No Time (Keeping) on Their Hands

The National Institutes of Health is taking the “time” out of timekeeping. A business engineering team developed a new automated system called "ITAS" for Integrated Time and Attendance System. ITAS is currently operational in two NIH Institutes that served as pilots and will be deployed agency-wide over the next few months.

Timekeeping by Exception

The user-friendly system does most of the work. It moved NIH toward “timekeeping by exception,” according to Gail Grossman, administrative officer at one of the pilots. “If an employee is here an entire pay period and does not take leave, the system automatically generates the timecard, so the employee and the timekeeper do not need to do anything.”

Responsibility Rests with the Federal Worker

The greatest benefit of the system, Grossman said, is that it “can greatly reduce and possibly eliminate the timekeepers’ responsibilities. The system puts more responsibility on employees, allowing them to view and certify their own timecards prior to final supervisory approval. They can also schedule full-day absences in advance.”

National Science Foundation Had the Model

ITAS is flexible enough to handle the full spectrum of employee work schedules. Linda Jackson, administrative officer at the second pilot, said the system runs on Macs as well as personal computers. A system developed at the National Science Foundation is the model for ITAS. The team selected it as the best after researching automated time and attendance systems at other federal agencies.

The National Performance Review recommended eliminating unnecessary, labor-intensive time and attendance paperwork and using technology for what was left. The General Accounting Office released new policy guidelines on March 25, 1996 that permit agencies to get rid of sign-in sheets. “No excuses anymore,” Vice President Gore told participants at a Reinvention Conference in 1996. “It’s time to change.”

NIH Will Share the New System

Richard Drury, Director of Human Resource Systems at NIH, said “We are open to partnerships with other agencies that want to share in the benefits of this initiative.” Contact him at (301) 496-4368 or

This article appeared in Reinvention Roundtable, Winter 1996-97, Vol 3, No. 2. For more information, contact Pat Wood, (202) 632-0223 or e-mail:

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