Research related FAQs have been organized by subject.
Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer announced Executive Order 2020-21, “Stay Home, Stay Safe,” taking effect at 12:01 am March 24th, 2020. The order has since been amended and extended through May 28, 2020. To comply with this order, and in an effort to protect the health and safety of the Michigan Tech community, the University has posted a Stay at Home protocol. Subsequent executive orders have allowed some research activities to begin again. See the following guidance:
- Research Ramp Up Matrix - posted May 20
- Ramping Up Research Checklist - posted May 20
- Research Ramp Up Plan
- Human Subjects Research Ramp Up Guidance
- Field Work Early Ramp Up Requirements
Michigan Tech research leaders will continue to assess the situation and communicate with the campus community as conditions change.
An outbreak of a respiratory disease caused by a novel (new) coronavirus named "2019 Novel Coronavirus" or "COVID-19" is affecting a large number of countries around the world, including the United States. The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) is closely monitoring developments and travel advisories are in place.
What are considered “critical” activities?
Per the Governor’s executive order: “For purposes of this order, workers who are necessary to sustain or protect life are defined as “critical infrastructure workers.” The University’s Stay at Home protocol specifies what this means on campus.
Critical research activities include research activities that:
- Ensure the continued viability of critical samples and/or animal populations.
- Maintain critical equipment and infrastructure that can not be safely shutdown.
- If discontinued, would pose a safety hazard.
- Require on-site monitoring or maintenance activities that are essential to avoiding catastrophic loss to equipment, critical samples, and/or data. Please work with your department chair (or dean for CFRES and COB) or center/shared facility director to confirm your work falls into this exemption category.
Updated March 23, 2020, 5:00 p.m.
Who are considered essential laboratory personnel?
Michigan Tech is closed to the public, students, and employees. Only individuals designated with access under Michigan Tech COVID-19 Protocol 20-6 may be on campus. If you require access and do not have written permission, contact your dean or supervisor.
Essential personnel are those few individuals who are responsible for monitoring and managing critical activities, such as those defined above. Each unit has already been asked to identify a list of essential personnel in coordination with your dean or vice president and this process will be finalized soon. Typically, essential personnel will be a principal investigator, laboratory manager, senior postdoc, senior technician, etc. related to a critical activity outlined above. Students may be listed as essential personnel, but cannot be the primary contact. They should be considered a secondary or tertiary contact to handle critical activities and laboratory emergencies.
Updated March 23, 2020, 5:00 p.m.
As information becomes available from sponsors concerning COVID-19 it will be updated here. More information can be found under Research Development in the FAQ's section or on the Council on Governmental Relations (COGR) COVID-19 Resources page. COGR has also prepared a matrix of the status at major federal grant-making agencies.
- US Department of Energy, Office of Science - Memorandum for Applicants and Awardees - 3/13/2020
- National Science Foundation Coronavirus Information
- National Science Foundation letter to Biological Sciences Community
- National Institutes of Health
- US Department of Agriculture
- US Department of Defense FAQs for Research Proposers and Awardees
- Office of Naval Research
The Office of Management and Budget has issued guidance on Federal contract performance, including:
- M-20-20 "Repurposing Existing Federal Financial Assistance Programs and Awards to Support the Emergency Response to the Novel Coronavirus (COVID-19)"Pertinant
- M-20-21 "Implementation Guidance for Supplemental Funding Provided in Response to the Coronavirus Disease (COVID-19)"
FAQ's from OMB
Should agencies be directing their Federal contractors to follow the lead of the Federal Government in their use of telework for their contract employees as described in 0MB Memoranda M-20-13 and M-20-15, which discuss the use of telework in connection with COVID-19?
The Federal Government's telework law and recent announcements cover only Federal managers and employees, not contractors or their employees. Federal contractors are responsible for managing their workforces, including how telework is used by their employees, consistent with their own telework policies and the contract terms they have negotiated with Federal agencies. However, in the spirit of OMB's guidance, which seeks to maximize the use of telework, and FAR § 7 .108, which instructs agencies not to discourage contractor use of telework when consistent with contractual requirements, agencies are strongly encouraged to work with their contractors to evaluate and maximize telework for their contractor employees, wherever possible, as a way to enable continued contract performance consistent with the health and safety of their contractor and government personnel. This includes modifying contracts that do not currently allow for telework. If a contract does not lend itself to telework, for example, because it must be performed at a government facility, agencies should consider being flexible on delivery schedule contract completion dates.
If contractor personnel must be quarantined due to exposure to the virus, whether or not related to performance of the contract, and this action results in a slip in the contract schedule, may contracts be extended or otherwise altered?
Yes. Government contracts provide for excusable delays, which may extend to quarantine restrictions due to exposure to COVID-19. For example, see FAR clauses 52.249-14, 52.212-4(±), and 52.211-13. In determining the best course of action, the contracting officer should discuss the situation with the contractor to determine if other options are available (e.g., ability of employee to telework or to find a substitute employee). If other options with the existing contractor aren't feasible, it may be appropriate to re-procure elsewhere if possible. Such actions should be taken for the convenience of the government (e.g., through use of the relevant convenience termination clause or a no-cost settlement) and without negatively impacting the contractor's performance rating. Excusable delays that result in adjustments to the contractor's delivery schedule should not negatively impact a contractor's performance ratings.
How should agencies address requests for equitable adjustment associated with costs related to safety measures taken by contractors to protect their employees from COVID-19, including costs associated with performance disruptions caused by the government (e.g., closure of an office building) when performance doesn't allow for telework (e.g., work requires access to secure location, or involves building maintenance)?
Requests for equitable adjustment should be considered on a case-by-case basis in accordance with existing agency practices, taking into account, among other factors, whether the requested costs would be allowable and reasonable to protect the health and safety of contract employees as part of the performance of the contract. The standard for what is "reasonable," according to FAR § 31.201-3, is what a prudent person would do under the circumstances prevailing at the time the decision was made to incur the cost (e.g., did the contractor take actions consistent with CDC guidance; did the contractor reach out to the contracting officer or the contracting officer representative to discuss appropriate actions).
Agencies may take into consideration whether it is beneficial to keep skilled professionals or key personnel in a mobile ready state for activities the agency deems critical to national security or other high priorities (e.g. , national security professionals, skilled scientists). Agencies should also consider whether contracts that possess capabilities for addressing impending requirements such as security, logistics, or other function may be retooled for pandemic response consistent with the scope of the contract. A number of contract clauses may be helpful in managing COVID-19 issues as they arise. The government may make changes to the contract using the appropriate changes clause that applies to the contract (see FAR clauses 52.243-1 through 52.243-3 or clause 52.212-4(c)). If necessary, generally after considering other alternatives, they may suspend or stop performance through clause 52.242-14, Suspension of Work, and clause 52.242-15, Stop Work Order.
Can I repurpose salary, supplies, etc charged to existing federal sponsored projects to support the emergency responses to COVID-19?
Sometimes. The Office of Management & Budget issued M-20-20 to federal agencies directing them to allow repurposing of salaries and items charged to sponsored projects. Some agencies have responded to this memorandum and issued requirements for allowability and prior approval. For specific agency requirement see the Council of Government Relations (COGR) matrix
Updated April 20, 2020, 9 a.m.