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INFORMATION FOR PRINCIPAL INVESTIGATORS
- I am the principal investigator on my grant. What kind of advice should I give staff who are assigned to work with me on this grant?
Please review the guidance provided for field staff. That document covers a number of topics: continuation of wages, paycheck information, sick leave-including special COVID-19 sick leave, health insurance, prescription benefits, and COVID-19 testing and treatment. Please share that information with your staff on your project. See Information for Field Staff.
- My college is closed but I want to conduct my research remotely. What can I do?
The closure of a college does not necessarily mean that all sponsored activity comes to an end. If possible, principal investigators should take steps to conduct work remotely and/or virtually. They should contact program officers to document this and to request further guidance and/or needed approvals. Federal agencies have been very helpful in giving flexibility to principal investigators. Principal investigators can also suggest postponing activities until the crisis resolves by requesting a no-cost extension to make up for the hiatus of research activity. Conducting research from a remote location requires careful planning. Please refer to RFCUNY’s Remote Work Guidelines.
- If I cannot deliver regular reports on my grant to my sponsor by the required deadlines what should I do?
Researchers or sponsored projects office staff from organizations that have been directly affected and are unable to meet stated deadlines should contact the sponsor program officer to discuss the issue. Generally, Federal agencies will consider extensions to the reporting deadline on a case-by-case basis (and, in a few cases, on a program-by-program basis).
- What do we do when on our project is being conducted remotely with very little work done? Can we continue charging salaries and other related remote work project costs?
Federal, State, and local agency guidance on: (a) what constitutes an allowable cost, (b) how PIs will be reimbursed for COVID-19 related costs, (c) costs that would not otherwise have incurred had there been no COVID-19 pandemic, varies widely. The Federal sector in general will allow salary costs for a short period of time for payment of salaries. Federal agencies will also allow costs associated with moving the project to remote work. State and local sponsors are less likely to honor these costs. It is essential that you follow the guidance provided by each sponsor, that you obtain approvals when they are required, and that you keep track of all COVID-19 related costs. If you require additional guidance please feel free to contact your RF program administrator. For Federal guidance you can also refer to the Council of Government Relation Guidance Matrix.
- Will COVID-19 have an impact on compliance issues related to my grant?
The CUNY Office of Research is responsible for compliance issues related to COVID-19. Please access CUNY’s Research Continuity Guidance.
- I am considering replacing face-to-face interaction with the use of virtual technology. Beyond simple videoconferencing, I would like to use augmented reality or other technology to make the interactions more effective. May I submit a supplemental funding request to purchase and distribute the necessary equipment and/or contract with a service provider?
Yes, if supplements are recommended by sponsors, then by all means request a supplement. However, keep in mind that some grants allow institutions to reprogram costs up to a certain percentage of the total award amount. If your grant or your sponsor provide you with this authority, and it is within the allowable cost limit, then the answer is yes you can reprogram and charge costs related to telework on your grant, assuming that you are converting a specific in-person activity (e.g. conferences, steering committee meetings, training, etc.) to a remote or virtual setting. If your grant or your sponsor does not provide you with that authority (or has not implemented special COVID-19 flexibilities related to telework) and you need to work remotely or virtually then please consult with your department or school to identify whether computing resources are available. Keep in mind that these costs might require contacting the sponsor, so it is important to obtain sponsor approval and to keep separate track of all COVID-19 related costs. If you need additional guidance please contact your RF program administrator.
- I understand that NSF and NIH are providing grants to researchers interested in submitting a COVID-19 related proposal? Is there a deadline by which I must make this contact?
NSF and NIH have issued announcements for these grants. All questions about these programs should be directed either to a program officer managing an NSF program with which the research would be aligned or to email@example.com. Guidance for NIH funding for research on the Coronavirus can be found at NIAID’s Multi-Pronged Response to the COVID-2019 Outbreak. NSF and NIH are seeking to support research that will address the immediate public health threat of COVID-19. NSF, NIH, and other sponsors will be as responsive to queries for information as they want to support research that eliminates the threats posed by the coronavirus.
- I am concerned that the annual and sick leave balances on my sponsored program will be depleted by staff who have chosen to use this leave during the Coronavirus outbreak. What should I do?
RFCUNY has provided a temporary leave benefit of up to 14 days to its employees to supplement their accumulated leave both for their own COVID-19 illnesses and to take care of ill family members with a confirmed case of COVID-19. This benefit can be used for a COVID-19 illness, any disabling condition from a COVID-19 illness, and any mandatory or precautionary order of quarantine or isolation. Special COVID-19 Sick Leave is not applicable in cases where an employee is deemed asymptomatic or has not yet been diagnosed with any medical condition and is physically able to work. Sick leave, annual leave, or unscheduled holiday leave may be used in those cases. Please also refer to the Information for Field Staff.
- I have recently traveled from another State (or foreign country) to the US. Is there any action that I should take?
In response to the threat posed by the spread of COVID-19, any employee that: (a) has traveled to countries or areas within the U.S. that pose a high risk of contact with infected persons, (b) has been directly exposed to the COVID-19 virus, and/or (c) has come to close contact with others that have been exposed to the virus, should follow the guidance of the New York City Health Department.
- A conference has been canceled, but I have nonrefundable travel and/or hotel costs. Can these be charged to the Conference or Travel grant?
Sponsors have provided guidance on this in a varied way. We suggest that you send an email to your program officer requesting clarification on reimbursement.
- I am a principal investigator working remotely from home. Can my effort still be charged to my federal grant?
In general, yes, provided you remain engaged in your project. Current NIH and NSF prior approval requirements regarding disengagement from the project for three months or more, and effort reductions of 25 percent or more, remain in effect. Other Federal agencies have provided similar guidance.
- I am a principal investigator and am required to work from home as a result of COVID-19. Can I charge supplies relating to telework (i.e., such as a laptop, printer, office supplies, etc.) to my grant?
Some grants allow institutions to reprogram costs up to a certain percentage of the total award amount. If your grant or your sponsor provide you with this authority, and it is within the allowable cost limit, then the answer is yes you can reprogram and charge costs related to telework on your grant, assuming that you are converting a specific in-person activity (e.g. conferences, steering committee meetings, training, etc.) to a remote or virtual setting. If your grant or your sponsor does not provide you with that authority (or has not implemented special COVID-19 flexibilities related to telework) and you need to work remotely or virtually then please consult with your department or school to identify whether computing resources are available. Keep in mind that these costs might require sponsor approval, so it is important to obtain sponsor approval and to keep separate track of all COVID-19 related costs. If you need additional guidance please contact your RF program administrator.