How to
Make QuickBooks® DCAA Compliant
for Government Contracts

Self Study CPE Training

Recommended CPE:
5 hours
Field of Study:
Program Level:
Cost Accounting for Government Contractors, or prior experience with federal contract cost accounting recommended. Knowledge of QuickBooks Desktop recommended. QuickBooks and ICAT software subscriptions are not required to successfully complete the course.
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 Online Course
  • 24 On-Demand Video Lessons with actionable tips on complying with SF1408 criteria
  • Review Questions & Activities for Each Module
  • Source References
  • 180 Days to Complete the Course
  • 24/7 Browser & Mobile App Access to Course Materials
  • One Opportunity to Complete the Qualified Assessment (Final Exam)
Upon successful completion of the course and exam, you will receive:
  • 5 hours CPE
  • A Printable & Shareable CPE Certificate

Is your accounting system ready for government contracting?

This course is designed to give government contractors and their accountants step-by-step, actionable guidance on how to set up a FAR-compliant accounting system using QuickBooks® Desktop together with ICAT.

If you're asking —

How do I set up QuickBooks Desktop to have an Adequate Accounting System?

What is necessary to satisfy the Standard Form 1408 criteria?

Can I pass a DCAA accounting system review using QuickBooks?

This course is for you.

You will learn how to apply federal contract cost accounting principles to a QuickBooks accounting system to pass a DCAA accounting system review and support government contracts.

We walk you step-by-step through proven methods for configuring QuickBooks Desktop to satisfy the requirements of Standard Form 1408, the Preaward Survey of a Prospective Contractor's Accounting System. We also show you how to use an application like ICAT (Indirect Cost Allocation Tool) to satisfy the accounting system adequacy criteria that QuickBooks on its own cannot satisfy.

Course Learning Objectives

Upon completing this course you should be able to:

  • Set up QuickBooks with ICAT for government contracting
  • Apply principles of federal contracting to the accounting system
  • Demonstrate accounting system outputs comply with SF1408 requirements

For more information, see the full Course Outline with topics, resources, and lessons by module.

What You Will Learn

In this 5 CPE-hour course, you will learn proven methods for configuring QuickBooks to satisfy SF1408 criteria and maintain a DCAA-compliant accounting system.

Step-by-step instructions in this course apply to QuickBooks Desktop editions and the ICAT (Indirect Cost Allocation Tool) add-on for QuickBooks Desktop editions. This includes QuickBooks Premier, Enterprise, and Accountant editions - whether installed locally or in a cloud-hosted environment. Please note, this course is not intended for QuickBooks Online (QBO) users. QuickBooks Online (QBO) is a different software application from the QuickBooks Desktop (including cloud-hosted) software editions and some instructions will vary. ICAT does not currently integrate with QBO. Questions? Contact Us.

View the Course Outline (pdf) for full details.

Using QuickBooks as a Federal Contractor

An adequate accounting system is a prerequisite for the award of certain Federal contracts. What does that mean for a business using QuickBooks?

  • You will learn to:
  • Identify items needed to pass a DCAA accounting system review
  • Recognize which configuration criteria can and cannot be satisfied by QuickBooks
  • Lesson 1: What is required?
  • Lesson 2: What QuickBooks satisfies – and what it does not

Module 1:
Organize the QuickBooks Chart of Accounts for Federal Contracts

A properly configured chart of accounts can facilitate compliance with 3 items on SF1408.

  • You will learn to:
  • Identify methods to segregate direct costs from indirect costs in the chart of accounts
  • Organize the indirect cost pool structure in the chart of accounts
  • Demonstrate that unallowable costs are segregated from allowable costs in the chart of accounts
  • Lesson 1: The Government Contractor’s Chart of Accounts
  • Lesson 2: Identify Cost Pools
  • Lesson 3: Create Accounts to Establish Cost Pools
  • Lesson 4: Create Transaction-Level Accounts in Cost Pools
  • Lesson 5: Finalize Cost Pool Configuration

Module 2:
Configure QuickBooks to Track Costs by Contract

The QuickBooks job cost functionality enables classification of costs by specific final cost objectives, or contracts.

