April 7, 2020

Office of Management and Budget Provides Flexibility Under COVID-19

By Thomas Raffa, Nonprofit & Social Sector National Leader

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On March 19, 2020, the Deputy Director of Management for the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) issued a memorandum to the heads of the executive departments and agencies regarding some administrative relief for recipients and applicants of federal financial assistance directly impacted by COVID-19 due to a loss of operations. It was a follow-up to an earlier memorandum issued on March 9th to provide similar relief to an expanded scope of recipients affected by the loss. Here are the highlights of that memorandum.

Awarding agencies (AA’s) can relax the requirements for active System Award Management (SAM) registration at the time of the application so as to speed up the issuance of funding to the award recipient (the recipient). If your registration is due to expire before May 16th, you will be afforded a one-time, 60-day extension.

AA’s can be flexible in regard to the submission of competing applications.

For competitive grants and cooperative agreements, AA’s can publish emergency Notice of Funding Opportunities (NOFOs) for less than thirty (30) days without separately justifying shortening the time frame for each NOFO.

AA’s can extend awards which were active as of March 31, 2020 and scheduled to expire prior or up to December 31, 2020, automatically at no­ cost for a period of up to twelve (12) months. Project-specific financial and performance reports will then be due 90 days following the end date of the extension. Other project reporting can also be delayed by the AA’s as the need arises.

For continuation requests scheduled to come in from April 1, 2020 to December 31, 2020, from projects with planned future support, AA’s may accept a brief statement from recipients to verify that they are in a position to: resume or restore their project activities; and accept a planned continuation award.
AA’s can allow recipients to continue 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.

AA’s can allow other costs to be charged to Federal awards necessary to resume activities supported by the award, consistent with applicable Federal cost principles and the benefit to the project.

AA’s can allow recipients who incur costs related to the cancellation of events, travel, or other activities necessary and reasonable for the performance of the award, or the pausing and restarting of grant funded activities due to the public health emergency, to charge these costs to their award without regard to the current CFR’s. However, the recipients should not assume additional funds will be available to replace these costs.

AA’s are allowed to waive prior approval requirements as necessary to effectively address the response.

AA’s can waive the procurement requirements that cover geographical preferences and contracting small and minority businesses, women’s business enterprises, and labor surplus area firms.

AA’s can allow grantees to delay submission of financial, performance and other reports up to three (3) months beyond the normal due date. If an agency allows such a delay, grantees can continue to draw down Federal funds without the timely submission of these reports.

AA’s can waive the requirement for recipients to notify the agency of problems, delays or adverse conditions related to COVID-19 on a grant by grant basis.

AA’s may allow grantees to continue to use the currently approved indirect cost rates (i.e., predetermined, fixed, or provisional rates) to recover their indirect costs on Federal awards for one additional year and approve grantee requests for an extension of the indirect cost rate proposal submission to finalize the current rates and establish future rates.

AA’s can allow the grantee to delay submission of any pending financial, performance and other reports required by the terms of the award for the closeout of expired projects for up to 1 year, provided that proper notice about the reporting delay is given by the grantee to the agency.

AA’s as the cognizant or oversight agencies for audit, should allow recipients (and sub recipients) that have not yet filed their single audits with the Federal Audit Clearinghouse as of the date of the issuance of this memorandum that have fiscal year-ends through June 30, 2020, to delay the completion and submission of the Single Audit reporting package, to six (6) months beyond the normal due date. The recipient will still qualify as a low-risk auditee.

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