Quick reference for 18F staff
18F staff should only enter time in the following categories:
- 18F Non-Billable Work - #968: Time spent working on non-project work for 18F.
- GSA-mandated Non-Billable Work - #969: Time spent on compulsory overhead: HRLinks, mandatory OLU trainings, IDPs, midyear & annual reviews, SF-182s, OGE-450s, seeking training approvals, tech support for GSA-required software, etc.
- 18F Out of Office - #670: Vacation time, federal holidays, or sick time
- 18F Project work - project ID varies: The specific projects you’re working on.
What is Tock, and why do we use it?
We use Tock to track our time.
To facilitate our fee-for-service business model, 18F developed a timekeeping application called Tock. You can access Tock by visiting tock.18f.gov, and we recommend bookmarking it for easy reference.
TTS’s business model is based on billing for time logged to a project. Every expense — salaries, benefits, GSA overhead, MacBooks, all-hands events, and so on — is paid for by our billing, which is recorded by each person in Tock.
We track each and every project in Tock. When you’re assigned to a project, make sure to get clear instructions from your supervisor or project lead on which category to track your time in Tock — we want to make sure we bill the correct client!
You must review and submit your timecard each week. Tock will pre-populate your current project(s)’ hour field with your default availability. Each Friday, choose the correct week for your entries from the list on the homepage, adjust your Tock entry to reflect what you worked that week and then submit your timesheet.
Timecards are due by the end of day (close of business) on Friday. If you fail to submit your timecard on time, your manager will bug you until you get it done! Timecards for the current week should be available no later than Monday at 9AM PST.
Creating Tock projects
There are two kinds of Tock projects, billable and non-billable. Tock projects can only be created by TTS Operations staff. Request the creation of a project in #tock.
Billable projects can only be created after an agreement has been signed. TTS Operations staff will create the project using the following information provided from the Business Unit responsible for the project:
- A title, with the business unit name and client name as the leading part of the title.
- A 2-3 sentence description of the project.
- The name of the project manager for the project.
Time tracking and billing
What activities do I record billable hours for?
Exception to some of the items described: only those staffed to cloud.gov and login.gov may bill time to those projects.
You must bill for the below activities because these are direct costs. This means they are directly bringing value to the partner agency you are working for. We have a legal obligation to bill for them. They include:
- Work that enables project delivery, such as:
- Any activity that develops skills or knowledge used in project work
- Examples: guild meetings, guild work, working groups, project related skill development like reading, studying, googling, or fixing an issue on your project - basically if it applies to your project’s work you should bill it
- 1:1 with supervisor/facilitator (both individual and supervisor/facilitator should bill to the project)
- Critique groups (bill to whatever project was discussed)
- When coordinating staffing for projects with a signed IAA, bill to the project you’re staffing
- Any activity that develops skills or knowledge used in project work
- Project delivery work, such as:
- Discipline specific work for a project, i.e. Engineering, Design, Product, or Strategy work
- Project team meetings (stand-ups, grooming, planning, retro, and anything else!)
- 1:1 with project team members
- Client meetings
- Travel to client meetings, as well as time spent arranging and getting reimbursement
- Time reading Slack channels about the project
- Time reading emails about a project
- Time thinking/brainstorming about project work, even if not in front of your computer
- Time talking about your project at team meetings, or publicly
- Time writing about your project on the blog
- Time onboarding to a project, which includes reading documentation and learning about the agency
- Time offboarding from a project. This includes post-mortems, writing documentation, and organizing your working files so that other people could pick it up later and continue your work
- Business development and IAA work (for continuing projects only)
You must not bill for the following activities because these are indirect costs and are not inherently valuable to any one single partner. As a result, we distribute the costs for these amongst all our partners via our hourly rate. Recording these as billable would mean we’re billing for them twice.
- Out of office (Award leave, sick leave, PTO)
- Conferences and trainings that come out of your chapter’s training budget
- OLU trainings that are not in service of project work
- Internal organization meetings (All hands, AMAs, Team Coffee, TTS Town Hall)
- Business development for new projects (on non-live projects). Developing continuation work plan is okay to bill)
- Hiring activities, including interviews, resume reviews, stand-ups
- Performance reviews
- New hire onboarding
How many hours am I expected to bill per week?
If you’re an individual contributor or a lead, you’re expected to spend at least 80% of your time on billable project work. (Directors and supervisors have different billability expectations.)
That leaves up to 20% of your time to be spent on non-billable work. There are two types of non-billable work, both of which are used to manage the running of 18F itself: GSA-mandated non-billable work and 18F non-billable work.
GSA-mandated non-billable work includes time spent in HRLinks, mandatory OLU trainings, IDPs, SF-182s, annual reviews, and so forth. These are the things we don’t have a choice but to spend time on.
