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COVID-19 FAQ for AU Sponsored Research

As the COVID -19 situation continues to evolve, the Office of Research will continue to monitor any impacts relevant to AU Research and researchers. Of highest priority is the health and safety of our faculty, staff, and students. These FAQs will be updated regularly to ensure that the community has information regarding our research infrastructure and any needed changes in our procedures. A downloadable copy of the FAQs is available. For the most up to date information on the university’s response to the COVID-19 situation, please continue to access https://www.american.edu/coronavirus/

As staff and faculty move to telework, how will this affect the University’s research infrastructure?
As of March 25, 2020 the University will only provide essential services which includes facilitating distance learning; support housing and food service for students remaining on campus; provide healthcare; provide health care services to research animals; support essential infrastructure; perform law enforcement functions; support media services, including radio, and information technology infrastructure; support construction; and support mailing services.

As noted in the announcement from the Office of Research, Principal Investigators (PIs) should immediately suspend all in person research, on campus or in the field. Research activities that can be performed with remote staffing or via telework can continue. The safety and good health of our research workforce and animals will remain our highest priority. At this point, PIs can expect the following:

  • Changes to human subjects protocols must be approved by the IRB. Please reach out at irb@american.edu.
  • Changes to animal (vertebrate) protocols must be approved by the IACUC. Please reach out at iacuc@american.edu.
  •  Essential research infrastructure, such as power and telecommunications, will be maintained.
  • Central research administration units, such as the Office of Research (including the Office of Research Integrity (ORI) and Office of Sponsored Programs Office (OSP), and Grants and Contracts Accounting (GCA) will continue to provide services such as proposal preparation and submission and award management along with school, college, and center support staff.
  •  The Office of Research (OR) and Environment, Health & Safety (EH&S) will maintain their critical oversight functions, including coordination of animal care, with back-up plans should the campus go into curtailed access.

The university leadership are monitoring the operation of federal and private sponsors of research and will communicate if we need to consider suspending research activities.

Off-campus Research
We have suspended all off-campus research activities that require in-person interactions with research subjects. PIs on off-campus research projects that require in-person contact to collect data using surveys, interviews, focus groups, including face to face research outsourced to non-AU staff, must halt data collection immediately. This suspension of in-person human subject research includes projects conducted in the US or foreign countries.
Projects may be able to move to telephone or online formats, but any changes in this regard must be approved by the IRB as a modification, as the resulting risks posed to human subjects, for example, confidentiality, may change. Research functions that do not involve face to face interaction can continue.

How are sponsors responding to the evolving situation?
PIs and research administration staff should feel assured that sponsors of our research have been responsive to the changing conditions of the COVID-19 Pandemic. For example, NSF, NIH, NEH, Open Society Foundation, Ford Foundation, and the Hewlett Foundation continue to update their communications and guidance for researchers that allow for flexibility in award management functions and continue to accept applications to programs. PIs should work with their department, unit-level, OSP, and GCA contacts to proactively consider specific changes to their projects.

GREAT RESOURCE: Institutional and Agency Responses to COVID-19 and Additional Resources from the Council on Governmental Relations.

NEW: Seattle International Foundation- If you have a current grant with SIF and expect changes to the funded project or program, please contact your Program Officer – This includes changes to (1) timeline, (2) budget and (3) scope of work. Your PO will work with you to make any necessary adjustments.

NEW: NASA’s guidance as to how the Agency is implementing the OMB guidance (M-20-17). This site also contains a FAQ that provides additional clarifications.

NEW: Guidance issued by OMB in regards to: Administrative Relief for Recipients and Applicants of Federal Financial Assistance Directly Impacted by the Novel Coronavirus (COVID-19) due to Loss of Operations.

NEW: The National Science Foundation has issued Important Notice No 146 to the Community Regarding COVID-19. NSF has also issued additional guidance on NSF’s implementation of the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) Memorandum (M-20-17), entitled, Administrative Relief for Recipients and Applicants of Federal Financial Assistance Directly Impacted by the Novel Coronavirus (COVID-19) due to Loss of Operations. NSF has implemented flexibilities authorized by OMB from specific administrative, financial management and audit requirements contained in 2 CFR Part 200, Uniform Administrative Requirements, Cost Principles and Audit Requirements for Federal Awards without compromising accountability requirements. Any questions about the policies described in the NSF Guidance should be directed to policy@nsf.gov

NEW: U.S. Department of Justice, Office of Justice Programs, has issued Guidance to Award Recipients Impacted by COVID-19: Short Term Relief for Various Administrative, Financial Management, and Audit Requirements.

