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On March 19, 2020 the Office of Management and Budget (“OMB”) issued Memorandum M-20-17, “Administrative Relief for Recipients and Applicants of Federal Financial Assistance Directly Impacted by the Novel Coronavirus (COVID-19) due to Loss of Operations.”  The memorandum details the administrative relief available to an expanded scope of grant recipients and applicants, both by reminding federal agencies of existing authority to issue exceptions to grant requirements and authorizing agencies to take additional action as appropriate and to the extent permitted by law.

Pursuant to M-20-17, on March 20, the United States Agency for International Development (“USAID”) issued a USAID-specific memorandum adopting the following actions with respect to administrative provisions that apply to USAID grant recipients and applicants that are affected by the loss of operational capacity due to COVID-19:

  1. Flexibility with SAM registration: Grant applicants impacted by COVID-19 will not be required to have an active System for Award Management (“SAM”), and current SAM registrations set to expire within 60 days are extended for an additional 60 days.
  2. Flexibility with application deadlines: USAID may provide deadline flexibility with regard to applications in response to both specific announcements and unsolicited applications.
  3. Waiver for Notice of Funding Opportunities (“NOFOs”) Publication: USAID may publish notices of available funding for periods of less than 30 days.
  4. No-cost extensions on expiring awards: Awards set to expire between March 31, 2020 and December 31, 2020 will be extended automatically at no cost for up to 12 months.
  5. Abbreviated non-competitive continuation requests: For continuation requests due between April 1, 2020 to December 31, 2020, recipients need only submit a brief statement that they are in position to (i) resume or restore their project activities; and (ii) accept a planned continuation award.
  6. Allowability of salaries and other project activities: Recipients may continue to charge salaries and benefits to active Federal awards consistent with the recipients’ policy of paying salaries, and may charge other costs as necessary to resume activities, consistent with Federal cost principles.
  7. Allowability of Costs not Normally Chargeable to Awards: Recipients may charge 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.
  8. Prior approval requirement waivers: In order to allow recipients to effectively address the response, prior USAID approval requirements are waived.
  9. Exemption of certain procurement requirements: Requirements regarding geographical preferences and contracting with small and minority businesses, women’s business enterprises, and labor surplus area firms are waived.
  10. Extension of financial, performance, and other reporting: Recipients may continue to draw down Federal funds without submitting reports, and may delay submission of reports for 3 months beyond normal due dates.
  11. Extension of currently approved indirect cost rates: Recipients may continue to use currently approved indirect cost rates for one additional year.
  12. Extension of closeout: Recipients may delay submission of financial, performance and other reports for up to one year after the award expires.
  13. Extension of Single Audit submission: Recipients and subrecipients with fiscal year-ends through June 30, 2020, may delay submission of their Single Audit reporting package to six months beyond the normal due date.

In addition to providing the guidance detailed above, on March 20, 2020, USAID also updated its [Frequently Asked Questions (“FAQ”) concerning COVID-19 Implementing Partner Guidance (3.20.2020 COVID-19 FAQs)].  This document provides answers to dozens of recipient concerns related to COVID-19 in the following areas:

  1. General Questions
  2. Funding Opportunities
  3. Award Administration
  4. Allowable Costs
  5. Authorized Departures/Evacuations
    1. Guidance for Contractor Staff
    2. Guidance for Grant and Cooperative Agreement Staff
  6. Telework
  7. Audits
  8. OMB Memos M-20-11 and M-20-17