Cost Accounting for Government Contractors

On-Demand Self Study CPE Training

Recommended CPE:
12 hours
Field of Study:
Program Level:
Advanced Preparation:
Delivery Method:
QAS Self Study
Online Learning Management System
What's Included:
When you enroll today, you'll receive:
  • Instant Access to the Cost Accounting for Government Contractors Course
  • 31 On-Demand Video Lessons
  • Review Questions & Activities for Each Lesson
  • Source References & Sample Data
  • 200-page Course Companion eBook
  • 180 Days to Complete the Course
  • 24/7 Browser & Mobile App Access to Course Materials
  • Two Attempts to Pass the Qualified Assessment (Final Exam)
Upon successful completion of the course and exam, you will receive:
  • 12 hours CPE
  • A Printable & Shareable CPE Certificate

Government Contractors face unique regulatory compliance challenges. To convey confidence and minimize risk of non-compliance, you and your team must have practical knowledge of relevant Federal Regulations and accounting methods.

This course examines the cost accounting environment within which Government Contractors must comply, report, and operate. You'll gain an understanding of FAR and DFARS requirements, and specialized skills and expertise with respect to:

How to set up a DCAA-compliant Accounting System

How to establish Provisional Billing Rates

What is required for an adequate Final Indirect Cost Rate Proposal

These three core elements of Federal Government contract cost accounting are driven by the Government's interest in administering due diligence over the acquisition pricing of goods and services. For each, this course will:

  • Identify what is required in the Federal Acquisition Regulation (FAR), the Defense Federal Acquisition Regulation Supplement (DFARS), DCAA (Defense Contract Audit Agency) Audit Programs, and other guidance
  • Illustrate how to satisfy these requirements using examples and sample data
  • Explain what to expect from Government auditors during their audits of these systems, processes, and reports

With this training, you will gain the fundamental skills to successfully navigate the Government's oversight of contract cost accounting and billing of contract costs.

Learning Objectives

In this course, you will examine the core elements of Government Contract Cost Accounting and learn what to expect when Government auditors conduct their oversight. Upon completing this course you should be able to:

  • Identify the compliance requirements that arise from the award of certain contract types.
  • Differentiate types of costs and associated methods used for cost accounting in Government contracts.
  • Relate the configuration of a contractor's accounting system to the criteria in Standard Form 1408.
  • Provide examples of how the contractor's accounting system satisfies the auditor based on the audit program.
  • Recognize the requirements for establishing and monitoring provisional billing rates pursuant to FAR Subpart 42.7.
  • Evaluate the adequacy of each schedule included in a contractor's Final Indirect Cost Rate Proposal, pursuant to FAR Clause 52.216-7.
  • Identify relevant source regulations and guidance pertaining to accounting system compliance, provisional billing rates, and final indirect cost rate proposals.

For more information, see the full Course Outline with topics, resources, and specific learning objectives by Module.

Course Modules & Lessons

This 12 CPE-hour course includes 9 modules. You will learn the fundamental cost accounting concepts for Federal Government contracting and what it takes to ensure compliance. View the Course Outline for additional details.

Module 1:
Government Contract Cost Accounting Basics

  • Lesson 1: Fundamental Concepts of Federal Contract Cost Accounting
  • Lesson 2: Regulations Concerning Federal Contract Accounting

Module 2:
Accounting System Adequacy

  • Lesson 1: Federal Acquisition Regulation — Defining Accounting System Adequacy
  • Lesson 2: Accounting System Adequacy Criteria
  • Lesson 3: Standard Form 1408

Module 3:
Configuring the Accounting System

  • Lesson 1: Segregating Direct Costs from Indirect Costs
  • Lesson 2: Accumulating Direct Costs by Contract
  • Lesson 3: Allocating Indirect Costs
  • Lesson 4.1: Indirect Cost Pools: Fringe Benefits
  • Lesson 4.2: Indirect Cost Pools: Facilities
  • Lesson 4.3: Indirect Cost Pools: Overhead
  • Lesson 4.4: Indirect Cost Pools: G&A
  • Lesson 4.5: Indirect Cost Pools: Summary of Accumulation & Allocation of Indirect Costs
  • Lesson 5: Accumulating Costs Under General Ledger Control

