DOE Office of Science Principal Investigator COVID-19 Impact Survey - Questions & Answers (Q&As)

The following Q&As are provided to assist the Principal Investigators (PIs) who are responding to the SC PI Survey on COVID-19 Research Impacts. The SC PI Survey has been provided to PIs of SC-sponsored financial assistance research awards and SC-administered financial assistance awards.

If your question is not addressed here, please direct your question to the DOE Office of Science at SC.PISurvey@science.doe.gov.

A sample of the survey questions can be found here:  https://orausurvey.orau.org/n/SCPIQuestionPreview.aspx. It is recommend that Principal Investigators completing the survey review the survey questions in advance to identify the information requested and gather any needed information before attempting to complete the survey.



General Questions

Q: How long will the survey be open for?
A: The SC PI Survey will be available until 5:00 pm Eastern Time, Friday January 8, 2021.
Q: Why am I receiving this survey request from the DOE Office of Science (SC)?
A:

The Office of Science (SC) is conducting this survey of current Principal Investigators (PIs) on active SC financial assistance research awards to understand how research progress and personnel on research awards have been negatively impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic. Responses to the survey will inform options for SC’s response to the impacts within available resources. The survey includes DOE SBIR/STTR award recipients whose awards are administered by SC but may be funded by a non-SC DOE office.

 

Excluded from this survey are non-research related financial assistance awards (e.g. funding for conference travel only), and awards to other Federal agencies. DOE national laboratories do not receive funding through financial assistance awards and thus are also not within the scope of this survey.

Q: How long will it take to complete the SC PI survey?
A: It is estimated to take 10 to 15 minutes to complete the survey if all of the relevant information is readily available to the you. You can preview the survey questions by going to the following link:  https://orausurvey.orau.org/n/SCPIQuestionPreview.aspx . This site provides a sample of the survey questions. You will not be able to complete the survey from this link.  SC recommends reviewing the survey questions in advance to determine what information is requested and gathering any needed information before attempting to complete the survey.
Q: What will the DOE SC be doing with the answers I provide?
A: Survey responses will be aggregated by the Oak Ridge Institution for Science and Education (ORISE), who has partnered with the Office of Science (SC) to issue this survey. The survey responses will provide greater insights to SC management into how SC-sponsored research and research personnel and DOE SBIR/STTR recipients have been negatively impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic. Responses to the survey will inform options for SC’s response to the impacts within available resources. All individual responses will remain anonymous.
Q: I’m the Principal Investigator (PI) of one SC award, but I work on multiple SC awards. How should I organize my response?
A: Please complete a survey only for the one award for which you are the Principal Investigator (PI). For any other SC award that you perform work on, the PI for that award is responsible for completing a separate PI survey.
Q: Should I include information on impacts on subawards and corresponding subaward personnel in the survey responses about my award?
A: Yes. Please include the scope of subawards that are part of your award in your responses to the survey questions. You may need to contact subaward entities regarding questions on budget and personnel impacts.
Q: I am the lead PI of an award that is part of a group of collaborative awards that are funded separately. Should I include information from those awards in my survey?
A: No. If a collaboration is funded through a separate SC award, the PI’s of each award should complete a separate survey and only include information relevant to their specific award agreement.
Q: I am the PI on a DOE SBIR/STTR Award that is not funded by the Office of Science but is funded by another DOE office, should I complete a survey?
A: If your DOE SBIR/STTR Award is awarded through the DOE SBIR/STTR Programs Office, which is managed by the DOE Office of Science, then we ask that you complete a survey. If your DOE SBIR/STTR award is sponsored by Advanced Research Projects Agency –Energy (ARPA-E), please do not submit a survey.
Q: I am the PI on an SC award as well as an award from the DOE Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy, EERE. Should I complete a survey for the EERE award as well?
A: Please complete a survey requested by the Office of Science (SC) only for your SC-sponsored research award or if you are a DOE SBIR/STTR award recipient whose award is administered by SC.
Q: My SC award was for the support of travel for me and my students to attend a research conference. Do I need to complete a PI survey?
A: No. The current SC PI Survey is for research awards only.
Q: How do I identify the DOE SC Program Office supporting my award and my award number?
A: You can find the sponsoring office of your SC award and your award number by searching for your award on SC’s public Portfolio Analysis and Management System (PAMS).
Q: Will my responses to this survey automatically grant an extension to my award?
A: No. Should you require a no-cost extension on your current award, please contact your SC Program Manager for the award.
Q: Will SC be issuing a call for supplemental awards to address the impacts of the pandemic on research awards?
A: No decisions have been made at this time regarding how the Office of Science will directly address the financial impacts of the pandemic on research awards. The responses to the PI survey will help inform options for SC’s response to the impacts within available resources.
Q: I already completed a different survey request from my sponsoring SC program office; should I complete this survey as well?
A: Yes. This is an SC-wide survey of current impacts that will inform options for SC’s overall response to the impacts of the pandemic on SC research awards.

