DBI: Still Open For Business! (Plus No-Cost Extensions and Annual Reports During COVID-19)

Our friends in DEB wrote about managing your awards during a pandemic. You can read their post here or on our blog below:

The Division of Biological Infrastructure (DBI) would like to assure the scientific community that via remote access and virtual communication, we are fully operational! DBI is committed to supporting our community and accomplishing the mission of the National Science Foundation (NSF). As such, we continue to welcome and value your proposal submissions, virtual panel service, and general correspondence.

At the same time, DBI acutely aware of the stress that the COVID-19 pandemic is placing on institutions and PIs. Therefore, we wanted to take a moment to remind PIs about no-cost extensions, with a brief note on annual reporting:

No-cost extensions are both common and easy to request. Knowing how they work may help relieve some of the tension PIs are now feeling.

Key points:

  1. Grantees (your institution!) are pre-authorized by NSF to provide a one-time extension of the end date of the grant of up to 12 months if additional time beyond the established end date is required to assure completion of the original scope of work with existing funds. All “grantee-approved” extension requests must be signed and submitted by your institutional representative via Research.gov. If you are going to request a no-cost extension, always first request the “grantee-approved” type.
  2. If additional time beyond the first extension is required, and exceptional circumstances warrant, a formal request to NSF must be signed and submitted by the institutional grants officer via NSF’s electronic systems. The request should be submitted to NSF via Research.gov at least 45 days prior to the end date of the grant. This is called an “NSF-approved” no-cost extension and is a bigger deal than the “grantee-approved” type. You will need to provide the current balance (funds remaining) of the award and your plans for spending it.
  3. Regardless of which type of no-cost extension you may request, it’s critically important to understand that remaining funds can only be spent on work described in your funded proposal (i.e., within the original scope of your award). If you have questions about this, it’s best to call the NSF Program Officer who is managing your award.

If you plan on submitting a request for a no-cost extension, you need to do so BEFORE the final annual report is due; DO NOT submit a final report unless the request is denied.

A note on annual reports:

DBI is also aware than many PIs might struggle to accomplish much research during university closures and in turn might worry about their outputs for annual reports. Please submit brief but accurate reports, making note of expected slowdowns. Again, DBI is sympathetic to the exceptional circumstances taking place.

We appreciate all the effort and work our research community is doing to keep moving forward and adapt to the rapid changes of these times. We urge you to also check in regularly either here or with your program staff for any new guidance from NSF during these particularly volatile times.

Further information on NSF response to COVID-19 including the latest FAQs for awardees and panelists, can be found at https://www.nsf.gov/news/special_reports/coronavirus/. For specific questions or comments, please reach out to a DBI Program Director. You can also participate in our BIO-wide Virtual Office Hours this week, which will provide the biological science community an opportunity to share concerns, ask questions, or offer suggestions on how we can do more to address this national emergency.

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