 CFR § 75.308)
  • Allowability of costs not normally chargeable to awards (45 CFR § 75.403, 45 CFR § 75.404, 45 CFR § 75.405)
  • Prior approval requirement waivers (45 CFR § 75.407)
  • Exemption of certain procurement requirements (45 CFR § 75.328(b), 45 CFR § 75.330)
  • Extension of financial, performance, and other reporting (45 CFR § 75.341, 45 CFR § 75.342)
  • Extension of currently approved indirect cost rates (45 CFR § 75.414 (c))
  • Extension of closeout (45 CFR § 45.381)
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Page last reviewed: September 9, 2020