Sponsored Programs outlines ‘idle time’ guidance on federal funding

News for Researchers

Posted August 12, 2020 by Dan Moser

New guidance from the federal Office of Management and Budget allows researchers to continue to charge “idle time” due to COVID-19 to their research awards, but additional documentation will be required.

The Office of Management and Budget’s initial memo on idle time expired in June; the new policy covers research from June 18 to Sept. 30.

“Idle time” is defined as time researchers were unable to work on their research due to disruptions from COVID-19. A common example of this is the inability to continue work due to a lab shutdown. If researchers are able to continue progress on their award and the time they spent on the project was generally consistent with the planned salary allocation, they can report their time as “active.”

For those who need to declare idle time, the Office of Sponsored Programs has prepared a form for reporting it. On the form, researchers should document any additional funding sources available and provide a reason these sources are not being used to offset costs.

This documentation is only necessary for research taking advantage of this flexibility from June 18-Sept. 30. This time tracking is necessary for compliance purposes. Also, the University of Nebraska-Lincoln is audited annually under Uniform Guidance and it is believed this documentation will be requested as part of future audits.

More information is available here.

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