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Sponsored Programs FAQs

Updated:  August 4, 2020 at 2:38 p.m.

General FAQs

Yes. Staff in the Office of Sponsored Programs will be available to provide support to the university’s research activities and answer all your questions. Please direct your question to the appropriate contact listed on the OVPRI contact webpage. Please remember that staff may be telecommuting and on flex schedules so there may be some delay in response time.

Pre-Award

Each sponsor may answer this differently. A few sponsors have provided instructions regarding this matter and may be viewed at the websites listed below. If you are experiencing issues meeting a deadline, please contact the Program Officer/Manager listed in the Request for Proposal to discuss as these are currently being determined on a case by case basis. Please copy your pre-award associate on this communication.

Visit this page for regular updates to information provided by sponsors. If you do not see any info for your sponsor, check their specific website or use the contact info provided in the RFP to check with the sponsor.  

Please update your sponsor deadline date in Summit accordingly and provide the documentation for the extension.

Inform your Pre-Award Associate, so they can mark your proposal internally and be sure to answer all the Compliance questions in Summit as quickly as possible. This will allow SIRC to prioritize COVID-19 IRB/IACUC/IBC reviews.

Now that Virginia Tech has entered modified operations, we are returning to normal operating procedure regarding hard copy proposal submissions which is that OSP will mail the hard copy submissions to the sponsor. Please still be sure to mark the "Submission Instructions: section of Summit appropriately. Inform your Pre-Award Associate as early as possible.

Contracts and Agreements

Please email the agreement and any corresponding documentation from the sponsor to: ospcontracts@vt.edu. Please include the following: Subject Line with the principal investigator's name and the Proposal Number from Summit, as this will assist greatly with expediting this process:

Urgent COVID-19 Agreement – PI Last Name, First Name: Proposal Number

Please email your request to ospcontracts@vt.edu and one of our team members will provide you with an update as soon as possible.

Guidelines for Contracts

Proactive communication with your federal sponsor about your contract’s schedule is absolutely critical during this time. Contact your Office of Sponsored Research post-award associate as soon as you believe your schedule will be impacted. The post-award Associate will serve as the point of contact to alert the federal government regarding scheduling delays. Informing the federal government sponsor that you will be missing a milestone ahead of time is very important.

No. Please contact your Office of Sponsored Research post-award associate as soon as you believe that your schedule will be impacted. Proactive communication with your federal sponsor about your contract’s schedule is absolutely critical during this time.

Clearly document the following three items and submit them via email to your post-award associate:

  1. Impact on Milestones/Deliverables: Document milestones/deliverables that you will not be able to meet or provide on time based upon your current contract schedule. Providing notification to the federal government prior to missing a milestone or failing to provide a deliverable by the required date in the contract is critical.
  2. Specific Causes of the Impact on Milestones and Deliverables: Providing more detail is best. Simply stating that delays are being caused by COVID-19 issues will not assist your request as much as concrete examples. Examples of delays could include the following:
    • Inability of project personnel to access laboratories or specialized equipment needed to perform due to university policies and procedures.
    • Unforeseen delays in obtaining necessary specialized equipment.
    • Inability to conduct research remotely.
    • Inability to access a Federal Government site necessary to execute research.
  3. Plan to Mitigate Scheduling Delays. What is being done to minimize scheduling delays? For example, could you execute portions of the research at a different time than you had originally planned that would allow for the research to be executed remotely?

In addition, within your written documentation of these three items, include a statement that the delays that you are experiencing are “beyond the control and without the fault or negligence” of your project team and Virginia Tech. Affirming this to the contracting officer will assist them with approving your request as this reflects the criteria they will be using to approve a schedule change.

Your Office of Sponsored Research post-award associate will serve as the lead for submitting a request for an extension to the federal sponsor, as this request must be approved by the federal government’s contracting officer. Please also provide your post-award associate with the name and email address for your technical point of contact at the federal government so that the post-award associate is able to copy your technical point of contact when the request is submitted to the contracting officer. 

Impacts on Contract Cost

In addition to equitable adjustments in schedule, the contracting officer for your contract may also consider providing an equitable adjustment to the overall cost/price of your contract. Prior written authorization from the contracting officer would be required under what is a called an “equitable adjustment.”

Please contact your Office of Sponsored Research post-award associate if you are planning to request an “equitable adjustment” in your contract’s cost, as such an increase must be approved by the Federal government’s contracting officer. Your post-award associate will submit your request to the contracting officer on your behalf.

Contracting officers take into account, among other factors, whether the requested cost increase would be allowable, allocable, and reasonable “to protect the health and safety of contract (i.e. Virginia Tech) employees as a part of the performance of the contract.” This phrase was used within OMB Memorandum M-20-18, Managing Federal Contract Performance Issues Associated with the Novel Coronavirus (COVID-19).