As we continue to monitor the COVID-19 situation, we want to ensure that researchers are aware of HR guidelines that have been issued regarding students as well as part-time and full-time staff. Please refer to the guidance from AU Human Resources as it is considered AU policy and must be followed in all circumstances. Please continue to work with your Dean’s Office Research department and/or your GCA point of contact to understand the allowability of expenses during these emerging times

Are students allowed (but not required) to continue to work in faculty labs?
No. Research, including student research, can continue via telework. Clinical Psychology doctoral students will be providing mental health service delivery via telehealth. Only a few student researchers who work with vertebrate animals have been approved to continue in-person research.

Now that all travel has been canceled, what should PIs do about travel arrangements?
All domestic and international travel for university business is suspended. All research travel should be rescheduled. All PIs should make swift and sustained efforts to receive refunds for all travel expenses. The university’s message about travel cancellation should allow vendors to provide refunds. Please work with the airline, hotel, and/or other service vendors to obtain a refund. In the case that these efforts are unsuccessful, AU will cover all non-refundable expenses associated with travel on sponsored projects that are not covered by the sponsor. If a PI has planned to travel for non-conference related research travel that is extraordinary, essential, and absolutely cannot be delayed, they must request and receive approval from their Dean and Office of the Vice-Provost for Research. Only approved travel will be eligible for payment or reimbursement.

What if my faculty/staff member already left the country before the travel suspension was issued?
Faculty/staff who are already in international locations are encouraged to return as travel difficulties are expected to increase in the near term. If there is an extraordinary situation that does not allow the faculty/staff member to vacate, they must inform their Dean/supervisor, acknowledge they will not be covered by our travel insurance, and assume all risks related to the decision to stay. Any waiver, including the use of university and sponsored research funding, must be approved by the provost.

I have a proposal where I plan to include travel. Can I still include this in the proposal?
We recommend not to plan or promise a sponsor that AU faculty/staff can travel within the next 3-4 months. For proposal planning with travel scheduled beyond the next 6 months, international travel can be included. If awarded and the travel situation remains restricted, we will take the necessary precautions. If the award is pending and travel is planned within the near future (3-4 months), the PI should consult Deans and interim VP for Research.

Can I plan my future travel and book flights and accommodation?
We recommend that faculty do not confirm or purchase transportation in the next three months. For travel beyond three months, faculty are asked to only book travels that is refundable and changeable and reasonably priced.

What travel insurance does AU have that cover cancellations for the COVID-19 situation?
Contact your Deans office for information.

  • Communications with federal awarding agencies should be coordinated with OSP and/or the school’s central research office. 
  • Retain all documentation relating to the cancellation or other costs charged to a grant in accordance with record retention requirements. 
  • Retain documentation relating to research delays caused by COVID-19. 

I need to make changes to my IRB approved protocols. How should I do that?
Federal regulations that guide the oversight of research require that we review revisions to protocols before they are implemented, there is one important exception, “where necessary to eliminate apparent immediate hazards to the human subjects.” 21 CFR 56.108(a)(4). Should you determine that changes in your procedures are required, you can implement them immediately, without prior notice to or approval from the IRB. You will need to ensure that you are not introducing other risks, and you may need to ask subjects to sign revised informed consent forms. The changes should be reported to the IRB as soon as possible, and we will request justification for a delay of more than five business days. If a full revised protocol cannot be completed in that time, a document that describes the changes and explains how they will protect subjects can be submitted, along with copies of any new or revised subject-facing materials.

How do I handle any financial impact CVOID-19 may have on my sponsored research award?
As protocols may vary by sponsor or award type, all PIs should reach out to unit administrators who will coordinate with Grants & Contracts Accounting (GCA) point of contact to determine what costs are allowable or unallowable on the grant (i.e.: travel change fees, conference cancellations, labor, consulting fees, etc.), what costs will be covered by the university and what steps need to be taken to maximize grant funding. GCA will involve the Office of Sponsored Programs if the above referenced changes result in the need for contractual modifications (i.e. no cost extension, request for additional funding, re-budgeting of grant expenses, etc.) on your grant. GCA contacts by unit are listed in this form. Most sponsors are allowing flexibility (eg see recent OMB guidance) so please remain in touch with your contacts in these offices as you find areas where you need to make adjustments in your project.

