48 CFR 9904.401-61 - Interpretation.
(a) 9904.401, Cost Accounting Standard - Consistency in Estimating, Accumulating and Reporting Costs, requires in 9904.401-40 that a contractor's “practices used in estimating costs in pricing a proposal shall be consistent with his cost accounting practices used in accumulating and reporting costs.”
(b) In estimating the cost of direct material requirements for a contract, it is a common practice to first estimate the cost of the actual quantities to be incorporated in end items. Provisions are then made for additional direct material costs to cover expected material losses such as those which occur, for example, when items are scrapped, fail to meet specifications, are lost, consumed in the manufacturing process, or destroyed in testing and qualification processes. The cost of some or all of such additional direct material requirements is often estimated by the application of one or more percentage factors to the total cost of basic direct material requirements or to some other base.
(c) Questions have arisen as to whether the accumulation of direct material costs in an undifferentiated account where a contractor estimates a significant part of such costs by means of percentage factors is in compliance with 9904.401. The most serious questions pertain to such percentage factors which are not supported by the contractor with accounting, statistical, or other relevant data from past experience, nor by a program to accumulate actual costs for comparison with such percentage estimates. The accumulation of direct costs in an undifferentiated account in this circumstance is a cost accounting practice which is not consistent with the practice of estimating a significant part of costs by means of percentage factors. This situation is virtually identical with that described in Illustration 9904.401-60(b)(5), which deals with labor.
(d) 9904.401 does not, however, prescribe the amount of detail required in accumulating and reporting costs. The amount of detail required may vary considerably depending on the percentage factors used, the data presented in justification or lack thereof, and the significance of each situation. Accordingly, it is neither appropriate nor practical to prescribe a single set of accounting practices which would be consistent in all situations with the practices of estimating direct material costs by percentage factors. Therefore, the amount of accounting and statistical detail to be required and maintained in accounting for this portion of direct material costs has been and continues to be a matter to be decided by Government procurement authorities on the basis of the individual facts and circumstances.