Providing specific documentation to your post-award associate regarding the potential increases in your costs will greatly assist. Your reason for such an increase should be “to protect the health and safety of contract (i.e. Virginia Tech) employees as a part of the performance of the contract” and it is suggested that you include that statement within your detailed cost justification. 

Impacts on Contract Performance

No. The OMB Memorandum M-20-18, Managing Federal Contract Performance Issues Associated with the Novel Coronavirus (COVID-19) confirms that “equitable adjustments” to the contract should not negatively affect contractor performance ratings. 

Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act

Yes. In Section 3610, Federal Contractor Authority, of the CARES Act provides discretion to Federal Government agencies to modify the terms and conditions of a contract to reimburse paid leave where contractor employees could not access work sites or telework but actions were needed to keep such employees in a ready state. We anticipate receiving additional guidance on how the Federal Government plans to implement this in the near future and will update this response once we receive such guidance. 

Post-Award

PPE may be direct charged to a sponsored project if it is needed to conform with reopening requirements* of research labs AND such costs are being consistently charged to all benefiting activities equitably (e.g., all sponsored projects and all non-sponsored activities with similar needs are required to cover their share of the cost of such items). Standard costing guidelines, including allocation expectations as outlined in Virginia Tech Policy No. 3240 Costing Principles for Sponsored Projects, must be followed for PPE wholly or partially charged to sponsored project funds.

If PPE is charged to multiple sponsored projects or to a combination of sponsored projects and institutional fund sources, the cost must be allocated based on proportional benefit. PPE should be purchased centrally through the Procurement Office whenever possible, and the COVID activity code should be used for all purchases related to the COVID pandemic. See the following page for further guidance.

*Pleaese note OVPRI has provided reopening guidance found here.

Yes, at this time the Office of Sponsored Programs is continuing to invoice all external sponsors as per agreement terms and conditions.

If you are experiencing challenges meeting deliverables or milestones in your contract, please contact your post award associate to discuss.

Researchers should document the actual impact of COVID-19 on the progress of their grants to provide substantiation for any future no-cost time extension requests. It is not known at this time whether agencies will consider longer-than-normal no-cost time extensions or multiple no-cost time extensions in this situation, but no-cost time extensions covered under expanded authorities will still be available for federal awards.

Due to the unusual circumstances, the Office of Sponsored Programs is asking the Principal Investigator (PI) to email their Program Officer/Manager and the Grants Administrator at the sponsor to make them aware of the anticipated delay in performance.  The contact information for these individuals will be outlined in the award document provided by the sponsor. The PI should copy their post award administrator on this email so that the sponsor is aware that an authorized representative of the university is aware of this delay. 

Yes. There are two ways to inform the post award associate of your intent to request a NCTE. If you receive an expiration notice that is autogenerated by the Banner system you may respond to the notification and provide your justification for the extension. If this extension is due to impact of COVID-19 on the research, please indicate that in your justification.

Second, if you know you will need to request a NCTE, please email your post award associate and provide your justification. They will review the sponsor requirements and contact you for additional information if needed. If you are unsure of who your post award associate is please use the Associate Look-Up Tool.

Yes. Banner will not post charges if the sponsored award is in deficit or if the period of performance has expired.  

Please remember, you may submit LOG requests with direct cost amount of more than $50,000 with proper justification. 

Changes to the current LOG procedure due to current unusual circumstances:

  • OSP will not check the available balance in the unrestricted fund provided by the department to use if the sponsor does not reimburse costs.
  • OSP will assume that the person making the request has obtained the appropriate authorization from the department head, center director or authorized designee prior to submitting a LOG request to OSP. 

Please review the LOG procedure 10003.

No. Please follow the current electronic approval procedure. OSP will process the subcontract invoices following our standard practice.

Please read the Ledger for new JE guidelines Vol E. No. 160 March 20, 2020

  • Use the JE Excel spreadsheet Journal Entry (Transfer) Form from the Controller’s web site.
  • Please print it as a PDF document. Attach the Banner Transaction report to the JE. 
  • If it is not practical to get a signature, include an email from an authorized approver stating that they reviewed and approved the JE. 
  • Merge all the documents into one PDF file and email it to your OSP Post Award Associate. 
  • Please follow the Cost Transfer Policy 3255 and OSP Procedure 30004.
  • You can find the Post Award Associates name from the Post Award Management System or Use the Associate Look-Up Tool. 
  • OSP will approve and send the JE to General Accounting for entry into Banner. 
  • If the supporting documents are not attached the JE will be returned via email. 
  • If debit and credit is to a sponsored award, then email the document to the Post Award Associate on the fund that is being debited/charged.

