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White House Extends Salary Flexibility for Sidelined Scientists

June 18, 2020, 11:04 PM

Universities and other federal grant recipients can continue to pay researchers who cannot work while the Covid-19 pandemic keeps laboratories closed, under a Trump administration directive issued Thursday.

The White House Office of Management and Budget issued a memo extending flexibilities that expired June 16. The new sunset date is Sept. 30, which marks the end of the fiscal year.

The memo applies to all federal agencies that issue grants. That includes almost 30 agencies, including the National Institutes of Health. It extends authorities initially issued in March that aimed to provide relief to grantee institutions during the pandemic.

Institutions are typically required to demonstrate that their researchers actually did the work outlined in a grant. Universities and other research institutions must certify that the effort reported to a federal agency like the NIH reflects the actual amount of time spent on that grant. But the pandemic shuttered laboratories across the U.S., so the flexibility aimed to allow research institutions to pay their investigators during that time.

To contact the reporter on this story: Jeannie Baumann in Washington at

To contact the editors responsible for this story: Fawn Johnson at; Peggy Aulino at