  • You will learn to:
  • Set up QuickBooks to track costs by final cost objective
  • Demonstrate how to identify and accumulate direct costs by contract
  • Determine that job-cost detail reconciles to the general ledger
  • Lesson 1: Track Costs by Final Cost Objective
  • Lesson 2: Set Up Final Cost Objectives in QuickBooks
  • Lesson 3: Compare Job Cost Totals to G/L Account Balances

Module 3:
Set Up the Labor Distribution System

There are various scenarios for distributing labor costs based on time data. We review the options – the choice is up to you.

  • You will learn to:
  • Recognize the options for maintaining a labor distribution system
  • Identify data points necessary to distribute labor costs in QuickBooks based on time data
  • Employ the QuickBooks Payroll function to distribute labor costs
  • Validate the distribution of labor costs
  • Lesson 1: Labor Distribution and QuickBooks
  • Lesson 2: Configure QuickBooks to Distribute Labor Costs
  • Lesson 3: QuickBooks Labor Distribution: QuickBooks Payroll
  • Lesson 4: QuickBooks Labor Distribution: 3rd Party Payroll
  • Lesson 5: Validate Labor Distribution

Module 4:
Allocate Indirect Costs to Contracts

QuickBooks alone does not support all SF1408 criteria, so you will need a method for satisfying those requirements. We show you how to use ICAT with QuickBooks.

  • You will learn to:
  • Identify SF1408 requirements satisfied by ICAT
  • Configure ICAT to allocate indirect costs
  • Demonstrate indirect costs are allocated to intermediate and final cost objectives
  • Lesson 1: Indirect Cost Allocation and QuickBooks
  • Lesson 2: Set Up ICAT to Allocate Indirect Costs 
  • Lesson 3: Identify Cost Pool Type
  • Lesson 4: Map Pool & Base Components: Direct Costs & Allocation Centers
  • Lesson 5: Map Pool & Base Components: Fringe, Overhead, & G&A
  • Lesson 6: Generate Contract Cost Reports

Module 5:
Generate Cost Reports in ICAT

Maintaining an adequate accounting system enables you to generate reports for monitoring contract costs – and satisfy SF1408 criteria.

  • You will learn to:
  • Show costs charged to contracts using ICAT with QuickBooks
  • Show labor charges using labor distribution reporting in ICAT
  • Compare amounts billed vs. contract funding limitations
  • Lesson 1: Determine Costs Charged to Contracts
  • Lesson 2: Set Up Labor Distribution Reporting
  • Lesson 3: Track Amounts Billed vs. Funding Limitations

Self Study Program Format

This online self-study course is presented using video lessons that include step-by-step demonstrations, interactive review questions, source references, and an online exam.

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. You complete the course on your own schedule and at your own pace, without interaction with a course instructor or other course participants.

This course includes an introduction to using QuickBooks in federal contracting and 5 modules with instructions for configuring QuickBooks and ICAT to satisfy federal accounting system requirements.

Each module includes:

  • Module Learning Objectives
    Specific learning objectives identify key outcomes for each module.
  • Video Lessons
    Interactive video lessons teach concepts and demonstrate step-by-step instructions within the QuickBooks Desktop and ICAT applications. Use the video lesson player to navigate to specific sections of a lesson. Re-watch segments as needed. View in browser, or using the mobile app. All lessons must be marked as complete.
  • Review Questions with Feedback
    Review questions (quizzes) are provided throughout each module. Feedback is provided with each correct and incorrect answer, and multiple attempts are allowed on review questions. Use these questions as a tool for assessing material that should be re-studied. Review questions are not graded, but must be marked as complete.
  • Source Resources
    Links to source references (e.g. SF1408, DCAA guidance) are included with the course.
  • Qualified Assessment
    One attempt to successfully complete the final exam with a passing grade of 70% or better.

You have 180 days from registration to complete the course. You must complete the course materials in the sequence presented to progress through the course. All course materials and the Qualified Assessment must be completed prior to the expiration date.

Your certificate and CPE credit will be awarded automatically upon completing all required units and achieving a passing grade of at least 70% on the Qualified Assessment.

What is the Learning Experience Like?