Guidance regarding these types of action on the Controller's Office website and in The Ledger.

Please see the COVID-19 Activity Code article in the March 4th release of The Ledger produced by the Controller's Office.

Please see directive from Ken Miller, interim vice president for finance, as outlined in The Ledger.

Financial Compliance and Integrity

Due to the current circumstances, the due date for completion and submission of Fall 2019 effort reports to OSP was extended to April 22, 2020.

Due to the current circumstances, associates and principal investigator (PI) can electronically certify the effort reports and departments can email them to OSP using pars@vt.edu email address. If the internet is limited, the associate/PI can send an email to pars@vt.edu or amind@vt.edu stating that the salary charged to the grant on the effort report is accurate and matches the effort spent on the grant. OSP will accept this as certification and attach the email to the PAR. If the effort report requires allocation of the effort, the associate/PI can document in the email the percentage of effort, and the Category where the effort needs to be allocated (Instruction & Departmental Research, Organized Research, Public Service or Departmental Administration).

Yes, the Office of Sponsored Programs (OSP) is working to create an electronic process to be used for PAR submission. Individuals who have not submitted their PAR will be contacted when this process is ready. OSP extended the deadline for Fall 2019 PAR submissions to April 22, 2020.

National Science Foundation (NSF) Proposers and Awardees FAQS   

Yes, please see NSF webpage: Impact on Existing Deadline Dates.

Your employing organization is an ideal starting point. In many cases, institutions of higher education have created websites offering information.Beyond that, we encourage you to consult the following resources:

All NSF grants are eligible for a one-year grantee-approved no-cost extension and then further extensions as approved by NSF. If you foresee a need for NSF-approved extensions, you should include that information in your annual report and discuss the need ahead of time with the cognizant NSF program officer for your award. See the Proposal & Award Policies & Procedures Guide (PAPPG), Chapter VI.D.3, for additional information.

You should contact the cognizant NSF program officer about this situation. In light of the public health threat, you may wish to consider alternate plans, such as providing or usingoptions for virtual participation. In addition, NSF program officers will be open to rescheduling the conference or using the funds for a future meeting that is consistent with the original scope and objectives of the award.

NSF is currently working internally as well as with our federal partners on a number of proposal and award-related issues pertaining to COVID-19. NSF will communicate with the community about these issues and will provide guidance as further information becomes available. In the meantime, please continue to follow all relevant policies and procedures, including those of your organization, and apply those practices consistently.

Researchers or sponsored projects office staff from organizations that have been affected and are unable to meet stated NSF deadlines should contact the cognizant NSF program office to discuss the issue. NSF will consider extensions to the submission deadline on a case-by-case basis (and, in a few cases, on a program-by-program basis), understanding that it may be particularly difficult for individuals impacted to contact NSF. See NSF PAPPG Chapter I.F for additional information on procedures for submitting such requests.

Contact the cognizant NSF program officer managing your award. Supplements can be made to address unexpected events that threaten the original scope and objectives of an award but are contingent on the availability of funding.

For any previously scheduled site visits, NSF staff will contact the awardee to make alternative arrangements, such as videoconferencing, to meet with the project team and review documentation. In cases where the presence of NSF staff on site is essential, NSF staff may make an in-person visit at a later date.

National Institutes of Health (NIH) FAQs

No. Per the information on Guidance for Applicants Preparing Applications for the Fall 2020 Due Dates During the COVID-19 Pandemic, contingency plans will not be considered in peer review but, if needed, COVID-19 contingency plans will be requested and carefully considered by NIH staff before funding.

 

NIH notice NOT-OD-20-086 requires the institution to contact the grant management specialist to let them know the report will be late. Email your post award associate if you expect the RPPR to be late. Please note that NIH will accept these late reports but will delay issuing grant awards until the reports are received and accepted by the appropriate Institute or Center (IC). You may need to have your Business Manager process a LOG to keep charging the grant while you are waiting for the incremental funding.

The NIH has posted several notices recently regarding the proposal submissions and deadlines. You will find the applicable notices here.

NIH is requiring institutions to notify NIH of problems, delays or adverse conditions related to COVID-19 on a grant-by-grant basis. NIH recognizes that institutions may not yet know the full impact of COVID-19 restrictions on their operations, but expects grants and program management staff to be notified as soon as practicable of delays and changes.

NIH has issued specific guidance stating that Research Performance Progress Reports due within the next 90 days should include a description of any COVID-19 effects and impact on research outcomes and a description of when recipients believe they will be able to include more detail about disruption to research efforts. See NIH FAQs, COVID-19 Flexibilities for Applicants and Recipients, Section IV.

Department of Energy

Yes, the Department of Energy has provided specific guidance regarding travel . Visit the department's Travel Guidance page for guidance.