Have you ever wondered how to set up your indirect rate structure in PROCAS? The good news is, if you’re a new contractor, and you don’t have a rate structure yet, the system already has a default setup that works for most of our clients. It’s a standard 3-tiered structure with (1) fringe, (2) overhead applied to direct labor plus fringe, and (3) G&A.
If you are more experienced, you may want to make changes to your rate structure from one year to the next but don’t know what options to pick in the system. One nice thing about how it works in PROCAS is that it is easy to use our ‘point and click’ setup to make changes and then test the calculation.
There are 2 basic setup elements the system needs to calculate the rates—(1) selections on the Rate Calculation Setup form and (2) the Cost Pool assigned to each expense account in the Chart of Accounts. Generally, your selections determine how many rates you have, what intermediate rate allocations are made, and what makes up the bases for each rate. Every expense account you use is assigned to a cost pool on the Chart of Accounts form. The Cost Pool assigned determines what type of expenses is being accumulated in that account.
Since the default chart of accounts already has appropriate cost pools established for each expense account, I will focus on the options on the Rate Calculation Setup form.
Rate Calculation Setup form – Tab 1:
Establishes defaults used when calculating rates.
Date Range – we recommend selecting Accounting Year since you must calculate your indirect rates for the accounting year-to-date for DCAA compliance. Management may want to see rates by Accounting Period but that should be for internal purposes only.
Costs to include in Pools – we suggest using Allowable Only as your default. This selection will exclude unallowable costs from the pools for calculating your claimed rates. When Allowable & Unallowable is selected, you are calculating your full rates which include all your costs. While you need to know your full rate to make informed business decisions, you cannot claim your full rate for reimbursement from the government.
Transactions to include – using Posted & Unposted transactions as your default will ensure everything recorded in the general ledger is included when you calculate your rates. Choosing Posted Only will ignore any transactions that are not posted within the period and could be misleading.
Rate Calculation Setup form – Tab 2:
Determines how many rates you have for each cost pool.
We always recommend keeping your rate structure as simple as you possibly can, for as long as you can. Using all consolidated rates means you have only one rate per cost pool. However, at some point, you may need to make some changes. This tab gives you the flexibility of establishing rates by division, location, and/or work site, in any combination.
Most often, we see clients moving from a consolidated Overhead rate (pictured above) to Overhead calculated by Site. This allows for more than one overhead rate—typically one for company site and one for client site. Keep in mind, that you will have to track your costs at whatever level you select. Since switching to a 2 Overhead rate structure is common, we start our clients off on day one by tracking direct and overhead expenses by company site (e.g., 100 cost center) and client site (e.g., 105 cost center). This makes the transition to the 2 Overhead rate structure seamless. All you have to do is select the Site checkbox in the Overhead row and you are ready to go.
Rate Calculation Setup form – Tab 3:
Determines whether you have a dollar or hour/unit base for each cost pool.
Most commonly, we see clients using a $ Base for each cost pool. Using a dollar base is simplest. It does not require any additional work on your part. The system will just need the amounts you’ve already recorded in the general ledger.
However, quite frequently we see Facilities with an Hour/Unit Base. In many cases, it makes sense to use square footage or head count as the base for Facilities rather than dollars. Note that if this is your selection, you will also need a Triggers Journal entry dated the first day of your accounting year, so the system knows how many units to use and how to allocate the office-related costs to Overhead and G&A. We have special accounts already established in the default Chart of Accounts to use for this purpose.
Rate Calculation Setup form – Tab 4:
Determines what pool to put your Material Handling and Subcontract Administration costs in.
In PROCAS, you can track your Material Handling (MH) and Subcontract Administration (SA) costs in your general ledger separately by account while keeping the costs in either the Overhead Pool or G&A Pool for rate calculation purposes. Tracking the costs will provide management with valuable cost information and have you set up to easily transition to a Value-Added G&A rate.
