Academic Affairs Updates (SVPP COVID-19 Communication #9)

May 5, 2020

I am writing to call your attention to three recent decisions related to the work by faculty, staff, and students in the Division of Academic Affairs.

Federal guidance allows all-funds approach for researcher pay

Faculty should be aware of guidance issued by the federal Office of Management and Budget (OMB) that provides flexibility and administrative relief, for both agencies and grant recipients, with respect to federal awards during the COVID-19 pandemic. This relief includes a provision by which awarding agencies may allow recipients to continue charging salaries and benefits to currently active federal awards consistent with the recipient organization's policy of paying salaries (under unexpected or extraordinary circumstances) from all funding sources.

Iowa State University has therefore adopted an emergency pay policy consistent with this federal guidance which takes an all-funds approach for pay to faculty, staff, students, and post docs. That policy is also accessible through the UHR COVID-19 website. The principles governing pay are the same regardless of the source of funds used, including funds associated with federal awards.

Other provisions of OMB’s guidance include:

  • Allowability of costs that are not typically chargeable to awards
  • Flexibility with proposal deadlines
  • No-cost extensions that on expiring awards to allow for completion of work
  • Extensions for financial, performance, and other reporting
  • Extension of currently approved IDC rates
  • Publicizing new funding opportunities for less than the 30-day standard

These exceptions are time-limited and will be reassessed by OMB. Each federal awarding agency is required to issue its own individual guidance for grant recipients. Please refer to the Vice President for Research website for more detailed agency information and other research updates.

It is also important for faculty to be aware of the implications associated with utilizing the flexibility afforded by the OMB and agencies with respect to salaries and benefits, and to be cautious and thoughtful about the long-term impact on funding remaining for a specific sponsored project. There is no assurance or guarantee that additional funding will become available for the project through agencies, potentially impacting the ability of researchers to complete projects and meet deliverables if funding is used in this manner.

Travel restrictions for university business remain in place

Travel restrictions remain in place as previously announced. Out-of-state travel for non-essential business purposes continues to be prohibited, and regardless of fund source. University-sponsored visitors to campus from other states are not allowed without approval of my office. The prohibition extends to performing university business, such as delivering an invited lecture or serving as a visiting scholar, during personal travel, although incidental business activities such as answering phone calls or emails can be performed while on personal travel.

Student internships, practica, and preceptorships which require domestic travel and are for course credit or as required by degree programs are essential for student academic progress and are allowed by the university.

Recruitment guidance extended to June 30

As an update to my March 25 memorandum SVPP COVID-19 Communication #4, Hiring and Recruitment in Academic Affairs, the delegation for recruitment/hiring and the guidelines for faculty and postdoc recruitment are extended to June 30, 2020. That date could be further extended as the pandemic’s status warrants.

I ask that you continue to carefully evaluate all searches and hiring requests with respect to strategic need and financial implications given our planning for FY21 and FY22 budget reductions. I also encourage you to consider alternative options, such as whether needed work can be performed on a temporary basis by reassigning duties in the light of expected enrollment decreases.