48 CFR 9904.409-50 - Techniques for application.
(a) Determination of the appropriate depreciation charges involves estimates both of service life and of the likely pattern of consumption of services in the cost accounting periods included in such life. In selecting service life estimates and in selecting depreciation methods, many of the same physical and economic factors should be considered. The following are among the factors which may be taken into account: Quantity and quality of expected output, and the timing thereof; costs of repair and maintenance, and the timing thereof; standby or incidental use and the timing thereof; and technical or economic obsolescence of the asset (or group of assets), or of the product or service it is involved in producing.
(b) Depreciation of a tangible capital asset shall begin when the asset and any others on which its effective use depends are ready for use in a normal or acceptable fashion. However, where partial utilization of a tangible capital asset is identified with a specific operation, depreciation shall commence on any portion of the asset which is substantially completed and used for that operation. Depreciable spare parts which are required for the operation of such tangible capital assets shall be accounted for over the service life of the assets.
(c) A consistent policy shall be followed in determining the depreciable cost to be assigned to the beginning and ending cost accounting periods of asset use. The policy may provide for any reasonable starting and ending dates in computing the first and last year depreciable cost.
(d) Tangible capital assets may be accounted for by treating each individual asset as an accounting unit, or by combining two or more assets as a single accounting unit, provided such treatment is consistently applied over the service life of the asset or group of assets.
(e) Estimated service lives initially established for tangible capital assets (or groups of assets) shall be reasonable approximations of their expected actual periods of usefulness, considering the factors mentioned in paragraph (a) of this subsection. The estimate of the expected actual periods of usefulness need not include the additional period tangible capital assets are retained for standby or incidental use where adequate records are maintained which reflect the withdrawal from active use.
(1) The expected actual periods of usefulness shall be those periods which are supported by records of either past retirement or, where available, withdrawal from active use (and retention for standby or incidental use) for like assets (or groups of assets) used in similar circumstances appropriately modified for specifically identified factors expected to influence future lives. The factors which can be used to modify past experience include:
(i) Changes in expected physical usefulness from that which has been experienced such as changes in the quantity and quality of expected output.
(ii) Changes in expected economic usefulness, such as changes in expected technical or economic obsolescence of the asset (or group of assets), or of the product or service produced.
(2) Supporting records shall be maintained which are adequate to show the age at retirement or, if the contractor so chooses, at withdrawal from active use (and retention for standby or incidental use) for a sample of assets for each significant category. Whether assets are accounted for individually or by groups, the basis for estimating service life shall be predicated on supporting records of experienced lives for either individual assets or any reasonable grouping of assets as long as that basis is consisently used. The burden shall be on the contractor to justify estimated service lives which are shorter than such experienced lives.
(3) The records required in subparagraphs (e) (1) and (2) of this subsection, if not available on the date when the requirements of this Standard must first be followed by a contractor, shall be developed from current and historical fixed asset records and be available following the second fiscal year after that date. They shall be used as a basis for estimates of service lives of tangible capital assets acquired thereafter. Estimated service lives used for financial accounting purposes (or other accounting purposes where depreciation is not recorded for financial accounting purposes for some non-commercial organizations), if not unreasonable under the criteria specified in paragraph (e) of this subsection, shall be used until adequate supporting records are available.
(4) Estimated service lives for tangible capital assets for which the contractor has no available data or no prior experience for similar assets shall be established based on a projection of the expected actual period of usefulness, but shall not be less than asset guideline periods (mid-range) established for asset guideline classes under Internal Revenue Procedures which are in effect as of the first day of the cost accounting period in which the assets are acquired. Use of this alternative procedure shall cease as soon as the contractor is able to develop estimates which are appropriately supported by his own experience.
(5) The contracting parties may agree on the estimated service life of individual tangible capital assets where the unique purpose for which the equipment was acquired or other special circumstances warrant a shorter estimated service life than the life determined in accordance with the other provisions of this 9904.409-50(e) and where the shorter life can be reasonably predicted.
(1) The method of depreciation used for financial accounting purposes (or other accounting purposes where depreciation is not recorded for financial accounting purposes) shall be used for contract costing unless:
(i) Such method does not reasonably reflect the expected consumption of services for the tangible capital asset (or group of assets) to which applied, or
(ii) The method is unacceptable for Federal income tax purposes.
(2) After the date of initial applicability of this Standard, selection of methods of depreciation for newly acquired tangible capital assets, which are different from the methods currently being used for like assets in similar circumstances, shall be supported by projections of the expected consumption of services of those assets (or groups of assets) to which the different methods of depreciation shall apply. Support in accordance with paragraph (f)(3) of this subsection shall be based on the expected consumption of services of either individual assets or any reasonable grouping of assets as long as the basis selected for grouping assets is consistently used.
