Tag Archives: DCAA Compliance

What is Referential Integrity in TimeControl?

We often talk about the auditability of TimeControl’s data but how is that accomplished behind the scenes.

Imagine this scenario.  We have an employee fill out a timesheet.  We save that timesheet.  It will be no surprise that the timesheet line and header tables have relationships with the employee table, and the charge table.  But then next week, the employee changes departments.  He is no longer in the technical department.  Now he is in the sales department where timesheet rules are different.  Plus he changed salary in the move.  He’s no longer paid the same as he was.  Plus, the charge codes he used have had changes too. They have different start and finish dates.

If I go to look at this person’s timesheet for last week, will it show the updated employee and charge code information?  It won’t.  The TimeControl design was created so that a timesheet can always be recreated as it was originally entered.  That means we have to freeze the employee and charge code data and save anything else relevant to the timesheet at the time.  In TimeControl, we do this at the time of posting.  That allows us to comply with stringent auditing requirements such as the Defense Contract Audit Agency but it also allows us to follow some common sense accounting.

If we did a costing report on the employee I just talked about, we’d reasonably expect that his cost to the company per week would be one value until the department and salary change and then a different value after that.  Also, costs to the tasks that person worked on would be at the original salary value until the department and salary change.  That would just make sense.  That, however, is not how many project-based timesheets work.

So, how do we do it?

Using referential Integrity.

It’s no surprise that TimeControl is based on a relational database.  Products like MySQL, Oracle and Microsoft SQL Server are all relational in nature.  But that’s not enough.  From the earliest versions of TimeControl we’ve embraced the concept of relating different records into specific records in different tables.  Here is how that works.

When a record is changed in a key table in TimeControl like the Employee Table or the Charge table, TimeControl saves the original record as a historical record and makes the newly changed record the current record.  All ties from, say, a timesheet line to a charge code line stays with the original record.

That’s huge.

So, the newly updated record is what you would see in the Charge Table or the Employee Table but you can look also at the historic records that are related to that entry from all the times the record has changed in the past.

The TimeControl Employee Table is called “Employee”.  The TimeControl Employee History Table is called EMP_HIS.  The TimeControl Charge Table is called CHARGE.  The TimeControl Charge History Table is called “CHR_HIS.

When creating reports or exports, it’s important to keep in mind that these tables are distinct and display distinct values.  Choosing the Employee Table will show only the information for that employee record that is from the current entry.  Choosing the Employee History Table will show all the associated entries for that Employee over time.

We never delete historic records.

If you look at a timesheet from a year ago, the employee for that timesheet might not even be in the company anymore.  But the employee record associated to each timesheet will be.

Referential Integrity is part of what keeps TimeControl simple on the outside but robust and flexible on the inside.

TimeControl DCAA Solutions area updated

Every year the US Defense Contract Audit Agency audits thousands of contracts with the US government.  If you have ever been part of such an audit you will know that the DCAA places a particular emphasis on verifying timesheets associated to workers working on projects that they oversee.  It is not enough to have a good time and attendance record.  The DCAA must validate that hours billed to government contracts were spent on those projects and not on other work.  A complete task-based timesheet is required that encompasses all work.

In 2017, the DCAA audited over $281 billion in defense contract costs.  The DCAA is not restricted to defense contracts alone.  Their standards and audits are also used by NASA, the DoE, Homeland security and other agencies.

While the DCAA deliberately does not endorse or certify software products, and instead focuses on an auditable process, the standards they require are well known.

TimeControl has included DCAA compliant functionality for many years and has been selected by clients on numerous occasions to be used for DCAA audit compliance.

HMS maintains a resource portal with a number of useful tools and links to aid in becoming DCAA compliant when using TimeControl.  The portal is free and is located at: dcaa.timecontrol.com.

FAQ: How do I make corrections in a closed timesheet?

If I need to make a correction in an already closed timesheet, can I do so? And, if so, can I see what was changed?

Yes. This has been a part of TimeControl since version 1.0 and it is something that HMS has spent a lot of time on. The function allows you to both remove hours and add hours as you adjust and you can force those changes to balance so we’ve called the function Debit/Credit just as you would in an accounting system. The Debit/Credit function occurs only once the main organizational approval has completed. You can identify every line that has been adjusted and as it must comply with the Defense Contractor Audit Agency, TimeControl must be able to re-create a timesheet as it was first entered at the time by the employee and for each change that occurs. Using the optional balanced Debit/Credit, you can ensure that any adjustments to the timesheet result in the same total that was approved by the supervisor. This allows project managers to redistribute hours from one task to another or even one project to another but not to affect the timesheet totals that may have already been sent to payroll and HR.

Debit/Credit is one of the functions that makes TimeControl completely auditable. For more information about Debit/Credit and how it is used in the Matrix Approval Process, see www.timecontrol.com/use-cases/matrix-approvals.

In the historical timesheet, TimeControl optionally shows the source user of each line and, in the background, we can see the time-date stamp for when the line was saved and posted. When you look at adjustments you can instantly see any reversed lines and their corresponding adjusting lines.

FAQ: Is your timesheet DCAA certified?

dcaa_300x103For those wondering, DCAA stands for the US “Defense Contract Audit Agency”. The DCAA has set a number of standards for contracts paid for by the US government which include standards for timesheets. These criteria are used not only by the US Defense Department but also by Homeland Security, NASA, the Department of Energy and other public sector organizations who find the criteria to contain good business practices.

However, the DCAA is very clear that it does not endorse or “certify” any product. It has a required process and a range of required criteria which some timesheet products might be able to fulfill and others not.

TimeControl does fulfill the DCAA standards and we keep up to date on the criteria when they are changed. You can find more on this on the TimeControl site in the DCAA Use-Case solutions portal.