Updated: September 30, 2020


OMB Memo 20-17 expired on June 16, 2020.  Flexibilities outlined below are only available March 16, 2020  - June 16, 2020.

OMB Memo 20-26 expired on September 30, 2020. If implemented by federal agencies, the flexibilities are only available March 16, 2020 - September 30, 2020. Costs covered include salary costs (Salary Expenses:  Disruptions due to COVID-19) and costs necessary to resume research.


The Federal Office of Management and Budget (OMB) issued Memo 20-17 allowing Federal Agencies to provide Administrative Relief for the COVID-19 emergency. The memo provides a framework of areas where relief can be provided. If they chose to provide Administrative Relief, Federal Agencies may follow all or part of the OMB framework.

The OMB memo is addressed to Federal Agencies (not recipients such as the UW) and includes some information that applies to UW's central offices (e.g., Internal Audit or GCA). Some information, however, does apply directly to departments who are incurring costs on and administering Federal Awards.

Below is a breakdown of the different areas addressed in the OMB memo. We have retained the item numbers from the original memo and organized them by units at UW responsible for implementing each set of guidelines. The language from the OMB memo is in italics; our explanatory or supplemental information is in regular text after each relevant section.

Departments: Award Expenditures

6. Allowability of salaries and other project activities (2 CFR § 200.403, 2 CFR § 200.404, 2 CFR § 200.405)

Awarding agencies may 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.

UW: See PAFC’s webpage on salary during COVID-19 for more information.

Awarding agencies may 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.

UW Translation: Costs incurred that are necessary to resume research are allowable. For example, the travel costs for a researcher to return to a research site that had to be vacated, or the replacement cost of ruined or expired research supplies.  

Awarding agencies may also evaluate the grantee's ability to resume the project activity in the future and the appropriateness of future funding, as done under normal circumstances based on subsequent progress reports and other communications with the grantee.

UW Translation: Consult with the Sponsor prior to resuming research. It may be decided that the scope of work should be modified or that the Award should be terminated and a revised Award, that takes into account the current situation, be issued.

Awarding agencies must require recipients to maintain appropriate records and cost documentation as required by 2 CFR § 200.302 -Financial management and 2 CFR § 200.333 -Retention requirement of records to substantiate the charging of any salaries and other project activities costs related to interruption of operations or services.

UW Translation: Be sure to retain documentation of all expenditures and Sponsor approvals. Audits typically happen years after the Award has ended and hopefully by then, COVID-19 will be a distant memory. The more documentation, the better on these issues.

7. Allowability of Costs not Normally Chargeable to Awards

Awarding agencies may 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 2 CFR § 200.403, Factors affecting allowability of costs, 2 CFR § 200.404, Reasonable costs, and 2 CFR § 200.405, Allocable costs. Awarding agencies may allow recipients to charge full cost of cancellation when the event, travel, or other activities are conducted under the auspices of the grant.

UW Translation: Costs associated with an activity (e.g., travel, conference, other event) that was cancelled because of COVID-19 may be allowable. Keep in mind that this only applies to:

  • Costs that were incurred prior to the cancellation; this does not apply to costs incurred after the COVID-19 cancellation;
  • The original cost must be an allowable expense. Unallowable costs do not become allowable if a Sponsor grants exceptions to their requirements. For example, if an airline ticket was purchased that was not in compliance with the Fly America Act, the cost of the cancellation fee/cancelled ticket is not now allowable because of the COVID-19 emergency.  

Awarding agencies must advise recipients that they should not assume additional funds will be available should the charging of cancellation or other fees result in a shortage of funds to eventually carry out the event or travel.

UW Translation: Do not assume that supplemental funding will be made available to cover additional costs incurred due to COVID-19.  

Awarding agencies must require recipients to maintain appropriate records and cost documentation as required by 2 CFR § 200.302 -Financial management and 2 CFR § 200.333 ­Retention requirement of records, to substantiate the charging of any cancellation or other fees related to interruption of operations or services

UW Translation: Per above, be sure to fully document all expenditures and Sponsor communications.

As appropriate, awarding agencies may list additional guidance on specific types of costs on their websites and/or provide a point of contact for an agency program official.

UW Translation: OMB is allowing for Federal Agencies to issue their own guidance; such guidance does not have to align with this OMB memo. 

Departments: Administrative Actions

The following items pertain to Award processes managed by departments:

8. Prior approval requirement waivers. (2 CPR § 200.407)

Awarding agencies are authorized to waive prior approval requirements as necessary to effectively address the response. All costs charged to Federal awards must be consistent with Federal cost policy guidelines and the terms of the award, except where specified in this memorandum.

