Home
Important Documents
FY12 Activity Dictionary (PDF - 1066 KB)
ABC Coding Templates
T&A Worksheet
FWS Operational Plan
Directorate Rules for ABC
FY05 - FY10 Subactivity Codes & Programs
FY05 - FY06 Crosswalk
FWS to DOI Crosswalk
FY06 - FY08 Included / Excluded Costs
How to Correct ABC Errors in FFS
DOI Strategic Plan
How to Compare Cognos to Brio (Word - 1.2 MB)
Management Tools
Manager Analysis Workbook
What-if Scenarios for Resource Planning

 

ABC Coding FAQs

  1. How is time and attendance affected by ABC?
  2. How was the Activity Dictionary created?
  3. What are the responsibilities of employees, timekeepers, and certifiers of time and attendance with respect to ABC?
  4. How should time and attendance sheets be processed?
  5. Where do I find the activity codes?
  6. Are the activity codes part of the cost structure?
  7. A lot of activities seem related to what I do. Which activities and how many activities should I use?
  8. I completed a work assignment, but am unsure what activity code to use to charge my work. What should I do?
  9. To what activity code do I charge the following items - absence, leave without pay or absence without leave (AWOL), credit hours earned and used and comp time earned and used, holiday?
  10. How do I code utility bills, credit card transactions, and other non-labor activities?
  11. How do I make a correction to a charge to a certain activity code for a prior pay period?
  12. Do ABC codes and budget subactivity codes align?
  13. When selecting ABC work activities should I code to actual work, end outcome, or a combination of both?
  14. Approximately how much time should I spend selecting ABC codes and completing my T&A each pay period?
  15. Why are there so many ABC codes?
  16. Why is it important to FWS that I select the proper ABC codes?
  17. I'd like to see a report of how I coded my hours for a particular time period. Is there any way for me to do this?
  18. Is there official National FWS guidance on ABC coding?
  19. What is the process for updating/changing the ABC Activity Dictionary?
  20. Who is allowed to code time to the Process 6 ABC codes for Management and Administrative Functions?
  21. How are supervisors supposed to code their time?
  22. Why do we have so many codes for ESA consultations, Fire activities, and maintenance activities?
  23. Why don't we have an ABC code for general meetings?

1. How is time and attendance affected by ABC?

Employees code their time to specific activity codes during each pay period. They must code the time they work to an activity code, and timekeepers and supervisors will have to ensure that employees have completed the coding.

Back to top

2. How was the Activity Dictionary created?

In January 2003 the Service's ABC implementation began as a pilot in Region 1 and Region 3 where the ABC implementation Team (consisting of Grant Thornton and the Planning and Evaluation Staff) met with representatives from every program, and Admin organization to identify activities and tasks for the development of the ABC model. Each area was asked to identify the activities they performed and provide a definition of those activities. A decision was made early in the process to develop the ABC model for enterprise reporting. The point of this exercise was to gain visibility into the full costs of operations. For the implementation team, this meant taking the each functional set of activities and organizing them into cross-functional buckets that identified how the service achieved its mission and; identifying the work involved in sustaining the organization. The result was a list of processes, sub-processes and activities that identified an enterprise view of the Fish & Wildlife Service. Following the initial pilot with Region 1 and 3, the implementation team visited all remaining regions; meeting with every program and admin area, over the remainder of the year. Using an automated tool called Facilitate.com, each program area was provided an opportunity to comment on the set of activities and definitions that would ultimately be included in the dictionary. The first ABC Dictionary was completed in December 2003 and distributed to the entire service in January 2004, when we began tracking costs by ABC activities. Since then, the dictionary is reviewed, revised and updated annually by the Deputies Group with input from the Washington and Regional program offices and Admin ARDs across the service. This process occurs in the spring and summer of each year, in preparation for the next fiscal year.  The Deputies Group froze charges to the ABC Dictionary for FY 2007 through FY 2009.

Back to top

3. What are the responsibilities of employees, timekeepers, and certifiers of time and attendance with respect to ABC?

Employees, timekeepers, and certifiers of time and attendance all have a unique role with respect to time and attendance and ABC. The table below illustrates all of these responsibilities.

Role

Responsibilities

Employees

  • Keeping track of the time you spend on the various activities throughout your workday
  • Posting your time to the correct activity code on your time and attendance sheet

Timekeepers

  • Ensure that your employees have posted the time they have worked to a work activity and correctly inputting that into Quicktime
  • Validate and Group Validate T&As

Certifers of Time and Attendance

  • Ensure that all of your employees have correctly identified the activities to which they are charging their time
  • Certify time and attendance reports

Back to top

4. How should time and attendance sheets be processed?

Quicktime is the official Service time and attendance (T&A) system. Most employees enter their own data into Quicktime. The employee completes the Quicktime form on-line, entering the number of hours he/she has worked, and posting those hours to the correct activity code. The employee validates the time sheet.