Impacts on Research Progress

Q: If the pandemic’s impact on my research is ongoing, how do I indicate that in the survey?
A: The SC survey is intended to capture the extent of negative impacts on SC research awards and DOE SBIR/STTR awards administered by SC up to the date that the survey is submitted. SC recognizes that research progress and research personnel will continue to be impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic for some time.
Q: Research progress on my SC award has been impacted by more than three of the areas identified in the survey question. How do I indicate this in the survey?
A: SC recognizes that there may be a number of causes of the negative impacts of research progress due to the COVID-19 pandemic. We ask that PIs assess those causes and identify the three that have had resulted in the greatest negative impact and rank order those three.
Q: How do I indicate that the need to shift my time and effort in remote teaching and supervising a distanced workforce has impacted research progress on my award?
A: The need to shift time due to remote teaching and remote supervising of a distanced workforce (research laboratory) is provided as one of the options listed in the survey question of possible areas causing delays in research progress. Please assess all of the areas negatively impacting research progress and rank order those areas appropriately.
Q: My award is most impacted by my collaborator’s inability to access a research field site during the pandemic. How should I reflect this in my response to the survey?
A: Select “Limited ability by collaborators on the award (including subawardees or subcontractors) to fulfill critical commitments due to the pandemic” as one of the areas that caused the most significant impacts to research progress on the award. Please rank order this area relative to other areas of impact, as appropriate.
Q: How do I indicate some positive impacts the pandemic has had on research progress for my award?
A: SC recognizes that the pandemic may have allowed for opportunities that resulted in positive impacts to research progress on an award. This SC PI survey is only requesting information in negative impacts to research awards as a result of the pandemic.

Impacts on Funding

Q: My collaborator’s graduate students and postdocs, who are supported under a subaward to my SC award, were not able to perform experimental work for almost 4 months. How do I account for the budget impacts for their loss in research progress?
A: Estimate the costs associated with the number of months for which graduate students and postdocs were unable to conduct experimental research or research related tasks but whose stipends/salaries and benefits were still charged to the award. Include this cost in the overall estimate of the negative impact to the award budget. If this cost is among the greatest sources of budget impacts on the award, identify “Other Personnel” as one of the options in your rank ordering of areas of budget impact.
Q: Should I estimate the cost of extending graduate student and postdoc appointments as part of the budget impacts of the pandemic on the award?
A: The estimated impacts to the award budget associated with graduate student and postdoc appointments should include the costs of salaries/stipends and benefits that were provided to graduate students and postdocs during a time period when little or no work could be performed on the award due to the pandemic, to reflect the loss in research progress.

Impacts on Personnel

Please note: The personnel related questions for DOE SBIR/STTR award recipients are different from the personnel questions asked of other awardees.

Q: Should I include the graduate students and postdocs on all subwards to this SC award when responding to the survey questions?
A: Yes. Graduate students and postdocs supported on the subawards and/or subcontracts to the SC-sponsored (non-SBIR/STTR) award should be included in responses to survey questions on award personnel.
Q: One of my graduate students just graduated over the summer, and I am now supporting them as a postdoc on the research project until they can find their next position. Should I account for them in my responses to questions on postdocs?
A: Please include them in your response to the question on the number of graduate students who graduated as planned in 2020 but who are still currently funded on the award because their next position has been delayed or cancelled. Also include them in the total number of postdocs supported on the award.