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Memo Roll Back

A new White House memo rolls back changes put in place at the start of the COVID-19 pandemic that governed how grant funds could be spent, Science reports.

In a March memo, the White House Office of Management and Budget put in place temporary changes to how federal grant funds could be spent. Science notes that this enabled research institutions to continue to pay the salaries of researchers and staff even as labs closed down due to the pandemic. Other OMB memos also changed how researchers could get reimbursed for now-canceled travel or conferences and more, it adds.

But in a late June memo, OMB notes the US is beginning to open back up. As Science adds, the agency is still allowing, for a time, salaries to be charged to grants even if their labs are closed, but it has placed an additional restriction on doing so by requiring all other funding sources to be exhausted first. One administrator tells it, however, that it is unclear how they are supposed to document that effort, leading to uncertainty.