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COVID-19 Frequently Asked Questions

This page was updated April 8.

Please see a recorded Zoom meeting held April 7 by Meta Loftsgaarden, Executive Director, to discuss COVID-19 implications for grant awards. OWEB received a number of questions during the April 7 Zoom calls. We anticipate posting answers to all questions by Friday, April 10.

OWEB Responsiveness on Requests

Will OWEB still be processing requests for reimbursements at this time?

Yes. Many of our systems and processes have gone online in recent years. Project managers are available via phone and email to answer questions and process payment requests. Fiscal staff are working both in the office and remotely to process payments and managers are around to sign payments. Everything might take a little longer, but payments will continue to be processed.

Grant Deadlines, Payment Requests, Extension Flexibility

Will upcoming grant deadlines change?

OWEB has extended the Open Solicitation deadline to May 11, 2020; please see the announcement. Other deadlines, including the June 30, 2020 FIP deadline, have not been changed.

Will OWEB offer flexibility related to grants already in place, including extending grant timelines, allowing more flexibility with budget amendments and progress report/final report deliverables? Underlying concerns include the inability to complete field-work and stakeholder/public engagement activities, and the need for employees to scale down from 1.0 FTE positions due to inability to safely complete field work and unavailability of child-care, etc.

OWEB will absolutely work with grantees as the situation evolves to be as adaptable and flexible as possible. Grantees should work with their project managers to discuss individual project timelines, budgets, and deliverables and request extensions and amendments through OWEB's existing procedures.

OWEB tracks how many grant extensions an organization requests and a pattern of extensions can affect evaluation outcomes and the strength of future proposals. Can OWEB exempt COVID-19 related extension requests from those metrics?

The grantee admin review, which is completed once a biennium, does take into account time extensions and late reports when assessing a grantee's risk. However, this information is not used in the evaluation of grant applications. For the next biennial review we will not use data on time extensions and late reports during the period of the COVID-19 emergency when calculating the overall grantee admin review score and the risk level.

Small grants are not eligible for time extensions per the Small grant rules. Can OWEB waive this rule and allow time extensions on Small grants during the COVID-19 emergency?

Yes, we will waive the rule.

Can we still charge a grant the cost to register for an event if we don't get 100% of the refund (i.e. the CONNECT conference)?

Yes.

Will core partnership signatures still be required for Implementation FIP applications?

Electronic signatures are allowed and can be used. Applicants should communicate directly with grant program staff if there are challenges in meeting specific application requirements, including signatures.

What if a grantee can’t get a signature on the county land use form, which is necessary prior to first payment?

An email approval from the county planning office will be accepted in lieu of a signature. The email must reference the applicant name, project name, and reference the relevant information from Section 2 of the Land Use form.

Will grant agreements continue to be held up for outstanding reports?

In most cases grant agreements will not be held up for outstanding reports during the COVID-19 emergency. Administrative staff will work with managers and project managers to get as many grant agreements out as quickly as possible. OWEB staff have created a blanket rule waiver which will be placed in files as necessary.

Use of OWEB Funds Related to COVID-19

Will OWEB explore offering an enhancement of current grants and/or a new stimulus-focused RFP? This might help maintain services for grantees experiencing financial hardship due to COVID-19.   

We don't know at this time. Any decisions will be considered in light of federal stimulus response as well.

Could OWEB funds be diverted to deal with the COVID-19 emergency and therefore cause a shortage of funds to grantees?

No, Measure 76 funds are constitutionally dedicated funds and cannot be used for purposes outside those described in the enabling constitution and statutes.

Can grantees with existing project grants use OWEB funds to purchase equipment and software necessary to set-up staff for teleworking (i.e. laptops, teleconference devices, remote meeting software)? 

OWEB will absolutely work with grantees to be as adaptable and flexible as possible. However, all costs must be eligible costs as described in our Budget Category document. Grantees should work with their project managers to discuss individual project timelines, budgets, and deliverables and request extensions and amendments through OWEB's existing procedures.

Can OWEB offer grants, like council and district support grants, specifically targeted for helping grantees set-up staff for teleworking?

We don't know at this time. Any decisions will be considered in light of federal stimulus response as well.

Grantees are experiencing increased costs (telework equipment, additional travel costs if taking multiple vehicles to a project site) and we appreciate OWEB’s flexibility with budget amendments. However, these costs reduce the overall available project funding. Is there a potential to get additional project funding from OWEB to support increased costs?

We don't know at this time. Any decisions will be considered in light of federal stimulus response.

Guidance on Grantee Policies Related to COVID-19

Can OWEB provide guidance on how to pay staff who will need to quarantine, which will preclude their ability to work? Will there be resources to compensate staff who require sick leave beyond what they have accrued?

OWEB does not provide guidance on human resources, management, and payroll issues. We expect guidance to be coming from the federal government on how to track and pay for leave associated with the COVID-19 emergency.

We recommend connecting with the Nonprofit Association of Oregon (NPAO), the Special Districts Association of Oregon (SDAO), and regularly checking the Oregon Occupational Safety and Health website to understand and track state and local guidance.

At this point, a global recession seems likely. How did OWEB navigate the 2008 recession (best practices/lessons learned) and how would they advise grantees to prepare/build resiliency?

This is a difficult time, and we don't know what the future holds. And, the challenging piece is that much of what can be done in terms of best practices are things that need to have been put in place during 'good times'. That said, this is not like 2008. For example, video lottery games are not operational right now. OWEB has been conservative in its grant-making (i.e., not spending all of our reserves). So, in the short term, we intend to continue our grant-making as planned, but will be closely tracking Lottery revenues moving forward, and will keep you updated.

For individual grantees, again, we recommend using resources such as NPAO and SDAO.

How does this impact Lottery revenue and future grant offerings? Will the board consider removing some grant offerings (i.e., Implementation FIPs)?

Lottery revenues are expected to slow given that video lottery machines have been shut off. OWEB has been conservative in its grant-making recently by not spending all of our reserves. So, in the short term, we intend to continue our grant-making as planned, but will be closely tracking Lottery revenues moving forward, and will keep you updated.

Where does restoration work fall into Oregon’s stay-at-home order?

Under Executive Order 20-12, restoration work may continue to occur as long as staff are able to follow social distancing guidelines. Please check the Oregon Occupational Safety and Health website regularly to understand and track state and local guidance.

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