COVID-19 Guidance and Resources
The University continues to work on contingency plans as operations change to manage the impact of COVID-19 on our research efforts. The Office of Sponsored Research (OSR) remains committed to ensuring that our obligations to support and contribute to the research operations and at the University are met. Below, please find guidance, resources and FAQs concerning impacts of COVID-19 relevant for the research community. Any questions for immediate assistance may also be directed to ResAdminOSR@unc.edu.
Last updated: 06/01/2020
- 03/13/2020 – Federal Sponsor Updates
- 03/16/2020 – OSR Continuity of Operations While Teleworking
- 03/24/2020 – Federal Sponsor Updates
Overview and on Reduced Operations
Beginning Friday, March 20, 2020, the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill (University) significantly reduced operations on campus as a response to the COVID-19 outbreak and in order to comply with State guidance.. Research that could be conducted remotely was encouraged as much as possible to enable the University’s research enterprise to continue its important work.
Summary of University guidance reducing research operations
Under the University’s reduced operations guidance, laboratory-based research is restricted to “critical research activities” and all labs and cores without this designation were to have ramped down operations effective March 25. Human subjects research visits (involving direct contact) are postponed unless the visit provides immediate benefit to the health or well-being of the participant. The Division of Comparative Medicine continues to provide care and support for research animals; however, non-essential experiments are postponed until normal operations resume on campus. Research and related administrative activities that can be conducted remotely continue to be performed. In addition, all University compliance offices continue to operate to support the campus research community and maintain ongoing compliance.
Summary of University guidance reopening research operations
Beginning June 1, 2020, the University resumed research operations in facilities and labs on campus at a reduced capacity – see guidance here. Research is no longer restricted to specifically approved “critical research activities” and research operations may increase up to 50% of capacity. While research facilities will resume operation at reduced capacity, all research that can effectively be done remotely should continue to be conducted remotely and not on campus for reasons of health and safety. All research support offices continue to be open and operating remotely to provide full support to the research enterprise.
- May 23, 2020 – Plans to Scale-Up Research on UNC Campus
- May 21, 2020 – Message from Chancellor on Return to Campus and Carolina RoadMap
- March 27, 2020 – UNC System Announces Work-Leave Provisions for April
- March 20, 2020 – Message from Campus Leaders on Reduced Operations
- UNC Research COVID-19 Website
- UNC Research COVID-19 Q&A Session from June 8, 2020
- Directions and Guidance for All On-Campus Research
- UNC Research Special Coverage on COVID-19
Last updated: 07/31/2020
Federal Guidance on Coronavirus (COVID-19)
- Federal Agencies Responding to Coronavirus (COVID-19)
- Guidelines for Opening Up America Again
Office of Management and Budget
- M-20-26: Extension of Administrative Relief for Recipients and Applicants of Federal Financial Assistance Directly Impacted by the Novel Coronavirus (CO VID-19) due to Loss of Operations
- M-20-23: Aligning Federal Agency Operations with the National Guidelines for Opening Up America Again
- M-20-22: Preserving the Resilience of the Federal Contracting Base in the Fight Against the Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19)
- M-20-21: Implementation Guidance for Supplemental Funding Provided in Response to the Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19)
- M-20-20: Repurposing Existing Federal Financial Assistance Programs and Awards to Support the Emergency Response to the Novel Coronavirus (COVID-19)
- M-20-18: Managing Federal Contract Performance Issues Associated with the Novel Coronavirus (COVID-19)
- M-20-17: Administrative Relief for Recipients and Applicants of Federal Financial Assistance Directly Impacted by the Novel Coronavirus (COVID-19) due to Loss of Operations
- M-20-11: Administrative Relief for Recipients and Applicants of Federal Financial Assistance Directly Impacted by the Novel Coronavirus (COVID-19)
National Institutes of Health
Contracts must be handled on a case by case basis. Details regarding any contract must be directed to the cognizant Contracting Officer. Salary changes must also be handled by the contracting officer.
