System tracks time, attendance

The Commerce Department's Office of Computer Services (OCS) is using a biometric time and accounting system dubbed the Integrated Time and Accounting System that it plans to market to other agencies.

ITAS integrates various systems developed by CDSI Business Applications Solutions Co. (CDSI BAS) a division of Computer Data Systems Inc. One of these is an Automated Bio-metric Identification System (ABIDS) which integrates biometric devices databases and smart card technologies.

Each employee in OCS is issued a smart card with a picture ID on it that stores personal information such as name address and other biometric data. The card combines magnetic stripe technology and a smart chip. It not only gives employees access to the rooms but also the time and attendance system in the computer center. The chip on the card records time and attendance data about that employee such as when he arrives and leaves for the day. It also can log when an employee moves to and from different work areas.

The card is used in tandem with a device that measures hand geometry to authenticate the user and provide added security. The device measures things such as the length of the fingers width of the hand at the palm and hand movement. In order to get access to a room the biometric information on the smart card must match up with the reading taken by the hand geometry device otherwise access is denied.

When employees use the smart card data stored on the chip such as when someone arrives to work in the morning is fed automatically into a central database and integrated into the time and attendance system and the cost allocation module of i.e.FARS (Information Engineered Financial Accounting and Reporting System). With this data i.e.FARS is able to allocate direct and indirect labor charges and create bills.

"We had unique security problems " said Patrick Smith director of OCS. "We looked for an enhanced security system that made sure there was adequate control to who got access to the center."One of the things that always bothered me is the time devoted to time and attendance " Smith added. "It seemed like a lot of overhead so we looked at an electronic time and attendance system. It was clear then that we could integrate" the two.

"By having a fully integrated system [the OCS] can have a turnkey system that covers all parts of the organization " said Jeff Ott a program manager in the Financial Systems Division at CDSI BAS. "Being fully integrated makes it flexible. And it can be changed to meet other organizations' needs."

Although Commerce is the first agency to implement ITAS others could adapt it for their own needs Ott said.

"All modules that make up ITAS are available off the shelf and they all work on their own " Ott added.Commerce is one of six pilot agencies chosen under the Government Performance and Results Act to implement franchise pilots and OCS is one of the activities under that pilot. OCS provides cross-servicing to various agencies in the government for a fee. Currently it provides off-the-shelf financial and administrative systems as well as general information technology services to about 30 agencies.

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