18F non-billable work includes time spent in guilds and working groups, team coffees, chapter meetings, approved internal projects, business development, conference attendance, and anything that contributes to the running of 18F as an organization.
Not sure whether work you’re doing is billable? If it’s not explicitly an indirect cost, it’s project work.
So for most people in a given 40-hour week, the expectation is to bill at least 32 hours to project work. But what about holidays or leave time? Then you’ll need to spend 80% of the time you’re working that week on billable work. Here’s what that looks like if you’re out of the office for a few days:
|Work week||Billable time (minimum hours expected)||Non-billable time (not to exceed)|
|5 days||32 hours (80% of 40 hours)||8 hours|
|4 days||26 hours (80% of 32 hours)||6 hours|
|3 days||19.5 hours (80% of 32 hours)||4.5 hours|
|2 days||13 hours (80% of 16 hours)||3 hours|
|1 days||6.5 hours (80% of 8 hours)||1.5 hours|
What if I don’t have enough work to bill to the hour expectation laid out above?
First, double check that you’re billing for all the activities listed above. Make sure to also check with your project lead.
If you still find that you don’t have enough work to bill to the hour expectation laid out above, we want to know about it! Help us get to the bottom of this with you (and prevent this from happening in the future) by reaching out to both your supervisor and the Account Manager on your project, and also copying the 18F Staffing Director outlining where things are at.
What if I work more than 32 billable hours in a normal five-day work week? More than 40?
Working more than 32 billable hours is just fine! 32 is the minimum. However, we can’t work more than 40 total hours without being compensated for that time. If you find yourself needing to work more than 40 hours, here are the steps to take:
- Before you work those extra hours, please review the Overtime and Comp Time guidance in the TTS Handbook and talk to your lead to figure out if and how much over 40 you can work
- Get your supervisor’s approval in writing
- Email approval to Leah Gitter, who will adjust Tock setting to allow for 40+ hours to be recorded
- Tell your project’s AM too so they can adjust the project’s financial accounting
- Work your week!
- Log total hours in Tock
- Log total hours in HrLinks. This is where your comp time will be recorded and from where you’ll use it for future leave
No matter how many hours you work, it is crucial that you accurately report those hours in Tock and receive compensation for that time. Knowing the actual amount of time you work helps us better scope and estimate costs and rates.
I worry about my project going over budget, so some weeks I reduce the number of hours I bill to make sure that we don’t burn too fast. Is this okay?
While we appreciate that you’re trying to protect the budget, there is no need for you to do this — and it’s actually damaging to projects. Please don’t “save” hours or avoid billing for time you’ve actually worked. In addition to hurting our capacity to improve our project scoping assumptions, it is illegal not to bill for time actually spent working for clients. We’ve done several things to make sure we don’t go over budget:
- When creating new project budgets, we now include enough funds to allow for full capacity for each person for the duration of the project.
- We build in a risk reserve to each project to ensure we have extra hours for needs that arise during the project.
- For CPS projects, CPS closely monitors the burns on a weekly basis and communicates that to Project Leads and Product Managers.
In short, we need to know if our scoping is accurate. We’d rather be over budget and have our teams delivering value than be under budget and hiding how many hours it truly takes to deliver on our engagements.
Why is my list of “Reporting Periods You Need to Fill Out” really long?
Tock likely doesn’t have your start date listed correctly. To fix this:
- Click on the Users link.
- Find and click on your name in the list of Tock users. (Your email address should be a clickable link.)
- Enter your Employment Start Date as the day you started at TTS.
- Click Update.
- Now that long list of reports to fill out should be gone.
How do I change a reporting period I already filled out?
What if I’m so busy that I cannot fit everything I need to do within 40 hours per week?
You should immediately contact your supervisor. They will be able to provide you guidance on managing your workload and may be able to help you obtain additional compensation (typically in the form of leave) if you are working extra hours.
When does the weekly reporting begin and end?
The weekly time reporting period lasts one week, beginning on Sunday and ending on Saturday.
What is the deadline for submitting my weekly timesheet?
Each Friday by close of business (COB), local time, at the end of the weekly reporting period. For example, if the weekly periods ends on Saturday, June 26, then complete your timesheet by COB on Friday, June 25. If Friday is a holiday, then you’ll be expected to complete your timecard by the first workday following.
How should I bill travel?
The time you spend figuring out travel plans is billable to the project you are traveling for. Travel time for projects that is approved by the partner agency should be billed to the client.
How do I request paid time off (e.g., annual leave, sick leave, comp time)?
See Leave page.
Still have questions?
Ask in Slack: #tock