I have an upcoming proposal that I’m looking to submit shortly, but I don’t have something to put in Cayuse yet. How will I submit if staff are teleworking?
First of all, Great! The Office of Sponsored Programs will be reaching out to College, School and Center research administration staff to create a list of upcoming projects so that we can all proactively plan for submissions. OSP and unit staff will have contact information for each other so proposal submission can continue uninterrupted. OSP staff have the necessary tools to continue all work remotely.

Have proposal submission deadlines been changed?
So far, we have not received notification from any federal sponsors that deadlines have been changed. Please check the sponsor’s website frequently if you are planning on submitting a proposal.

We have other sponsors who have notified us that they have changed due dates (list will be updated as we receive updates):

  • Hubble Space Telescope Call for Proposals for Cycle 28  
  • NSF FAQ: You should reach out to the cognizant NSF program officer if you are directly affected.
  • STScI, NASA, ESA, and CSA have decided to delay the proposal deadline for JWST Cycle 1 GO proposals to no earlier than May 27th 2020. They are continuing to monitor the situation, and will provide an update on the schedule on April 15th 2020.
  • The Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis Research Program (ALSRP), Autism Research Program (ARP), and Ovarian Cancer Research Program (OCRP) have extended the pre-application submission deadline. The extension is for all applicants. Requests for further extensions to the new pre-application submission deadlines will not be accepted. The FY20 ALSRP released funding opportunities on January 17, 2020. The FY20 ARP and FY20 OCRP released funding opportunities on February 27, 2020. Please consult the modified Program Announcements available on Grants.gov and contact the CDMRP Helpdesk with any questions.

Where can I find resources:

CDC
WHO
COGR
CDC Confirmed US Cases
JHU Global cases

I have a sub-awardee, Professional Service Agreement or other partnership that is vital to my project. Should I provide them with any information?
Please do keep in contact with the sub-recipients on your projects and keep them apprised of any changes that you are anticipating in your research. Please keep in mind that the AU policies and procedures as well as the Prime Sponsors CODIV-19 guidance flow down to the subawards. The Office of Research can provide a letter that can be sent to your partners should you want to provide them with information about our status.

Major event considerations, should I cancel or postpone?
CDC has issued guidance to avoid gatherings of 50 people or more. Until CDC issue new guidance allowing gatherings we recommend to cancel or postpone your event regardless of the size.

If you have any pressing or urgent concerns, please reach out to the Interim Vice Provost for Research Sarah Irvine Belson at sarah@american.edu or via cell at 202-230-2054.

FACULTY RESEARCHER INFORMATION

WHO TO CONTACT

If you are new to the proposal process at AU, we highly recommend that you start by contacting the department administrator in your school. The school's pre-award staff can assist you in thinking about all the components required for a competitive proposal. However, OSP is always available to assist you!

contact list

FIND FUNDING

AU offers resources to search for funding opportunities for scholarly pursuits. Looking for funding requires crafting tailor-made searches in Pivot, conducting research on Foundation Directory Online (FDO) for prospective funders, and speaking with program officers in varies government agencies and foundations.

access databases

Faculty Training Module

This training program is intended to build capacity in research administration across campus and help to reduce documented enterprise risk/ audit issues in the campus-wide management of sponsored projects. The self-paced, online training module should be completed before spending new grant funds.

Access Module

Frequently Required Proposal Data

Taxpayer/Employer Identification Number (EIN)
53-0196549

Contractor & Government Entity (Cage) Number 4B291

DUNS & Bradstreet Number
07-779-5060

INSTITUTIONAL INFO

FACULTY FELLOWSHIP OPPORTUNITIES

The Center for Teaching, Research, and Learning, in partnership with the Dean of Academic Affairs, built a database of individual fellowships open to university faculty.

Access Fellowships

Cayuse SP

Cayuse SP is an electronic online system that AU uses to route and approve all proposals. The routing process allows representatives of the university such as the department administrator and the head of the Unit and/or Dean of your school as well as OSP to review and approve your proposal.

Request access