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Activity Base Costing (ABC)

Reference Documents

Basic Terms—ABC Glossary (MS Word file)

FY 08 USGS Project Types

USGS Work Activities by Discipline (MS Word file)

Support/Indirect Tables and Information (MS Word file)

ABC Work Activity Definition Templates (MS Word file)

ABC Output Definitions (MS Word file)

General Information

ABC Summary




Activity Based Costing/Management (ABC/M)

The Department has a sustained need for cost management information to help our employees and the public that we serve better understand what it costs to deliver quality products and services -- for example, the cost of producing geospatial data or monitoring for volcano and earthquake hazards. Activity Based Cost Management (ABC/M) will help us explain how we serve the public and what they get in return for the money they, as taxpayers, invest in us to provide them with the quality products and services that they reasonably expect. Capturing cost of work will also help USGS better document our basis for cost share projects, assessment, and cost recovery.

The Department mandated implementation of Activity Based Costing/Management by all bureaus for fiscal year 2004 (beginning October 1, 2003). The USGS met this mandate and successfully concluded the first year implementation in FY 2004. To fully and effectively implement ABC by the implementation deadline, USGS made modifications to existing project management processes, T&A, and financial systems as well as developed training tools.

Three week-long DOI workshops were held in August 2002, February 2003, and March 2003, to identify and define work activities across the Department. In 2004, 2005 and again in 2006, a series of meetings were held with the Department, and disciplines and regions within USGS to better define our activities and outputs, to align GPRA and ABC, and to streamline our efforts in FY2007. The activity definitions represent the Department's best attempt to accurately define the Department’s work. There are over 300 Departmental work activities. As a scientific information agency, USGS has six basic types of work we perform. These have been determined by both this ABC/M process and the Bureau's previous strategic change efforts. These six work activities are:

These six activities are replicated for each of the DOI Strategic Plan end outcome goals that USGS supports. The Department is also collecting information on indirect work activities that have been identified and defined by the Department’s Secretarial Offices as critical to capture progress toward achieving the President’s Management Agenda. These are:

Due to the unforeseen disaster of Hurricane Katrina, all bureaus were instructed to capture cost related to the relief/recovery efforts. USGS implemented one cross cutting work activity designated to capture all non-mission related emergency response activities. This activity will capture cost for natural and/or man-made disasters, now and in the future, for which USGS provides disaster relief/recovery efforts, which are not a part of the USGS’s mission. The cost of this work, will not factor into the determination of unit cost for USGS work activities..

In FY2007, under Part 1 of the Administration Federal Power Act, the need arose to capture cost for Federal Emergency Regulatory Commission (FERC) activities under Energy and Mineral Resources Use goals at the department. But due to the fact that these are Water activities and all Water activities for USGS fall under “Understanding National Ecosystems and Resources (RP)”, these costs, for the bureau’s Statement of Net Cost (SNC), will be mapped to Understanding National Ecosystems and Resources (RP).  To capture these cost, USGS implemented 3 work activities:

To accommodate the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, 24 work activities were added.

The six science-based work activities repeated for each end outcome goal that we support, together with the indirect and ARRA activities, results in USGS capturing costs for 68 activities.

The bureaus and departmental offices developed training modules that help employees understand the purpose of ABC and how to code time and support against work activities. In August 2003, DOI introduced all employees to ABC by means of a live, interactive, satellite broadcast in which both DOI and bureau employees participated. USGS followed this broadcast with cyber seminars for project chiefs and cost center chiefs so that they could become more familiar with what ABC means for USGS business, begin the intellectual interface of ABC and BASIS+, and can therefore better help employees as training is expanded to all by means of CDs. The CD training includes DOI officials on the basic rationale for ABC, the USGS Deputy Director on what it means to USGS, and a staff scientist on the implementation of ABC at USGS. The modules allow employees to be trained at their own pace and to skip over the modules that address topics already mastered. The CD training was deployed in September 2003, as close as feasible to implementation of ABC on October 1 ("just in time" training). CDs are still available for those requesting them.

ABC/M Important Links

Related Web Sites

DOI Strategic Plan

Department of the Interior ABC Web Site

Content Information Contacts:

Barbara Newman, USGS, ABC Coordinator

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