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Agencies Make Allowances for Impact of COVID-19 on Spending, Deadlines

Time can seem both elastic and yet meaningless during a public health emergency like the one the world is experiencing now due to COVID-19. It is almost unbelievable to think that even a month or two ago, institutions—and the federal government—did not have this pandemic on their radar. Universities and others have often had to make difficult decisions without direction from the government (see story, p. 1).[1]

But now agencies are pumping out guidance and, in some cases, responding incredibly quickly when they are told the guidance is lacking. To help keep the research community up to date, the Council on Governmental Relations (COGR) has posted links to both agency and institutional responses to COVID-19.[2]

Among the largest funder of research and, in particular, clinical studies, NIH has been active in issuing guidance. As of RRC’s deadline, it had issued more than a half-dozen separate documents. Among them:

  • NIH LATE APPLICATION POLICY Due to Public Health Emergency for United States for 2019 Novel Coronavirus (COVID-19), issued March 9,

  • General Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) - Proposal Submission and Award Management Related to COVID-19, issued March 10,

  • Flexibilities Available to Applicants and Recipients of Federal Financial Assistance Affected by COVID-19, issued March 12,

  • Guidance for NIH-funded Clinical Trials and Human Subjects Studies Affected by COVID-19, issued March 16,

NIH also posted a YouTube video of Michael Lauer, NIH deputy director of extramural research, talking about flexibilities, but there is no transcript (the video is 8 1/2 minutes long).[3]

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