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Updates on COVID Procedures for the U.S. Academic Research Fleet and NSF Supported Costs

June 17, 2021

The UNOLS ship operators of the U.S Academic Research Fleet (ARF) successfully managed ship operations through the 2020 pandemic and the first half of 2021.  Gratefully, the mitigation measures implemented kept the vessels safe from the pandemic.  
Recently, UNOLS updated the COVID guidance to reflect the positive trends of COVID-19, vaccination, and the CDC’s guidance for relaxed protocols ( 
A summary table is included below; please refer to the linked document for details.  
NSF has also modified our guidance on reimbursing costs associated with mitigating the risk of COVID-19 aboard the ARF.  COVID-19 costs associated with performing science research activities must be allocated to the appropriate science awards for the remainder of 2021.  Effective 08/01, 2021 science party COVID costs associated with sea-going operations cannot be allocated to the ship’s cooperative agreements.  Pandemic expenses (such as testing and quarantine costs) associated with sea-going operations must be allocated to the appropriate science research grants.  
OCE science programs will continue to consider supplements to projects impacted by the pandemic for the next few years.  We expect PIs to mitigate unplanned pandemic costs to their projects using existing flexibilities in budgeting and project extensions.  Supplements will be considered near the end of projects when other options are not possible.  See the guidance regarding the OCE COVID response at
OMB Memo M-21-20 provides additional guidance.  The Foundation has issued NSF’s Implementation of the OMB Memorandum M-21-20, Appendix 3 entitled, Disaster Relief Flexibilities to Reduce Burden for Financial Assistance.  NSF has implemented flexibilities authorized by OMB to specific administrative, financial management, and audit requirements contained in 2 CFR § 200, Uniform Administrative Requirements, Cost Principles and Audit Requirements for Federal Awards, without compromising accountability requirements.
Please let your Cognizant  NSF OCE Program Officer and NSF Grants Officer know if you have any questions regarding this revised approach towards the treatment of allocating costs related to mitigating COVID-19.
Terry Quinn
Division Director, OCE

The U.S. National Science Foundation propels the nation forward by advancing fundamental research in all fields of science and engineering. NSF supports research and people by providing facilities, instruments and funding to support their ingenuity and sustain the U.S. as a global leader in research and innovation. With a fiscal year 2021 budget of $8.5 billion, NSF funds reach all 50 states through grants to nearly 2,000 colleges, universities and institutions. Each year, NSF receives more than 40,000 competitive proposals and makes about 11,000 new awards. Those awards include support for cooperative research with industry, Arctic and Antarctic research and operations, and U.S. participation in international scientific efforts.

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