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U.S. Geological Survey Manual

U.S. Geological Survey Instructional Memorandum

No. APS 2009-06

Issuance Date: May 21, 2009

Expiration Date:  Retain Until Superseded

Subject:  Activity Based Costing Guidance

Instructions:  Replaces Instructional Memorandum APS 2006-01.

1.  Background.  Activity Based Costing (ABC) codes are a two-digit alphanumeric code assigned at the task level in BASIS+ and ultimately propagated down to the account structure to tie the expenditure of funds to the mission goals and work of the organization.  This guidance explains who should enter the ABC codes, how to enter the ABC codes, and where to find the ABC codes.  For additional information, including a list of all ABC codes, visit the ABC Managerial Cost Accounting Intranet Web Site at:

2.  Who should select the ABC code for each BASIS+ Task?

When a BASIS+ Task is established, each Center Director or Administrative Officer will determine who will be entering the ABC code for their specific cost center.  Most cost centers have established the guideline that the BASIS+ Project Chief or Task Leader (Study Chief, Principle Investigator), in conjunction with the Administrative Officer, will determine the ABC code and enter the code when the BASIS+ Task is established.

ABC codes should reflect the USGS Bureau mission that a BASIS+ Task supports and the major type of work (work activity) that will be performed.  When assigning ABC codes, select one that is associated with the largest component, the more dominant purpose, or the most significant outcome of the BASIS+ Task.  The ABC Intranet Web Site shows the relationship between ABC codes and mission goals under the heading titled "Strategic Goals and associated work activities/ABC codes."  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 8-10 that would be available choices for a single BASIS+ Task based on the USGS mission of the cost center).

If a user is responsible for entering the ABC code and is unable to make a decision concerning what code is the most appropriate code for a 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 Science Coordinator for additional assistance, while the Program Coordinator or Regional Science Coordinator should contact the ABC Coordinator in the Office of Budget and Performance if still unsure of the correct ABC code to select.  It is extremely important to properly code all work (BASIS+ Task) and associated goal because the ABC codes link cost to mission and outputs and are used to justify budget requests to DOI, OMB, and Congress.

For tasks in which multiple cost centers participate, the USGS mission area and discipline of the lead cost center for the project and for the task 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 discipline funding source mission 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, & 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 is 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 to the discipline of the project cost center and all ABC codes that are available to the discipline of the lead task cost center.

 c.  All accounts that are subsequently set up for the task will be assigned the same ABC code as the task.

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

4.  What are the ABC Codes?

ABC codes for Biology, Geology, Geography, Water, GIO, and Science Support are available on the ABC Intranet Web site at: under “USGS Work Activities by Discipline.”


/s/ Karen D. Baker

___________________________________________                            ____5/21/09___________
Karen D. Baker                                                                                    Date
Associate Director for Administrative Policy and Services


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