Module 4:
Accounting System Adequacy — Labor Charging System

  • Lesson 1: Adequate Timekeeping
  • Lesson 2: Labor Distribution

Module 5:
Accounting System Adequacy — Remaining Criteria

  • Lesson 1: Determining Costs Charged to Contracts
  • Lesson 2: Allowability of Costs Charged to Contracts
  • Lesson 3: Identifying Costs by CLIN or Unit
  • Lesson 4: Preproduction vs. Production Costs

Module 6:
Accounting System Adequacy — Cost Accounting Information to Support Billing

  • Lesson 1: Limitation of Cost and Limitation on Payments
  • Lesson 2: Substantiating Progress Payments

Module 7:
Accounting System Adequacy — Practical Use

  • Lesson 1: Adequate, Reliable Data
  • Lesson 2: Operational Status

Module 8:
Provisional Billing Rates

  • Lesson 1: What are Provisional Billing Rates
  • Lesson 2: Establishing Billing Rates
  • Lesson 3: Submitting the Proposal
  • Lesson 4: Billing and Monitoring Rates

Module 9:
Submitting a Final Indirect Cost Rate Proposal

  • Lesson 1: Determining Final Indirect Cost Rates
  • Lesson 2: Final Indirect Cost Rate Proposal Requirements
  • Lesson 3: Proposal Adequacy

Self Study Program Format

This online QAS self study course is presented using video lessons, interactive quizzes and review activities, digital course files and source references, and an online exam. This is a self-paced course. You complete the course on your own schedule, without interaction with a course instructor or other course participants.

To recieve CPE credit, participants must complete all video lessons and achieve a passing grade of at least 70% on the Qualified Assessment.

This course has 9 Learning Modules, each including:

  • Module Learning Objectives
    Specific learning objectives identify key outcomes for each module.
  • Video Lessons
    Video tutorials explain key concepts, highlight related Federal regulations, illustrate requirements with sample data, and identify what to expect during an audit. Pause and reference the source documents and course publication. Re-watch segments as needed. View in browser, or using the mobile app.
  • Quizzes with Feedback
    Quizzes are provided a the end of each lesson, with additional Review Activies at the end of select Modules. Feedback is provided with each correct and incorrect answer. Use these questions as a tool for assessing material that should be re-studied.
  • Source Resources & Supporting Documents
    Links to source references (e.g. FAR, DFARS, DCAA guidance), as well as sample data, are included within each module.

The Cost Accounting for Government Contractors course includes a companion eBook, What Accountants Need to Know about Cost Accounting for Government Contractors, which is available for download as a pdf file in the course materials. The publication provides a written explanation of the course subject matter, and includes figures to illustrate the concepts, a glossary of terms, and an appendix with source references. The publication should be used as a learning tool for completing the course and as a reference after the course is completed.

Course materials are available for 24/7 online access using a web browser. A mobile app is also available for viewing video lessons and accessing course materials on the go. Courses are available for 180 days from enrollment. All course materials and the final exam must be successfully completed before course expiration to earn CPE.

Course Instructor/Author

Robert C. Smith, CPA (View Bio)

Robert is an accountant and expert in Federal Contract Cost Accounting with over 4 decades of experience both in the private sector and as a public accountant. Robert was an early advocate of using QuickBooks to satisfy FAR and DFARS requirements for DCAA compliant accounting. In 2003 he founded ICAT Systems, a software, training and consulting firm, to give small businesses the tools to succeed in government contract accounting. Robert specializes in helping businesses set up compliant accounting systems to pass their DCAA accounting system review. Robert leads ICAT Systems’ training seminars and workshops, in which he has instructed hundreds of government contractors and accountants on the steps to successfully comply with and manage Federal Contract Accounting.

