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Sponsored Projects and Research Compliance Office (SPARC)

SPARC Continuity During COVID-19

March 24, 2020

SPARC will continue to provide regular support to the community while working remotely. We are happy to schedule virtual meetings and phone calls. In order to ensure smooth communications, please use email and send documents electronically. Some FAQs and agency-specific guidance regarding COVID-19 are as follows:

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Proposals and Ongoing Research Activities

I plan to submit a grant proposal this spring. Can I still do this?

Yes! Please let SPARC know as soon as possible. While support is expected to continue as normal, allow extra time for proposal review and submission given that we are working remotely and relying on electronic communications. Note that some sponsors are extending submission deadlines.

I need access to campus to continue critical, grant-funded research activities (e.g., live animals, cell cultures, or other equipment that must be maintained). What should I do?

Please contact your Dean or the Vice President of your unit. If you are a CAS faculty member, instructions are available on the CAS Dean’s Office webpage.

The COVID-19 pandemic is preventing my research team from making progress towards project goals. Can I get an extension on the grant or reporting deadlines?

Generally, yes. Sponsors are being very flexible under the circumstances. PIs who would like to explore options for a no-cost extension or who anticipate delays in submitting project deliverables or required reports should communicate directly with their Program Officer and SPARC.

My research involves Human Subjects. Can it continue?

Please see the IRB response to COVID-19 dated March 17, 2020 and contact the IRB at irb@lclark.edu with any specific questions.

Will the research compliance committees approve new projects or amendments?

Yes! The Institutional Animal Care and Use Committee (IACUC), the Institutional Review Board (IRB), and the Institutional Biosafety Committee (IBC) will continue to meet virtually. Please allow as much time as possible for review as there may be a delay or change to the regular meeting schedule.

Travel and Grant-related Expenses

I charged airfare to my grant, but the conference I planned to attend has been cancelled and/or I won’t be able to travel. What do I do?

Check with the airline to see if they will give you a refund or credit. SPARC will help you determine how any non-refunded charges should be allocated.

I am planning to go to a conference later this year, a trip that was included in my grant budget. Can I book my airline tickets and reserve a hotel?

Proceed with caution, as COVID-19 is creating uncertainty around travel, especially international travel. Only purchase tickets or reservations that are refundable in case you are not able to travel or the event is cancelled. The Travel Restrictions currently in place at Lewis & Clark apply to grant-funded travel.

Can I continue to charge expenses to my grant during the campus closure?

Yes, but in most cases, purchases of supplies should be delayed while staff are working remotely. The same rules about allowability apply, so please contact SPARC if you have a question. Maintaining appropriate documentation will be very important. Approvals for financial transactions can be provided through electronic signatures and/or email, and submitted to Accounts Payable. The Business Office is working remotely and there may be delays in processing time.

Can I get a budget status update for my grant?

Yes. SPARC expects to continue to provide budget status reports on a regular basis and upon request via email.

Summer Salary and Hiring using Grant Funds

I had planned to hire undergraduates to conduct summer research on my grant funded project this summer. Can I still do this?

Not necessarily. Lewis & Clark’s hiring freeze applies to all positions, student or staff and regardless of the source of funding. PIs who want to request an exception and hire someone to work remotely should follow the process outlined by the College.

Can I continue to be paid from a grant while working remotely?

Yes. If employees will be engaged in the project and are able to continue work remotely they can charge salary and wages proportional to the work performed on the project. Please see the College’s telecommute guidelines. Given the unexpected and across-the-board nature of the COVID-19 crises, the College has relaxed some requirements of this policy (e.g. every employee is not required to have an individual work-at-home contract on file).

I plan to work on my grant remotely this summer. Will I be able to receive the summer salary included in the grant proposal budget?

If your approved budget includes summer salary, you may charge salary and wages proportional to the work performed on the project. SPARC will contact PIs in May via email to confirm summer plans and salary. The new Compensation Review Policy applies to all federally funded compensation.

I plan to work on my grant remotely this summer, but my progress will be different than expected since I will not be able to work in my lab. Will additional funding be made available due to COVID-19?

Although federal and other sponsors are being flexible about project timelines, do not assume that supplemental funding will be made available due to COVID-19.

I do not think working on my project is feasible this summer due to COVID-19. What should I do?

You may not receive compensation from a grant-funded project if you are not working on the project. Let SPARC and your Program Officer know your plans. SPARC can help you determine the best way to contact the sponsor.

Agency Specific Guidance

SPARC is monitoring guidance from federal sponsors regarding proposals, award administration, and cost allowability related to COVID-19. We anticipate further guidance regarding these issues and will provide updates as information becomes available. Specific COVID-19 guidance is currently available as follows:

Council on Governmental Relations:
Office of Management and Budget: M-20-17, Guidance on Administrative Relief
National Science Foundation: NSF coronavirus information
National Institutes of Health: Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19): Information for NIH Applicants and Recipients of NIH Funding
Department of Energy: All recently-issued DOE guidance, including COVID-19 relevant guidance and  DOE Implementation of OMB Memorandum M-20-17
Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS): Coronavirus (COVID-19) Updates

National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH): FAQs – Funding for NEH Applicants and Grantees Impacted by the Coronavirus

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