USGS - science for a changing world

U.S. Geological Survey Manual

U.S. Geological Survey Instructional Memorandum

No. AEI 2011-05

September 6, 2011

Expiration Date:  Retain Until Superseded

Subject:  Activity Based Costing Guidance

Instructions:  Replaces Instructional Memorandum APS 2009-06.

Purpose.  This guidance establishes a framework for implementation of Activity Based Costing (ABC) and explains where to find information about the ABC codes, who should enter the ABC codes, and how to enter the ABC codes. 

  1. Background.  

ABC codes are two-digit alphanumeric codes assigned at the task level in BASIS+ and ultimately propagate down to the account structure and work of the organization. The ABC codes for the mission areas Biology, Geology, Geography, Water, Geospatial Information Office, and Science Support are available on the ABC Intranet Web site at: under “USGS Work Activities by Mission Area.” Once we are under the new budget structure, we will change the instruction on the Web from disciplines to mission areas: Ecosystems, Climate and Land Use Change, Energy, Minerals, and Environmental Health, Natural Hazards, Water Resources, Core Science Systems, Administration and Enterprise Information, and Facilities

The USGS budget process currently uses five-digit program element codes to identify work efforts corresponding to congressional budget line items. ABC codes are two-digit codes used to tie the work efforts to the mission goals.  In FBMS, work efforts and mission goals are captured via a 15-digit data element called the Functional Area (e.g., G40000000.380000, where 40000 is the program element and 38 is the ABC code). Guidance on how to select an FBMS functional area can be found at Financial Operating Procedures [FOP] Handbook, Chapter 9.

Each account number assigned to a BASIS+ task will be represented in FBMS by a 15-digit data element called the Work Breakdown Structure (WBS) (e.g., GV.10.PC01.94620.00).  Each WBS will be aligned with an appropriate functional area to accurately record the work effort and mission goals information.  Guidance on establishing FBMS WBS elements (account numbers) can be found at Financial Operating Procedures [FOP] Handbook, Chapter 10.

2.  Who should select the ABC code for each FBMS Work Breakdown Structure (BASIS+ Task)?

When an FBMS WBS is established, each Science Center Director or Administrative Officer will determine how the project or WBS (BASIS+ task) will be funded and what work effects will be needed to accomplish the project or WBS and who will be entering that information for their specific cost center.  Most cost centers have established the guideline that the Project Chief or Task Leader (Study Chief, Principle Investigator), in conjunction with the Administrative Officer, will determine the program element and ABC code (now functional area) and enter the code when the WBS is established.

ABC codes should reflect the USGS mission area that a project (WBS) supports and the major type of work activity that will be performed.  When assigning ABC codes (functional areas), select one that is associated with the largest component, the more dominant purpose, or the most significant outcome of the project or (WBS or BASIS+ task).  The ABC Intranet Web site at shows the relationship between ABC codes and mission area goals under the heading titled “USGS Work Activities by Mission Area”  Under most circumstances, a user will only have access to a select number of the codes that are associated with the USGS mission through which the science center is funded and supports.  There are approximately 75 ABC codes, but only 8 to10 that would be available choices for a single project or WBS based on the USGS mission of the cost center.  During fiscal year 2012, Administration and Enterprise Information staff and the Office of Budget, Planning, and Integration will work with mission area staff to reduce the number of ABC codes.  The reduced number of codes will be implemented in fiscal year 2013.

If a user is responsible for entering the ABC code and is unable to make a decision concerning what code is the most appropriate for a project (WBS or BASIS+ task), the user should contact the Science Center Director or Cost Center Manager for assistance.  Science Center Directors and Cost Center Managers may contact the Program Coordinator or the Regional Executive Science Coordinator for additional assistance, while the Program Coordinator or Regional Executive Science Coordinator should contact the ABC Coordinator in the Office of Budget, Planning, and Integration if still unsure of the correct ABC code to select.  It is extremely important to properly code all project or WBS work because the ABC codes link cost to mission and outputs and are used to justify budget requests to Interior, Office of Management and Budget, and Congress.

For tasks in which multiple cost centers participate, the USGS mission area and program funding the work will determine the available ABC codes.

3.  How to set ABC Codes at the Task Level within BASIS+.

When establishing the BASIS+ task or updating a continuing task, select the most appropriate code (based on the mission area’s funding source, project type, mission to goal association, and the work activity) that this BASIS+ task addresses.  After all the required fields are entered, the user must save the information before the BASIS+ task will be available for adding budget and other text information.  Information on how to select the best ABC code for each work effort is also available on the USGS Intranet Web site under the heading "Assigning ABC codes to Tasks - Key Definitions, Guidance, and References."  Also, yearly implementation instructions for entering ABC codes within BASIS+ are available on the ABC Web site under the heading "Instructions: Implementing ABC codes for FYxx" (where “xx” represents the year).

It is important to note that the ABC code and the assignment of a lead task cost center are entered on the New/Update Task screen.  You must enter the cost center code of the cost center that has the lead responsibility for the task.  Tasks may still be performed at multiple cost centers.

For new tasks (in new or continuing projects):

a.  On the New Task screen, enter the cost center code for the lead task cost center.

b.  Click on the values list for the ABC code and select the applicable ABC code that matches the type of work and output (products) created by the task.  The values list will contain all ABC codes that are available by mission area for the project type selected.

 c.  All functional areas (formerly accounts) that are subsequently set up for the task will be assigned the same ABC code as the task.

For new and continuing subtasks:

a.  A field to assign a lead subtask cost center has been added to the New/Update SubTask screen.  It will function the same as the cost center field on the New/Update Task screen.

b.  The ABC code is not on the SubTask screen (it is set at main tasks, only).

  1. Where do I find more information about ABC codes?

For additional information, including a list of all ABC codes, visit the ABC Cost Accounting Intranet Web site at:

/s/ Karen D. Baker                                                                              September 6, 2011

___________________________________________                      _______________
Karen D. Baker                                                                                            Date
Associate Director for Administration and Enterprise Information


Return to Instructional Memoranda Page

Return to Survey Manual Home Page

Accessibility FOIA Privacy Policies and Notices

Take Pride in America logo logo U.S. Department of the Interior | U.S. Geological Survey
Page Contact Information: OA, Office of Policy and Analysis
Last modification: 21-Aug-2017@15:11