- Presentation on Overview of NIH Guidance
- Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19): Information for NIH Applicants and Recipients
- FAQs on COVID-19 – Flexibilities for Applicants and Recipients
- NIH Guidance on Travel and Meetings Hosted by NIH
- NOT-OD-20-091 NIH LATE APPLICATION POLICY Due to Public Health Emergency for United States for 2019 Novel Coronavirus (COVID-19)
- NOT-OD-20-083 General Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) – Proposal Submission and Award Management Related to COVID-19
- NOT-OD-20-086 Flexibilities Available to Applicants and Recipients of Federal Financial Assistance Affected by COVID-19
- NOT-OD-20-087 Guidance for NIH-funded Clinical Trials and Human Subjects Studies Affected by COVID-19
- NOT-OD-20-088 Flexibilities for Assured Institutions for Activities of Institutional Animal Care and Use Committees (IACUCs) Due to COVID-19
National Science Foundation
- Important Notice No. 146 – NSF Letter to Community Regarding COVID-19
- NSF Implementation of OMB Memorandum M-20-20
- NSF Implementation of OMB Memorandum M-20-17
- Impact on Existing Deadline Dates
- NSF Guidance on the Effects of COVID-19 on Human Subjects Research
- NSF Guidance on the Effects of COVID-19 on Vertebrate Animal Research
- NSF Guidance for Major Facilities and Contracts Regarding COVID-19
- FAQs About the Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) for NSF Proposers and Awardees
- FAQS About the Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) for NSF SBIR and STTR Grantees
- FAQS About the Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) for NSF Major Facility Cooperative Agreement Recipients
- NSF Implementation of OMB Memorandum M-20-26
Agencies for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ)
Centers for Disease Control (CDC)
- Information for CDC Applicants and Recipients of CDC Funding
- Flexibilities Available to Applicants and Recipients of Federal Financial Assistance Affected by COVID-19
- General Funding and Grants Frequently Asked Questions
- Updated Flexibilities Guidance for Applicants and Recipients of Federal Financial Assistance Affected by COVID-19: July 8, 2020
Department of the Air Force (Sent to Contractors, Subject to Change)
Department of Defense
- Frequently Asked Questions for DOD Research Proposers and Awardees Impacted by the Novel Coronavirus (COVID-19)
- Allow Exemptions for DOD Financial Assistance Recipients Affected by the Loss of Operational Capacity and Increased Costs due to COVID-19 Crisis
- COVID-19 FAQs for Grant Applicants and Recipients
Department of Energy
- Accommodating Interruptions from Coronavirus Disease 2019
- ARPA-E Actions Owing to the COVID-19 Public Health Emergency
- PF 2020-20 COVID-19 Guidance for Financial Assistance Actions
Department of Health and Human Services
- Preparation for Potential COVID-19 Impact on Contract and Contractor Performance
- OHRP Issues Guidance for Application of the Human Subjects Protection Regulations to Actions Taken in Response to the COVID-19 Pandemic
- OHRP Guidance on COVID-19
- Administration for Children and Families (ACF) Grantees and Recipients- Information Memorandum: IM-ACF-OA-2020-01
- ORI Operations Status during Public Health Emergency for United States for 2019 Novel Coronavirus (COVID-19)
Department of Justice (DOJ)
Department of State
Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)
Food and Drug Administration
- FDA Guidance Documents on COVID-19
- FDA – Flexibilities Available to Applicants and Recipients of Federal Financial Assistance Affected by COVID-19
Human Resources and Services Administration (HRSA)
Institute of Education Sciences (IES)
National Aeronautics and Space Administration
- Assistant Administrator for Procurement Message on Coronavirus
- NASA COVID-19 For Grantees
- NASA Implementation of OMB Memorandum M-20-17
- Grants and Research during the COVID-19 Epidemic
- Memo to Contractors
- COVID-19 Impact to NASA SBIR/STTR Program
National Oceanic and Atmospheric Association
NOAA Guidance Regarding Administrative Relief for Recipients and Applicants of Federal Financial Assistance Directly Impacted by the Novel Coronavirus (COVID-19) Due to Loss of Operations
Health and Safety Information for Financial Assistance Recipients during COVID-19
Health and Safety Information for Financial Assistance Applicants and Recipients during COVID-19
National Security Agency
Office of Justice Programs, DOJ
Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services (SAMHSA)
- COVID-19 Information for SAMHSA Discretionary Grant Recipients
- Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) Related to COVID-19 for SAMHSA Grant Recipients
United States Agency for International Development (USAID)
- Memorandum authorizing COVID 19 flexibilities pursuant to OMB Memorandum M-20-17
- Information from the Office of Acquisition and Assistance in the Bureau for Management of the U.S. Agency for International Development
United States Army Medical Research
- USAMRAA’s COVID-19 FAQs
- USAMRAA’s Supplemental Guidance on Administrative Flexibilities for Grants and Cooperative Agreements in Response to COVID-19 Pandemic
- USAMRAA Animal Research Guidance
USDA – National Institute of Food and Agriculture
American Cancer Society
American Heart Association
Andrew Mellon Foundation
Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation
Cystic Fibrosis Foundation
Information Museum and Library Services
Patient-Centered Outcomes Research Institute (PCORI)
Procter & Gamble (P&G) Supplier
Research Triangle Institute International
Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF)
Council on Government Relations
Last updated: 08/31/2020
Will OSR continue to process requests and transactions for sponsored projects management?
The Office of Sponsored Research (OSR) remains fully operational while teleworking. Please proceed as usual with your proposal submissions and sponsored project requests. Please reference the OSR business units page for full descriptions and emails of all OSR personnel and reference the OSR contact page for a list of all email inboxes to contact for specific requests.
Will OSR continue to answer phone calls?
During OSR’s remote operations, most phone calls will go directly to voicemail as we are not forwarding all our lines in an effort to support the ITS Telecommunications need to reserve bandwidth of University phone lines. However, all voicemails will be immediately sent as an email using the University’s Unified Messaging service so you can expect your call or requests to be responded to in a prompt manner. The OSR main phone 919-966-3411 will continue to be answered during normal business hours, 8:00 AM – 5:00 PM.
If OSR is not open to the public or campus, how do we drop-off checks or documents for signature?
Use the green mailbox (printed with Office of Sponsored Research on the front) at the entrance of the Administrative Office Building (AOB) to drop-off any mail or checks to OSR. All mail received will be processed within 1 business day from drop-off. If you would like a confirmation receipt that OSR has received your mail, please include a note with the mail stating that and list any email addresses to receive the confirmation. Reference this post on OSR’s continuity of operations during telework.
Is OSR still processing physical mail (i.e. agreements, notices, and checks)?
OSR is processing physical mail on a daily basis. OSR retrieves mail both from University Mail Services and the OSR mailbox at AOB. For items dropped off at the OSR mailbox at AOB, those will be processed within 1 business day from when you dropped it off. If you would like a confirmation receipt that OSR has received your mail, please include a note with the mail stating that and list any email addresses to receive the confirmation. Reference this post on OSR’s continuity of operations during telework.
Will payments be processed as normal?
There will be no delay in processing payments during this time from OSR. Any checks you need deposited can be dropped off at the OSR mailbox at AOB (see above for directions).
Are the email inboxes supported by OSR still being monitored?
OSR remains fully operation and all inboxes supported by the office such as ResAdminOSR@unc.edu, OSRBilling@unc.edu, OSRCommunications@unc.edu, OIC@unc.edu, Subaward@unc.edu, etc. will be monitored as normal during this time.
If I am uncertain about sponsor flexibility in response to COVID-19 what do I do?
OSR continues to monitor sponsor guidance and will communication these updates via email and update this COVID-19 guidance page. You can also email ResAdminOSR@unc.edu or contact your department’s Sponsored Projects Specialist for additional assistance.
Are proposal still being submitted to the sponsor?
Yes, both the Office of Sponsored Research and Sponsored Programs Office are fully operational during remote operations.
Which federal agencies have made major changes in proposal submission and award management guidance in response to COVID-19?
The Council on Governmental Relations (COGR) maintains a matrix of agency guidance that describes how various federal agencies have implemented policies that are consistent with the authorities granted to them under OMB.
Is there anything I should do if an OSR managed sponsored project has halted or slowed progress due to COVID-19?
Sponsor guidance may vary. Please contact your department’s Sponsored Projects Specialist for additional assistance.
Is there a template letter available for responding to sponsor about COVID-19 related impacts?
How should recipients submit details on how COVID-19 has delayed or affected the progress of research activities on NIH-funded grant projects?
Recipients of NIH funded research must report on any effects on award in their next RPPR submission. Recipients are not to submit standard letters, but rather report on these details within the RPPR. The funding IC will consider the effects that are reported by the recipient when reviewing and approving the RPPR.
What information should be included in NIH RPPRs due related to COVID-19?
Recipients of NIH Funded research should document COVID-19 effects and state that research outcomes are not available at this time. Recipients should outline when they believe they will be able to include details related to the disruptions to the research efforts. It is important to clearly document progress on grants as it may provide substantiation for any future no-cost time extension requests.
Several federal agencies have noted that salary support may be charged to a sponsored project if the institution policy allows; is this applicable at UNC?
The UNC system has a policy for pandemic and communicable diseases and it allows for 30 days of administrative leave and is not restricted by funding sources.
Where can I find updated guidance about travel impacted by COVID-19?
Please refer to sponsor guidance on any flexibilities or policies on travel and reference the UNC guidance on University travel regarding COVID-19.
Conflict of Interest
How is COI being managed during remote operations?
The COI Program is open and its staff continue to support researchers at UNC. The individual COI Committees will meet remotely as needed and the COI Chairs continue to assess the expedited reviews. Reports or certifications to sponsors such as organizational COI or FCOI reports are continuing to be processed and submitted as needed.
Research Involving Animals
What do I do if I am using or need to use animal subjects in my research?
Please see updated guidance on animal subjects in research.
Research Involving Humans
What do I do if I am using or need to use human subjects in my research?
Please see updated guidance on human subjects in research.
Will UNC subrecipient still received payment?
Currently there are not cuts to funding including subrecipients and are no delays in payment. As we receive information from sponsors, we will update OSR’s COVID-19 Resources page.
What is the guidance on repurposing funds during COVID?
Please be aware that the updated guidance from Federal agencies for sponsored research funds applies to UNC subrecipients as well. If you have a question about the ability to repurpose funds for a specific grant, check that agency’s website.
Do Federal regulations regarding administrative leave apply to industry sponsored projects?
My industry sponsored project is ending this month. What should I do?
If you haven’t been in communication with your contact at the sponsor, please contact them ASAP to discuss milestones and potential extensions of the project. Email firstname.lastname@example.org if an amendment to the contract is necessary.
Can I still pay postdocs/students on industry sponsored projects? If so, who do I contact?
I won’t be able to meet a milestone. What are my next steps?
Many industry partners have been flexible with no cost extensions, supplemental funding and deliverable/milestone revisions. Please contact Industry Contracting (email@example.com) or Industry Relations (firstname.lastname@example.org) to discuss specific options.
My counterpart is no longer with the company. Who should I reach out to?
There are a myriad of reasons a counterpart may no longer be with the company. The extenuating circumstances and specific partnership can affect who you contact at the company moving forward. Our offices, Industry Contracting (email@example.com) or Industry Relations (firstname.lastname@example.org) can help identify a new contact, but each case will be different.
I have a new project starting 6/1/2020. Is there anything special I need to do?
Consider the specific situation we are in currently. Do you need a new postdoc, grad students, or technicians? How fast can you hire? If you have trouble hiring, should you revisit milestones? Please contact Industry Contracting (email@example.com) or Industry Relations (firstname.lastname@example.org) to discuss specific options.
An industry sponsor is asking for additional experiments without supplements. What can I do?
In the terms and conditions of the contract, it’s often standard for the industry sponsor to review upcoming publications at least 30 days prior to submission, often known as a “confidential information review.” This is not meant to delay or approve/disapprove your publications. This is to protect you from unknowingly disclosing a sponsoring company’s confidential information. It is possible the company delays review for any number of reasons. Please contact Industry Contracting (email@example.com) or Industry Relations (firstname.lastname@example.org) to discuss follow up strategies and for support with your publication review.
Hirings are going to be affected but what about renewal of positions that already exist like postdocs?
Refer to the link provided in the presentation to see what HR actions are currently paused. You can also work with your HR contact if you have any further questions.
Can milestones and time periods be changed several months later in the fall when things open up?
Yes, if we need to revise later on, we can do that as well. There may be reasons to wait on making any changes. Feel free to consult with Joon and Liz to discuss what options are best.
Impacts on Federal Grants
What level of detail concerning the impacts of COVID-19 should be included in an upcoming RPPR? Is the template emailed from OSR sufficient or should the PI be providing much of the details including payments vs completed/uncompleted work?
Recipients should document any COVID-19 effects and outline any research outcomes that are not available at the time of reporting. Recipients should outline when they believe they will be able to include details related to the disruptions to the research efforts. It is important to clearly document progress on grants as it may provide substantiation for any future no-cost time extension requests.
The template letter provided on the OSR website is not sufficient but can provide general language that may be included. Do NOT submit the template letter with your RPPR. The PI will need to provide detailed information on any COVID-19 effects to the project as part of the RPPR form. Some examples include:
- Staff idle time
- Impact to research outcomes for that reporting period
- Changes and adjustments made to accommodate remote work
- Ways the PI has reduced operational costs due to the reduction in operations such as renegotiation of offsite rental costs
Is submitting a subsequent, or new, progress report recommended if we submitted an RPPR just prior to the outbreak and do not have an RPPR due during this period?
No, we recommend you provide notification to NIH at the time that the next RPPR for your grant or cooperative agreement is required. For documentation purposes NIH has requested that we use the regularly scheduled annual reporting mechanism to provide this notification.
Do you expect Federal agencies to release more funding for salaries being paid during the months the University is closed due-to the pandemic?
Supplemental funding is available but as of now seems to be focused on COVID supplemental research. NIH’s most recent FAQ’s indicate that while documentation is required, recipients should not assume additional funds will be available if charging these costs results in a shortage of funds to eventually carry out the project. This could change over time and we recommend talking with your SPS about any concerns you might have so we can reach out to the appropriate sponsor for additional guidance.
Which section of the RPPR is the most appropriate in which to report COVID-19 Impacts?
Section F-Changes is the section of the RPPR in which you should describe any challenges or delays that you encountered during the reporting period and any actions or plans to resolve them. As a result, this is the most appropriate location to report COVID-19 Impacts to your project. While this section is the primary location that you should describe any impact to your project, additional information may be included throughout the RPPR depending on how your specific project was impacted by COVID-19. Examples of RPPR sections that may include additional information include but are not limited to: Section B-Accomplishments and Section D-Participants.
If there is an employee who took Families First Coronavirus Response Act: Employer Paid Leave Requirements (FFCRA) leave and was paid for from a department funding source, can that leave be placed on a sponsored project?
No, any FFCRA leave may not be placed on a sponsored project funding source (Federal and/or non-Federal).
COVID Impacts on Federal Contracts
If we have charged paid administrative leave on Federal contracts, do we need to request prior approval?
Yes, please contact your OSR SPS as soon as possible to request sponsor prior approval, even if it is after the fact. Any paid administrative leave charges on federal contracts require sponsor prior approval.
Impacts on Non-Profit Funded Projects
What do I do if I have personnel who are idle on my project? Are non-profit sponsors generally allowing for this flexibility?
They should contact their SPS so OSR can review the agreement terms and sponsor requirements to help determine if prior approval is required or some type of notification and if so assist in preparing this. Yes, in some cases our non-profit sponsors are allowing flexibilities, but they vary from sponsor to sponsor.
Should I reach out to the Non-Profit Sponsor directly if I have concerns about my project?
No, we ask that you please loop in OSR by reaching out to your SPS who can help to facilitate and coordinate any communication and requests.
What do I do if my project is ending soon and I will not be able to complete my scope of work?
Work with your SPS to review the terms of your agreement, sponsor flexibilities that have been provided, and help to coordinate any request.
The Federal government is requiring that we include how and if our project was impacted by COVID-19 in our progress reports, should we do the same with Non-Profit sponsor?
Yes, if your project has been impacted by COVID-19 it is important that you provide details on how it has been impacted in your next progress report. It is also recommended that if you were able to continue your project with little impact (example working remotely) then it can’t hurt to provide details on how you were able to continue.
I charged Paid Administrative Leave to my project and now I do not have enough funding to complete my project, what do I do?
Work with your SPS to review the terms of your agreement, sponsor flexibilities that have been provided, and help to coordinate any request.
Do Non-Profit sponsors have gap or supplemental funding available?
In general, we are not seeing gap or supplement funding from our non-profit sponsors but since our sponsors are unique there could be instances where this type of funding will or is currently available.
Last updated: 08/19/2020
|COVID-19 Impacts on Industry Sponsored Projects||This webinar will provide an overview and guidance on working with industry partners during this time of uncertainty.|
Click here for the presentation.
|June 4, 2020||2:00 - 3:00 PM||Recording|
|Impact of COVID-19 on Federal Funding||Participants will get a broad overview of how to manage Federal funding sources if their project is impacted by COVID-19, as well as resources and guidance on how to work with OSR to communicate any impacts to their sponsors.|
Click here for the presentation.
|July 7, 2020||2:00 - 3:00 PM||Recording|
|Impacts of COVID-19: Managing Non-Profit Funded Projects||The webinar will discuss the unique characteristics of non-profit funding. It will provide an overview of the University’s Policies related to the pandemic and their impact on non-profit funding. We will cover the Office of Sponsored Research (OSR) Prior Approval Request (PAR) process and tips and tools for working with our Non-Profit Sponsors as well as the University’s resources and FAQ’s.|
Click here for the presentation.
|August 13, 2020||2:00 - 3:00 PM||Recording
|Impacts of COVID-19 on Salary and Effort Management||This session covers important impacts of COVID-19 on both salary and effort management. It provides a change in OSR guidance on these subjects.|
Click here for the presentation.