(3) The expected consumption of asset services over the estimated service life of a tangible capital asset (or group of assets) is influenced by the factors mentioned in paragraph (a) of this subsection which affect either potential activity or potential output of the asset (or group of assets). These factors may be measured by the expected activity or the expected physical output of the assets, as for example: Hours of operation, number of operations performed, number of units produced, or number of miles traveled. An acceptable surrogate for expected activity or output might be a monetary measure of that activity or output generated by use of tangible capital assets, such as estimated labor dollars, total cost incurred or total revenues, to the extent that such monetary measures can reasonably be related to the usage of specific tangible capital assets (or groups of assets). In the absence of reliable data for the measurement or estimation of the consumption of asset services by the techniques mentioned, the expected consumption of services may be represented by the passage of time. The appropriate method of depreciation should be selected as follows:
(i) An accelerated method of depreciation is appropriate where the expected consumption of asset services is significantly greater in early years of asset life.
(ii) The straight-line method of depreciation is appropriate where the expected consumption of asset services is reasonably level over the service life of the asset (or group of assets).
(g) The estimated service life and method of depreciation to be used for an original complement of low-cost equipment shall be based on the expected consumption of services over the expected useful life of the complement as a whole and shall not be based on the individual items which form the complement.
(h) Estimated residual values shall be determined for all tangible capital assets (or groups of assets). For tangible personal property, only estimated residual values which exceed ten percent of the capitalized cost of the asset (or group of assets) need be used in establishing depreciable costs. Where either the declining balance method of depreciation or the class life asset depreciation range system is used consistent with the provisions of this Standard, the residual value need not be deducted from capitalized cost to determine depreciable costs. No depreciation cost shall be charged which would significantly reduce book value of a tangible capital asset (or group of assets) below its residual value.
(i) Estimates of service life, consumption of services, and residual value shall be reexamined for tangible capital assets (or groups of assets) whenever circumstances change significantly. Where changes are made to the estimated service life, residual value, or method of depreciation during the life of a tangible capital asset, the remaining depreciable costs for cost accounting purposes shall be limited to the undepreciated cost of the assets and shall be assigned only to the cost accounting period in which the change is made and to subsequent periods.
(1) Gains and losses on disposition of tangible capital assets shall be considered as adjustments of depreciation costs previously recognized and shall be assigned to the cost accounting period in which disposition occurs except as provided in subparagraphs (j) (2) and (3) of this subsection. The gain or loss for each asset disposed of is the difference between the net amount realized, including insurance proceeds in the event of involuntary conversion, and its undepreciated balance. However, the gain to be recognized for contract costing purposes shall be limited to the difference between the original acquisition cost of the asset and its undepreciated balance.
(2) Gains and losses on the disposition of tangible capital assets shall not be recognized where:
(i) Assets are grouped and such gains and losses are processed through the accumulated depreciation account, or
(ii) The asset is given in exchange as part of the purchase price of a similar asset and the gain or loss is included in computing the depreciable cost of the new asset.
(3) The contracting parties may account for gains and losses arising from mass or extraordinary dispositions in a manner which will result in treatment equitable to all parties.
(4) Gains and losses on disposition of tangible capital assets transferred in other than an arms-length transaction and subsequently disposed of within 12 months from the date of transfer shall be assigned to the transferor.
(5) The provisions of this subsection 9904.409-50(j) do not apply to business combinations. The carrying values of tangible capital assets acquired subsequent to a business combination shall be established in accordance with the provisions of subsection 9904.404-50(d).
(k) Where, in accordance with 9904.409-40(b)(1), the depreciation costs of like tangible capital assets used for similar purposes are directly charged to cost objectives on the basis of usage, average charging rates based on cost shall be established for the use of such assets. Any variances between total depreciation cost charged to cost objectives and total depreciation cost for the cost accounting period shall be accounted for in accordance with the contractor's established practice for handling such variances.
(l) Practices for determining depreciation methods, estimated service lives and estimated residual values need not be changed for assets acquired prior to compliance with this Standard if otherwise acceptable under applicable procurement regulations. However, if changes are effected such changes must conform to the criteria established in this Standard and may be effected on a prospective basis to cover the undepreciated balance of cost by agreement between the contracting parties pursuant to negotiation under subdivision (a)(4) (ii) or (iii) of the contract clause set out at 9903.201-4(a).