A Way To Assure DCAA Compliant Timekeeping

This is a message we would normally reserve for April 1 (April Fools Day) if not for the fact that it is real.

An ad firm, frustrated with the low level of compliance among employees for filling out their timesheets, offered a free glass of beer once timesheets are complete. They somehow rigged up a beer dispenser to the electronic timekeeping system that allows the compliant employee to swipe their badge and dispense one beer.

Having served as the “Timekeeping Cop” for a small business, and helping clients understand the rigors of a DCAA complaint timekeeping system, this hits close to home.

Motivating business owners and their employees to fill out timesheets on a daily basis (per DCAA guidance) can be quite a cultural challenge. Tracking time spent on a project might make some sense for billing purposes, but tracking non-project time is a bit counter-intuitive for most just starting out. The rigorous timekeeping requirements of government contracting seek to mitigate two main risks. First, filling out timesheets less frequently than daily means there’s a risk you might not remember exactly what time you spent on what project. Second, logging in all time worked, especially on cost-type contracts or those paid on an hourly basis, insures costs are accurately billed.

Given that the government considers labor its largest contractor cost and harder to determine than, say, an invoice for a widget, it considers timekeeping an essential method for avoiding fraud, waste ,and abuse of tax dollars.

Government contractors might feel a little picked on, but other professions like accounting, law, and advertising – almost any professional services firm – relies on accurate timekeeping for billing and properly managing resources. They just might not have to do it every day.

While earning a beer every day for filling out your timesheet might not be the best idea, other creative ideas could be just as effective. Yet it’s also useful to understand that you are not at a competitive disadvantage for doing it right – everyone having a complaint accounting system must follow DCAA timekeeping guidance. You are at a competitive risk for doing it wrong. That should be all the motivation you need if you want to succeed in what can be the lucrative government contracting environment.