LabCo must determine if their accounting policy for the revenue treatment of its construction contracts is reasonable, if it is appropriate for LabCo to change its method of accounting for the Halibut contract from the percentage-of-completion method to the completed-contract method and how the change should be treated on the basis of the guidance provided within ASC 250, and how LabCo’s accounting policy and accounting for the Halibut contract may change under IFRS if adopted in the coming year. This memorandum will provide support for how the overall conclusion, based on the issues above, was reached.
Accounting Policy for Revenue Treatment
LabCo is a large construction contracting firm, and negotiates all of its contracts with its customers on either a fixed-price or cost-plus basis. LabCo has developed an accounting policy for revenue recognition related to its customized construction contracts, as follows: “The Company performs under a variety of contracts, some of which provide for reimbursement of cost plus fees, and others that are fixed-price-type contracts. Revenues and fees on these contracts are primarily recognized on a contract-by-contract basis using the percentage-of-completion method of accounting, which is most often based on contract costs incurred to date compared with total estimated costs at completion (cost-to-cost method).” “The completed-contract method of accounting is used in instances in which reliably dependable estimates of the total costs to be incurred under a specific contract cannot be made.” Change in Method of Accounting for Revenue Treatment
LabCo has entered into a contract with Halibut to build a six-axis laser cutting machine. The contract entered into was for a fixed-price and requires detailed and involved performance specifications. Even though this was a unique arrangement that required a great deal of customer specification, LabCo believed that with its extensive experience performing under similar contracts, including previous contract with Halibut, the percentage-of-completion method of accounting for this contract was appropriate. After LabCo began experiencing significant difficulties in the design and manufacture of the six-axis laser cutting machine, (including design revisions, certain engineering costs needing to be outsourced, and the cost of steel used in the production of the frame of the machine rising unexpectedly) they determined that their estimate of the overall cost to complete the contract needed to be revised. LabCo expected that the overall project would incur total costs that would be in excess of the total fixed-fee contract price negotiated with Halibut. As a result, management updated its estimates used in percentage-of-completion accounting to reflect both the cost overruns incurred as well as the cost overruns expected to be incurred, and also recorded a provision for the entire loss on the contract in the period in which it became aware that the contract costs would exceed the total contract value. After six-months, LabCo delivered the six-axis laser cutting machine to Halibut. Yet, when final test were ran using the six-axis, the machine failed to perform up to Halibut’s specifications as defined in the contract. LabCo then had to redesign, fix, and remedy the various issues with the machine. Upon notification of these continued problems, LabCo’s CAO determined that total estimates of the contract costs to be incurred for the Halibut contract were no longer able to be reliably determined. Therefore, the use of the percentage-of-completion method of accounting was deemed no longer an appropriate method of revenue recognition for this particular contract. As a result, the determination was made that LabCo would switch to a completed-contract method of revenue recognition for the duration of its contract with Halibut.
Based upon review of ASC 605-35-25-56, the use of the...