UW: More information on Prior Approval Waivers.

9. Exemption of certain procurement requirements. (2 CPR§ 200.319(b), 2 CPR§ 200.321)

Awarding agencies may waive the procurement requirements contained in 2 CPR§ 200.319(b) regarding geographical preferences and 2 CPR§ 200.321 regarding contracting small and minority businesses, women's business enterprises, and labor surplus area firms.

4. No-cost extensions on expiring awards. (2 CFR § 200.308)

To the extent permitted by law, awarding agencies may 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. This will allow time for recipient assessments, the resumption of many individual projects, and a report on program progress and financial status to agency staff. Project-specific financial and performance reports will be due 90 days following the end date of the extension. Awarding agencies will examine the need to extend other project reporting as the need arises.

Departments: Proposal Submission

The following two items are for departments to consider when submitting NSF proposals:

1. Flexibility with SAM registration. (2 CFR § 200.205)

Awarding agencies can relax the requirement for active System for Award Management (SAM) registration at time of application in order to expeditiously issue funding. At the time of award, the requirements of 2 CFR § 200.205, Federal awarding agency review of risk posed by applicants, continue to apply. Current registrants in SAM with active registrations expiring before May 16, 2020 will be afforded a one-time extension of 60 days.

2. Flexibility with application deadlines. (2 CFR § 200.202)

A warding agencies may provide flexibility with regard to the submission of competing applications in response to specific announcements, as well as unsolicited applications. As appropriate, agencies should list specific guidance on their websites and/or provide a point of contact for an agency program official.

Department & GCA Processes

Federal Agencies may extend their reporting and close-out deadlines:

10. Extension of financial, performance, and other reporting. (2 CPR§ 200.327, 2 CPR§ 200.328)

Awarding agencies may 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 will continue to draw down Federal funds without the timely submission of these reports. However, these reports must be submitted at the end of the postponed period. In addition, awarding agencies may 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 (200 CPR 200.328(d)(l).

12. Extension of closeout. (2 CPR§ 200.343)

A warding agencies may 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, provided that proper notice about the reporting delay is given by the grantee to the agency. This delay in submitting closeout reports may not exceed one year after the award expires.

MAA and Internal Audit

These two items will be addressed by Management Accounting and Analysis (MAA) and Internal Audit. No action needs to be taken by any other UW unit:

11. Extension of currently approved indirect cost rates. (2 CPR§ 200.414 (c))

Awarding agencies 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. Agencies may approve grantee requests for an extension on the use of the current rates for one additional year without submission of an indirect cost proposal. Agencies may also approve grantee requests for an extension of the indirect cost rate proposal submission to finalize the current rates and establish future rates.

13. Extension of Single Audit submission. (2 CFR § 200.512)

Awarding agencies, in their capacity as cognizant or oversight agencies for audit, should allow recipients and subrecipients 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, as required under Subpart F of 2 CFR § 200.501 -Audit Requirements, to six (6) months beyond the normal due date. No further action by awarding agencies is required to enact this extension. This extension does not require individual recipients and subrecipients to seek approval for the extension by the cognizant or oversight agency for audit; however, recipients and subrecipients should maintain documentation of the reason for the delayed filing. Recipients and subrecipients taking advantage of this extension would still qualify as a "low-risk auditee" under the criteria of 2 CFR § 200.520 (a)-Criteria for a low-risk auditee.

Internal to Federal Agencies

These two items are internal to Federal Agencies. No action needs to be taken by any UW unit:

3. Waiver for Notice of Funding Opportunities (NOFOs) Publication. (2 CFR § 200.203)

For competitive grants and cooperative agreements, awarding agencies can publish emergency Notice of Funding Opportunities (NOFOs) for less than thirty (30) days without separately justifying shortening the timeframe for each NOFO. Awarding agencies would still be required to document and track NOFOs published for less than thirty (30) days under this emergency waiver.

5. Abbreviated non-competitive continuation requests. (2 CFR § 200.308)

For continuation requests scheduled to come in from April 1, 2020 to December 31, 2020, from projects with planned future support, awarding agencies may accept a brief statement from recipients to verify that they are in a position to: 1) resume or restore their project activities; and 2) accept a planned continuation award. Awarding agencies should post any specific instructions on their website. Awarding agencies will examine the need to extend this approach on subsequent continuation award start dates as recipients have an opportunity to assess the situation.