The timekeeper ensures that all hours worked are coded; that all leave or other type of absence is properly annotated and coded; and that all time entries recorded on the sheet are assigned the appropriate payroll code. After reviewing the time and attendance sheet, the timekeeper validates the T&A data.

The certifier will review the time sheet to verify the accuracy of the time worked and any absences coded as well as the activity codes to which the time has been coded. After that review, the certifier will electronically certify the time sheet and certify the time and attendance in Quicktime.

Back to top

5. Where do I find the activity codes?

All of the activity codes are listed and described in detail in the FWS FY09 Activity Dictionary available online here

Back to top

6. Are the activity codes part of the cost structure?

Yes, the activity codes are the last four digits of the cost structure. However, specific ABC codes are not directly tied to specific cost codes. You must be sure to enter the entire cost structure, including the org code, in FPPS as shown below. If you do not have a project #, you must insert 4 zeros in the appropriate place as shown below. The cost structure must be inputted into FPPS as follows: XXXX (subactivity) - XXXXX (project #) - XXXX (org code) - XXXX (activity code)

Back to top

7. A lot of activities seem related to what I do. Which activities and how many activities should I use?

When an employee's work is described by one ABC activity and the end goal is described by another ABC activity, the employee should code to the activity that most accurately describes the immediate work performed, and not the goal.

When an employee's work appears to be appropriately described by several ABC activities, the employee should code to the activity that most accurately describes the work performed.

The Service should not direct employees to select only a certain number of activities. However, if the number of activities selected is becoming burdensome (not including coding for leave taken), the employee should determine if a fewer number would be as accurate without being burdensome to the employee and timekeeper. For example, the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) has suggested that their employees should not code to activities in increments of less than two hours cumulative during a pay period. Generally for the BLM, this has translated to most employees coding to no more than 7 to 10 different activities in a pay period (not considering complexities related to using multiple budget activities or accounts). The Service also recommends that employees split their days into quarters and determine the appropriate code for each quarter of the workday.

Back to top

8. I completed a work assignment, but am unsure what activity code to use to charge my work. What should I do?

When you complete a work assignment and are unsure what activity code to use you have several options. You can consult a co-worker or your manager to find out the correct activity code to use. If they are unable to provide you with this information, you should consult the FWS FY09 Activity Dictionary available here. The Activity Dictionary provides guidance on selecting activity codes as well as detailed descriptions of the work activities associated with each code. If you are still unable to determine which code to select, you can contact us using the E-mail Support or Telephone Support Options available from the Online Help Desk.

Back to top

9. To what activity code do I code the following items - absence, leave without pay or absence without leave (AWOL), credit hours earned and used and comp time earned and used, holiday?

Item

What to code?

Absence

  • Charges to annual leave, sick leave, court leave, military, excused absence (administrative leave) should be made to the codes that employees use during a typical workday or work week. It is important to code these items because they represent a cost, just like other benefits (e.g., insurance, retirement, etc.). However, the Service is investigating other options to collect the leave hours and then spread the time proportionally to the ABC codes used by the employee.

Leave without pay, Absence without leave (AWOL)

  • Time for these items is not required to be coded to an activity because there is no cost involved in the time.  Quicktime, however, requires a code.

Credit hours earned and used and comp time earned and used

  • Credit hours earned and comp time earned are not a cost until they are used. Employees should code those hours when they are used, not when they are earned. Similar to annual or sick leave, employees should code these entries to the activities that make up their typical workday or work week.

Holiday

  • Holiday time is coded to the activity code it would have been coded to had you been at work. Use the code or codes you use most often.

Back to top

10. How do I code utility bills, credit card transactions, and other non-labor activities?

Non-labor codes are used for many items such as credit card transactions, space rental, contracts, Operational, maintenance, and repairs, building supplies, office supplies, fuel, travel, and many other items. In general, these items should be coded to the work activity they are supporting or required for.

Back to top

11. How do I make a correction to a charge to a certain activity code for a prior pay period?

Changes to activity codes cannot be made through the payroll system. They must be made through the Federal Financial System (FFS) via RDS. You should contact your FFS point of contact for information on how to make this type of a change. Guidance on correcting errors is available here.

Back to top

12. Do ABC codes and budget subactivity codes align?

Budget subactivity codes and ABC codes are not directly related. A common misconception is that certain ABC codes align to specific budget subactivity codes. In reality, budget subactivity codes are associated with Congressional budget appropriations as money is allocated to specific subactivity codes. ABC codes are selected by employees each pay period based on the work being completed, not where the funding is coming from, and are used to understand how work is completed at FWS. ABC codes are intentionally cross-functional and cross-program and are not the same as budget. All costs will be charged against the proper budget account regardless of what ABC code is chosen.