The selections in the screenshot above are a great place to start. Keep the material handling and subcontract administration costs in your G&A pool for now. If you ever need it, you can easily change it.
Rate Calculation Setup form – Tab 5:
Determines what makes up your Facilities base and what to include in your Overhead Pool and Base.
There’s a lot more to the options on this screen so let’s tackle them one at a time.
Include Employee Labor in Facilities Base – if selected, productive employee company site labor is your base. If you selected a $ Base on Tab 3, the system will use the total employee labor dollars. If you selected Units/Hours Base, the system will use the total employee labor hours.
Include Contract Labor in Facilities Base – I don’t see this often, but if you have contractors that use your facilities, you can include those labor costs in the base to bear some of the facilities burden. Again, the $ or Units/Hours base selected on Tab 3 is a factor in the calculation.
Include Non Labor Facilities Base in Facilities Base – if selected, you must also have the Units/Hours base selected on Tab 3. This means you are using something like square footage, head count, or some other percentage to allocate the facilities costs to Overhead and G&A. You also must create a Triggers Journal transaction dated the first day of the year to record the unit allocations.
Include Fringe Benefits on Direct Labor in Overhead Pool – if selected, you have a 2-tier rate structure—overhead and G&A. Fringe is an intermediate rate and is not stated separately on invoices to your clients.
Include Facilities Costs Related to Direct Costs in Overhead Pool – if selected, the facilities costs allocated to direct company site labor are allocated in the Overhead Pool. This is the most common selection.
Include Direct Labor in Overhead Base – this option should always be selected. Direct labor is the standard overhead base.
Include Contract Labor in Overhead Base – this option is rare, but if you have contractors that use your company’s contract support resources, you can include those labor costs in the base to bear some of the overhead burden.
Include Fringe Benefits on Direct Labor in Overhead Base – this option should be selected if you have a 3-tier rate as described in the beginning of this article. Fringe is stated separately on invoices to your clients and overhead is applied to direct labor plus the allocated fringe. If this option is not selected, you also have a 3-tier rate. Fringe is stated separately on invoices to your clients, but overhead is only applied to the direct labor costs.
Rate Calculation Setup form – Tab 6:
G&A Base options
As you can see in the screenshot above, there are several selections to choose from for your G&A base.
Total Cost Input Base – this is the most common selection. Select this when all your costs (excluding G&A) are the G&A base. What you get with this option is all your direct costs plus the allocated facilities, fringe and overhead costs as your G&A base.
Value Added – No Materials – if your rate structure includes a separate Material Handling rate (Material Handling Pool option is selected on Tab 4), you must select this option. This will exclude the direct materials from the G&A base. Instead, the direct materials are the base for the MH rate.
Value Added – No Subcontracts – if your rate structure includes a separate Subcontract Administration rate (Subcontract Admin. Pool option is selected on Tab 4), you must select this option. This will exclude direct subcontract costs from the G&A base. Instead, the direct subcontract costs are the base for the SA rate.
Total Direct Cost – I can honestly say that I have never seen a client select this option. That doesn’t mean it’s not right. It’s there if you need it. Only direct costs will be your G&A base. This means that you don’t have a separately stated fringe or overhead rate. Basically, everything ends up in the G&A pool with this option.
Direct Labor Base – I have seen this option selected one time in my career. Again, it could make sense in certain circumstances.
The default chart of accounts is already set up with the appropriate Cost Pools for each expense account. This is how the system knows what type of cost each account contains (direct, fringe, facilities, overhead, G&A, material handling, subcontract administration, etc.). That, along with the selections on the Rate Calculation Setup form, informs the system of where each amount goes in the various pools and bases when the rates are calculated.
I cannot stress enough how important it is for DCAA compliance to be consistent with how you accumulate and allocate your costs. The way you bill the government for reimbursement of your direct and indirect costs must match how your rates are calculated. If you are ever unsure of what selections to make, please reach out to one of our PROCAS consultants for help.