Guidance for NDSU Principal Investigators for Researchers Paid on Federal Grants or Contracts During COVID-19 Pandemic


  1. Assess the scope of your award and the wording of the proposal and award. Although many federal agencies have provided flexibility in the allowability of costs due to research disruption caused by COVID-19, it cannot be assumed that additional funds will be available should these costs result in a shortage of funds to perform the objectives of the grant. To the extent possible, the integrity of the grant objectives must be preserved.

  2. Specifically identify, list, and formally record all possible and reasonable activities that meet the expectations and scope of work which may be accomplished in a remote setting such as a researcher’s home. Examples of these activities may include literature review pertaining to the grant, bibliographic collections pertaining to the grant, data analysis, data preparation, statistical runs using various models, writing of papers on the work, meta data preparation, data management preparation to meet DMP requirements, data repository searches for use with the project, etc.

  3. Share that list with your paid researchers for discussion so that all researchers understand the work you have identified.

  4. Make work assignments for all researchers to be accomplished in instances of quarantine and remote working.

  5. Maintain appropriate records and cost documentation as to which and when researchers are being paid when working remotely or work is diminished. Document costs incurred due to 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. These are anticipated to be required for relief documentation and various grant justifications such as extensions, supplements, progress, etc.

  6. If no assignments are feasible, no work is possible, or work is diminished to the point that expected effort cannot be reasonably justified, then salaries paid from the grant will need to be adjusted accordingly or moved to other sources, as federal guidelines mandate. Please contact Jane Schuh if you need to talk through options.

Remember to

  • Always use temporal and spatial distancing in your lab.

  • Declutter your lab spaces to the highest extent possible. Consider what and how you would conduct disinfection in your lab space if necessary.
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