Back to top

13. When selecting work activities should I code to actual work, end outcome, or a combination of both?

When selecting work activities you should always code to actual work, not the end outcome. This provides a more accurate picture of the activities that each employee in the Services is completing. These costs are then mapped to the Service's Operational Plan goals to get the costs to performance, i.e., to the end outcome.

Back to top

14. Approximately how much time should I spend selecting ABC codes and completing my T&A each pay period

There is not a precise amount of time that you should spend selecting ABC codes on your T&A each pay period. In general, this should not be a grueling, time-consuming process. The majority of employees at FWS spend 10 minutes or less completing their T&A each pay period. While this is a small amount of time, it is very important that you select accurate ABC codes. There are a number of best practices that you can follow to accurately complete your T&A in a minimal amount of time. First, compile a list of the most common ABC codes that you use each pay period. Most employees find that they use no more than 8 - 10 ABC codes each pay period. To compile this list, review the Activity Dictionary, or speak with your manager or co-workers. Second, when completing your T&A, divide your workday into quarters, selecting the most appropriate ABC code for each quarter of the day. You may select the same code for all four quarters. This technique minimizes the amount of codes you need to select. You should avoid dividing your time into smaller blocks as this will greatly increase the complexity and your frustration.

Back to top

15. Why are there so many ABC codes?

There are currently 178 distinct ABC codes in our system. While at first this may appear to be a large number of codes, it is not in relation to the ABC systems of the other Bureaus. FWS has the fewest number of ABC codes of any Bureau in the Department. In formulating the list of ABC codes, the ABC team strove to balance our responsibility to report accurately to the Department with the need to minimize the complexity of the system for Service employees. Most employees should only deal with a small portion of the 178 ABC codes. It is recommended that the typical employee use no more than 8 - 10 ABC codes each pay period, and many employees use fewer than this.

Back to top

16. Why is it important to FWS that I select the proper ABC codes?

Selecting proper ABC codes is an extremely important exercise. The integrity of the ABC data is contingent on FWS employees accurately representing how they spend their time. Therefore, it is the responsibility of each employee to code their time accurately and seek guidance if they are confused or have questions.

Back to top

17. I'd like to see a report of how I coded my hours for a particular time period. Is there any way for me to do this?

It may be helpful to employees to see how they code their time for a particular quarter or series of quarters. To do this, employees should contact one of the ABC contacts in their region and request the desired report. A listing of all ABC contacts throughout the Service is on the Cost and Performance Management Portal located here.  This guidance is still valid, even though it says "for 2006". 

Back to top

18. Is there official National FWS guidance on ABC coding?

Yes, the official National FWS guidance on ABC coding is contained in the FWS FY 2006 Activity Dictionary in the section labeled 'Activity Based Costing Guidance to Employees for FY 2006'. It is also available in a standalone document here.

Back to top

19. What is the process for updating/changing the ABC Activity Dictionary?

The ABC Activity Dictionary is updated on an annual basis using a process developed by the Deputies Team. During the second quarter of the fiscal year, the ABC team sends out a data call to Regional and Program ADs/DADs throughout the Service asking for proposed changes to the ABC Activity Dictionary. These changes are submitted and reviewed by the ABC team and vetted with the FWS Deputies group during one of their quarterly meetings. The Deputies make all final decisions with the assistance of the ABC team. The ABC Activity Dictionary is then updated to reflect these changes. The dictionary is updated in the fourth quarter of the fiscal year and released before the start of the new fiscal year.

Back to top

20. Who is allowed to code time to the Process 6 ABC codes for Management and Administrative Functions?

All employees are allowed to code time to the Process 6 ABC codes for Management and Administrative Functions assuming that they complete the work described by one of the ABC activities.

Back to top

21. How are supervisors supposed to code their time?

Except for employee evaluation and counseling, most supervision should be coded to the actual work activity being supervised.

Back to top

22. Why do we have so many codes for ESA consultations, Fire activities, and maintenance activities?

We have a large number of codes for ESA consultations, Fire Activities, and Maintenance activities because most of these codes are required by the Department. ABC codes exist because either the Service and/or the Department want to know the costs for certain activities. In some programs, the desire for more detail results in more ABC codes, in other programs, management is content with fewer codes.

Back to top

23. Why don't we have an ABC code for general meetings?

We do not have a code for general meetings because meetings are a cost of doing our other work. During any meeting, you are there in order to directly or indirectly accomplish your assigned work. Therefore, choose the appropriate ABC code corresponding to that work. Code time spent at non-program specific meetings to the codes you use most often since that will give an estimate of the total costs of your time. The Deputies Team decided that having costs captured specifically for general meetings was not something that the Service needed to know.

Back to top

 

U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Home Page | Department of the Interior | USA.gov |
About the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service | Accessibility | Privacy | Notices |
Disclamer | FOIA | Site Map | Information Quality

Last Modified: 9/26/2008