Policies & Procedures

This self study program is expressly for individual use and is not intended for group presentation. Unauthorized replication of or use of the course materials to facilitate group live training is prohibited. CPE credit for this course, pending approval, may only be issued by ICAT Systems for successful completion of a self study program. For group live training programs, please contact us.

Registration »

You can register online by creating an account on the ICAT Systems website and completing your purchase via credit card. Upon purchase you will be enrolled in the course and have access to the course materials through the training portal.

Each individual taking the course will need an account with their own login credentials in order to receive credit for the course and be issued a CPE certificate upon completion.

To register multiple individuals, please email us.

Course Completion »

To complete the course for CPE credit, all video lessons must be viewed and the Qualified Assessment (i.e. final exam) must be completed with a grade of 70% or better. The Qualified Assessment will be graded automatically upon submission. Course participants will be notified of their grade within the training portal upon submitting the Qualified Assessment. Participants will have two (2) attempts to successfully complete the Qualified Aassessment. Upon the participant completing the course requirements and meeting the passing requirement for the Qualified Assessment, the CPE Certificate will be issued for the recommended CPE credit hours.

Participants who do not pass the Qualified Assessment within the first two attempts are not permitted to retake the exam without a new registration for the course. A participant may re-register with a retake fee to reset the availability of course materials and have an additional attempt at the Qualified Assessment.

The course is expected to take 12 hours to complete. Please allow ample time.

Course Expiration »

This course will be available for 180 days after purchase/enrollment. The specific expiration date will be displayed on the dashboard when signed in to the training portal. All course materials and the qualified assessment must be completed prior to course expiration. You will not have access to the course materials (videos, quizzes, publications, supporting documents) after that date. Through you account, you may continue to access your course completion information and certificate for up to 3 months after completing the course. Please save a copy of your CPE Certificate outside of the training portal and retain for your records. For records after that period, please contact us.

Cancellation/Refunds »
If you must cancel your enrollment, you must do so within 15 calendar days from purchase/enrollment. Please email a written request for withdrawal and refund within 15 days of purchase.

When the enrollee has not started the course, a full refund will be provided. When the enrollee has started but not completed the course, a request for a full refund may be denied. All printed course materials must be returned to ICAT Systems and all electronic versions of course materials must be deleted from all devices as a condition of refund.

No refunds will be given once you have started or completed the qualified assessment, or a significant portion of the content has been viewed and/or downloaded.

Please contact us if you are not happy with the course or need to modify your enrollment. For more information regarding refund, concerns, and program cancellation policies, please call our offices at (304) 592-4159.

In the unlikely event ICAT Systems must cancel a training program which has not been completed by a registered participant, ICAT Systems will notify current registrants in that program, and attempt to receive written or verbal confirmation of receipt of this notification. In circumstances where participant registration cannot be transferred to and/or rescheduled for an equivalent training program, payments for training programs cancelled by ICAT Systems prior to completion by the participant will be refunded.
Concerns or Issues »

Issues or concerns regarding any ICAT Systems CPE program should first be addressed to the ICAT Systems Training Administrator:

In writing:   -or- 

By phone: (304) 592-4159

ICAT Systems will review all concerns and respond as soon as possible within 5 business days. ICAT Systems will seek a prompt and satisfactory resolution to any issues or concerns.  

Training Policies »

For refund, concerns and program cancellation policies, please visit ICAT Systems Training Policies page, or contact our offices at 304-592-4159.

Course Publication/Revision Date: Original Publication 9/2018; Course Launch 5/2019; Last Review 11/2022
ICAT Systems is registered with the National Association of State Boards of Accountancy (NASBA) as a sponsor of continuing professional education on the National Registry of CPE Sponsors. State boards of accountancy have final authority on the acceptance of individual courses for CPE credit. Complaints regarding registered sponsors may be submitted to the National Registry of CPE Sponsors through its website: