Updates on the US federal government’s response to COVID-19 and research opportunities.
National Science Foundation (NSF)
On June 25, NSF issued new guidance in response to the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) Memorandum M-20-261 “Extension of Administrative Relief for Recipients and Applicants of Federal Financial Assistance Directly Impacted by the Novel Coronavirus (COVID19) due to Loss of Operations.” The guidance extends administrative relief regarding the allowability of salaries and other project activities and single audit submission. The NSF guidance states, “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.” NSF has collaborated with the National Institutes of Health (NIH) to develop consistent implementation of the OMB memo that NIH will issue separately. Read the NSF statement.
On June 23, NSF announced it would extend the deadline for the Faculty Early Career Development Program (CAREER) to Tuesday, August 11, 2020. The announcement states that “eligibility requirements specified in the solicitation remain unchanged, and proposers must meet all of the eligibility requirements as of the original deadline of July 27, 2020.” NSF strongly encourages proposals be submitted on or before the original July 27 deadline to ensure that the review process can be completed on schedule.
On June 17, NSF updated its chart of deadline extensions in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. These include both solicitations and Dear Colleague Letter extensions. If a program is not included in this chart, PIs should assume the deadline has not changed, but can contact the program director with any individual concerns or issues.
On June 9, NSF issued a Dear Colleague Letter (DCL) titled “IUCRC Program Policy Flexibility in Response to the COVID-19 Pandemic Situation.” The DCL offers guidance for IUCRCs with active NSF grants on how to manage challenges associated with the COVID-19 pandemic, especially 20 related to industry membership commitments. The DCL (available here) will be updated as needed, and the current guidance is applicable through December 31, 2020.
The 2020 NSF Proposal and Award Policy and Procedures Guide will go into effect as planned on June 1. However, due to the COVID-19 pandemic, NSF is delaying until October 1 implementation of the new requirement to use NSF-approved formats for the biographical sketch and current and pending support sections of proposals. Other new requirements and changes will continue to go into effect June 1.
National Institutes of Health (NIH)
NIH has created a central site for its current guidance at https://grants.nih.gov/grants/natural_disasters/corona-virus.htm.
Research & Funding Opportunities
- On June 22, NSF released a Dear Colleague Letter (DCL) for the Civic Innovation Challenge (CIVIC) program to inform proposers that research related to pandemics is considered appropriate for this competition. NSF also extended the deadline for Stage 1 proposals until August 3, 2020. CIVIC was announced earlier this year and is led by the Computer and Information Science and Engineering (CISE) Directorate in partnership with other select NSF directorates and involvement from other federal agency partners. With the DCL, NSF announced that the NSF Division of Civil, Mechanical and Manufacturing Innovation (CMMI) within the Engineering Directorate has joined the program as well. CIVIC has tracks on Communities and Mobility and Resilience to Natural Disasters. NSF shared in the DCL that proposals that address “resilience to pandemics or mobility in the face of pandemics,” encompassing both tracks, are appropriate. Proposed research areas are not required to connect to pandemics, but NSF notes that topics related to the existing COVID-19 pandemic or future pandemics, as well as the compounding challenge of disasters during a pandemic, are acceptable. More information is available here.
This information was prepared by Lewis-Burke Associates and curated by Shandrea Stallworth, Early Career Representative on ASPB’s Science Policy Committee. Information about ASPB’s response to COVID-19 can be found here.
If you are interested in helping the effort to combat the spread of COVID-19, FEMA has established a website with more information.