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?
The majority (80%) of your time at 18F will be dedicated to your billable project work. If it’s not explicitly an indirect cost, it’s project work.
To keep projects moving forward as planned in our SOWs, based on the number of full (8-hour) days you work in a given week, you need to spend at least the following number of hours on project work:
|Days in the office for the week||Hour Expectation|
|5 days||At least 32* billable hours
Up to 8 hours non-billable
|4 days||At least 28* billable hours
Up to 4 hours non-billable
|3 days||At least 22* billable hours
Up to 2 hours non-billable
|2 days||At least 16* billable hours
Up to 0 hours non-billable
|1 days||At least 8* billable hours
Up to 0 hours non-billable
*Leads have slightly different expectations set per Chapter. If you are a lead, please discuss with your Chapter head.
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, please review the Overtime and Comp Time guidance in the TTS Handbook and talk to your lead. No matter how many hours you work, it is crucial that you accurately report those hours in Tock and receive compensation for that time. You can request lifting the 40 hour cap in Tock in #tock and provide the TTS Operations staff with the approval of your supervisor for this 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