With on-demand training, you can navigate content at your own pace, revisit segments, and even follow along configuring your own QuickBooks software. Each video lesson in this course is comprised of short segments, with the ability to navigate to specific topics in the lesson via the Outline menu within the player.

See for yourself with a sample segment from a course lesson:

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. Hundreds of businesses across the country have passed their DCAA accounting system review using QuickBooks with Robert's assistance. Robert leads ICAT Systems’ training, in which he instructs government contractors and accountants on the steps to successfully comply with requirements and manage federal contracts.

Course Software Versions

Step-by-step instructions in this course apply to QuickBooks Desktop editions and the ICAT (Indirect Cost Allocation Tool) add-on for QuickBooks Desktop editions. This includes QuickBooks Premier, Enterprise, and Accountant editions - whether installed locally or in a hosted environment.

Please note, this course is not intended for QuickBooks Online (QBO). QuickBooks Online (QBO) is a different software application from the QuickBooks Desktop software editions and some instructions will vary from what is presented in this course. ICAT does not currently integrate with QBO.

QuickBooks and ICAT software subscriptions are not required to successfully complete the course.

QuickBooks and Intuit are registered trademarks and service marks of Intuit Inc., displayed under license. ICAT Systems, DCAA Compliance Solutions and the ICAT logo are registered trademarks of ICAT Systems.


Can you really use QuickBooks for DCAA compliant accounting? »

Absolutely! As long as your accounting system satisfies the requirements on SF1408 you can pass a DCAA accounting system review. Course instructor Robert C. Smith, CPA has assisted businesses and accountants in preparing for and undergoing successful DCAA reviews. The instructions presented in this course share his proven techniques for setting up QuickBooks Desktop for compliance.

Is this course for QuickBooks Online? »

No, this course is not intended for QuickBooks Online (QBO). QuickBooks Online (QBO) is a different software application from the QuickBooks Desktop software editions and some instructions will vary from what is presented in this course. ICAT does not currently integrate with QBO.

Step-by-step instructions in this course apply to QuickBooks Desktop editions and the ICAT (Indirect Cost Allocation Tool) add-on for QuickBooks Desktop editions. This includes QuickBooks Premier, Enterprise, and Accountant editions - whether installed locally or in a hosted environment.

I don't have any contracts/cost-type contracts yet. Why should I take this course? »

It's never too early to start preparing your accounting system for new opportunities. Even if you are not doing cost-type contracts yet, implementing your accounting system in this manner will provide you with the information you will need to compete and succeed in this sector.

With a properly configured accounting system, you'll gain a stronger understanding of your indirect costs and the total cost of doing business. When you do get that contract, you will know the easiest solution for rapid implementation of compliant processes and proceedures.

How will this benefit me if I have an accountant handling this? »

Business owners and leaders are responsible for ensuring compliance with the FAR. When you and your team understand the accounting system requirements, you can recognize the risks of non-compliance, and benefit from a more effective working relationship with your accountant.

I use QuickBooks but I don't have ICAT. Do I need to purchase ICAT first? »

That's ok! The ICAT software is not required to complete the course.

Yes, this course uses ICAT to illustrate how to comply with certain SF1408 criteria that QuickBooks on its own does not satisfy. Once you know what is needed to use QuickBooks as a government contractor, you can apply these concepts to the solution that works best for you.

Why should I pay for this if there are free ICAT tutorials online? »

This course relates the setup and capabilities of QuickBooks and ICAT to the accounting system criteria on SF1408, giving you a complete explanation of how to satisfy each item using these applications. The ICAT tutorials provide brief instructions on functionality, but do not offer the more in-depth, compliance-focused training provided in the course.

This course equips you with a convenient roadmap for setting up your accounting system. This course also provides a comprehensive framework for training your team.

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.

Disclaimer: Enrolling in this course does not establish a client engagement. Businesses should consult with their accountant and other professional advisors for guidance specific to their circumstances.

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 and receive CPE credit participants must complete all video lessons and review questions, and achieve a passing grade of at least 70% on the Qualified Assessment (i.e. final exam). 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 one (1) opportunity to successfully complete the Qualified Assessment. 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 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 5 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 your 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: Course Launch: 11/2020; Last Review: 10/2022
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: