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Uniform Guidance Revisions

On August 13, 2020 the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) issued its Final Guidance on amendments to the OMB 2 CFR 200 (Uniform Guidance) Uniform Administrative Requirements, Cost Principles, and Audit Requirements for Federal Awards. With two exceptions that were effective August 13, 2020, these revisions were effective November 12, 2020.

The revisions incorporate current goals and initiatives of the Administration, statutory requirements, and clarifications of exciting requirements. Several of the revisions are designed “to measure recipient performance to improve program goals and objectives.” For the most part, these revisions grant agencies flexibility in designing and monitoring programs and encourage the use of data collection and reliance on data to identify best practices.

The Office of Sponsored Programs (OSP) is working to make any changes needed to procedures.

Resources

Council on Governmental Relations – Implementation and Readiness Guide for the OMB Uniform Guidance

This document includes all of the revisions, their impact and COGR’s comments on impact to the management of federal awards.

Research Terms and Conditions – Several federal agencies have adopted the Research Terms and Conditions which have been updated to respond to the revisions of 2 CFR 200 (Uniform Guidance).

Research Terms and Conditions Agency Implementation Statements

Research Terms and Conditions Agencies include:

RTC Overlay to 2 CFR 200

These Research Terms and Conditions implement the requirements of 2 CFR 200 (Uniform Guidance), issued by the U.S. Office of Management and Budget (OMB), as it applies to research and research-related grants made by the Federal awarding agencies specified (somehow outline the agencies above) to institutions of higher education and non-profit organizations.

Clarity is provided only for the specific Uniform Guidance provisions that are noted in the following table. Unless noted in the table, the Uniform Guidance provisions apply to these Research General Terms and Conditions as written in 2 CFR 200. Recipients also must refer to Agency-Specific Requirements. RTC Appendix Prior Approval Matrix RTC Appendix B Subaward Requirements RTC Appendix C National Policy Requirements.

Any federal agency not included in the sections above have implemented the 2 CFR 200 revisions as implemented by the Office of Management and Budget.

Revisions Highlighted for Faculty and Principal Investigators

While OSP strongly encourages the review of the all of the revisions, of particular importance to faculty and Principal Investigators (PI) are the following revisions. It is critical that the PI read through each award document – grant, cooperative agreement or contract, to understand the terms and conditions that apply to that award.

OMB strengthened the ability of federal awarding agencies to terminate awards when the award “no longer effectuates the program goals or agency priorities”. There is ambiguity and uncertainty in terms of how much discretion federal awarding agencies have in determining whether an award “no longer effectuates the program goals or priorities”. The new termination provisions enable agencies to terminate awards for reasons other than poor performance.

These two new sections in 2 CFR 200 incorporate section 889 of the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) for FY 2019 (implemented August 13, 2020).

This prohibits the obligation or expenditure of federal funds and awards for the use of “covered telecommunications equipment or services” Covered telecommunications equipment or services include such items provided by Huawei Technology Company, ZTE Corporation, or any of their many subsidiaries or affiliates.

This requirement will be flowed down to subrecipients which may cause an issue with some entities, in particular foreign entities. If it is determined this is an issue during the subrecipient risk assessment phase the Principal Investigator will be engaged in discussion with OSP staff.

Virginia Tech Process

The Office of Export and Secure Research Compliance (OESRC) and Procurement Department work together to screen vendors to ensure no purchases are made from prohibited companies.

The purchasing of telecommunication and video surveillance equipment must be purchased through HokieMart and not on a Pcard in order to ensure compliance with this new regulation.

Measuring awardee performance is addressed, from program design to award management. A new clause 200.301 states, Federal award agencies “must measure the recipient’s performance to show achievement of the program goals and objectives, share lessons learned, improve program outcomes and foster adoption of promising practices.”

200.329 enables recipients to have an additional 30 days to file final reports with the Federal agency, that is, up to 120 days after the end of the performance period. Also, added is the requirement that if awardees do not submit reports within one year, the awarding agency must report to OMB as a material failure to comply with the award terms and conditions.

Of note: Federal agencies may take exceptions to the OMB terms/conditions and not allow the extra 30 days. Please read the terms and conditions of your award.

The UG clarifies the point that publication costs may be charged during closeout (after the end of the formal period of performance) and charged to the final budget period. It does not appear to prevent publication costs from being charged to other budget periods. Revisions point to less flexibility in terms of spending between budget periods.

An important new section 200.403 states that “cost must be incurred during the approved budget period”. Awards that are executed under 200.308, expanded authority allow more flexibility. Agency implementation is important.

A new sentence has been added at the end of 200.458 that states that pre-award costs “must be charged to the initial budget period of the award, unless otherwise specified by the Federal awarding agency. Awards under 200.308 are more flexible. Agency implementation is important.

200.344 provides recipients 120 calendar days after the end date of the period of performance to submit all financial, performance, and other reports as required by the terms and conditions of the Federal award. Subrecipients must submit their closeout reports no later than 90 calendar days (or earlier as determined by the subaward terms and conditions) after the end date period of performance.

If the recipient fails to complete the requirements, the Federal awarding agency or pass-through entity will proceed with the Federal award’s closeout with the information available. If awardees do not submit reports within one year, the awarding agency must report to OMB as a material failure to comply with the award terms and conditions. This could impact a Federal agencies decision to make an award to an institution or a Principal Investigator.