In February last year I blogged about the Office of Management and Budget (OMB)’s request for comments on proposed federal grant policy reforms. These policies, contained in multiple documents known as circulars, contain Fed-wide regulations on spending, not just for research grants. Many grantees and stakeholder organizations came forth and contributed comments. This information was taken into account by OMB to bring a number of these changes into fruition. The new guidance, “Uniform Administrative Requirements, Cost Principles, and Audit Requirements for Federal Awards”, was announced by OMB in December as one consolidated omnicircular. Here are just a few highlights:
- New effort reporting guidelines give grantees much more flexibility in how investigators document their time and effort on their award.
- Updated rules on charging administrative costs to grants as direct costs.
- Updated rules on directly charging computing devices that are necessary and support the work of, but are not solely dedicated to, a Federal award.
- Family-friendly policies allowing grantees more flexibility to address temporary dependent-care costs.
- All types of grantee institutions are allowed a one-time extension of indirect (“F&A”) costs, i.e. the option of extending negotiated rates for up to 4 years subject to approval of the Federal agency.
- Grantee organizations that have never received a negotiated indirect cost rate may choose to use a minimum 10% modified total direct cost rate instead.
There are many more changes contained in the new guidance, and OMB has provided some supplemental materials for those of you interested in detailed side-by-side comparisons of administrative requirements, cost principles, and audit policy changes. Stay tuned for NIH Guide notices regarding implementation as well.
I realize that not all the changes that our community suggested made it into the final version, but your input was instrumental in bringing about important modifications that are clarifying Federal cost principles and in some cases reducing administrative burdens. As always we will continue to monitor the impact of these changes and look for other opportunities to work with you to improve the way grants are administered.