Duke Office of Research
Date: Thursday, July 23, 2020
To: Duke University Research Community
Re: Change in Policy Regarding Funding Idle Time on Sponsored Research
Dear Colleagues,
On June 18 the federal Office of Management and Budget issued M-20-26, a memo that extended the authority to agencies to allow universities to continue to charge non-productive time on federal awards with two major limitations:
  1. it must be consistent with institutional policies to fund all salaries from all fund sources and,
  2. that all other available University funds had been exhausted.
Given these imposed limitations, Duke has chosen NOT to continue charging idle time to grants and contracts. Almost all of our research-intensive peer institutions are in the process of adopting the same policy. Therefore, effective June 17, 2020, only charges for grant-related productive work can be charged to externally sponsored grants and contracts (both federal and non-federal). All charges for idle time MUST be retroactively removed back through June 17 and effort cannot be charged to the project until the employee is able to perform work that benefits the award.
All individuals who are idled due to COVID-19, and consequently cannot perform work that can be charged to an external funding source, must continue to track that time. Principal Investigators (PIs) must use the MyResearchHome portal to track projects with idle time. (A video tutorial for using the tracking tool can be found here.) Idle time must be tracked for compliance and auditing purposes, and for the possibility that the federal government approves resources to universities to help ameliorate the financial impact of COVID-19. PIs should work with their department chairs/division chiefs or center/institute directors to determine if alternative funding sources are available to sustain idle personnel. Moving staff to other projects where they can be productive is appropriate, along with using appropriate paid time off with vacation and sick leave in accordance with university guidance.
Lawrence Carin,
Vice President for Research
Subscribe to our email list.