XML 29 R8.htm IDEA: XBRL DOCUMENT v3.5.0.2
Significant Accounting Policies
12 Months Ended
Sep. 30, 2016
Significant Accounting Policies  
Significant Accounting Policies

1. Significant Accounting Policies

        Organization—Effective January 5, 2015, the name of the Company changed from AECOM Technology Corporation to AECOM. AECOM and its consolidated subsidiaries design, build, finance and operate infrastructure assets for governments, businesses and organizations around the world. The Company provides planning, consulting, architectural and engineering design services to commercial and government clients worldwide in major end markets such as transportation, facilities, environmental, energy, water and government markets. The Company also provides construction services, including building construction and energy, infrastructure and industrial construction. In addition, the Company provides program and facilities management and maintenance, training, logistics, consulting, technical assistance, and systems integration and information technology services, primarily for agencies of the U.S. government and also for national governments around the world.

        Fiscal Year—The Company reports results of operations based on 52 or 53-week periods ending on the Friday nearest September 30. For clarity of presentation, all periods are presented as if the year ended on September 30. Fiscal years 2016, 2015 and 2014 contained 52, 52 and 53 weeks, respectively, and ended on September 30, October 2, and October 3, respectively.

        Use of Estimates—The preparation of financial statements in conformity with accounting principles generally accepted in the United States (GAAP) requires management to make estimates and assumptions that affect the reported amounts of assets and liabilities and disclosure of contingent assets and liabilities at the date of the financial statements and the reported amounts of revenues and expenses during the reporting period. The more significant estimates affecting amounts reported in the consolidated financial statements relate to revenues under long-term contracts and self-insurance accruals. Actual results could differ from those estimates.

        Principles of Consolidation and Presentation—The consolidated financial statements include the accounts of all majority-owned subsidiaries and joint ventures in which the Company is the primary beneficiary. All inter-company accounts have been eliminated in consolidation. Also see Note 6 regarding joint ventures and variable interest entities.

        Revenue Recognition—The Company generally utilizes a cost-to-cost approach in applying the percentage-of-completion method of revenue recognition. Under this approach, revenue is earned in proportion to total costs incurred, divided by total costs expected to be incurred. Recognition of revenue and profit is dependent upon a number of factors, including the accuracy of a variety of estimates made at the balance sheet date, engineering progress, materials quantities, the achievement of milestones, penalty provisions, labor productivity and cost estimates made at the balance sheet date. Due to uncertainties inherent in the estimation process, actual completion costs may vary from estimates. If estimated total costs on contracts indicate a loss, the Company recognizes that estimated loss within cost of revenues in the period the estimated loss first becomes known. Liabilities recorded related to accrued contract losses were not material as of September 30, 2016 and 2015.

        In the course of providing its services, the Company routinely subcontracts for services and incurs other direct costs on behalf of its clients. These costs are passed through to clients and, in accordance with industry practice and GAAP, are included in the Company's revenue and cost of revenue. Because subcontractor services and other direct costs can change significantly from project to project and period to period, changes in revenue may not be indicative of business trends. These other direct costs for the years ended September 30, 2016, 2015 and 2014 were $8.4 billion, $8.3 billion and $3.5 billion, respectively.

Cost-Reimbursable Contracts

        Cost-reimbursable contracts consists of two similar contract types: (1) cost-plus contracts and (2) time-and-materials price contracts.

        Cost-Plus Contracts.    The Company enters into two major types of cost-plus contracts:

        Cost-Plus Fixed Fee.    Under cost-plus fixed fee contracts, the Company charges clients for its costs, including both direct and indirect costs, plus a fixed negotiated fee. The total estimated cost plus the fixed negotiated fee represents the total contract value. The Company recognizes revenue based on the actual labor and other direct costs incurred, plus the portion of the fixed fee it has earned to date.

        Cost-Plus Fixed Rate.    Under the Company's cost-plus fixed rate contracts, the Company charges clients for its direct and indirect costs based upon a negotiated rate. The Company recognizes revenue based on the actual total costs it has expended and the applicable fixed rate.

        Certain cost-plus contracts provide for award fees or a penalty based on performance criteria in lieu of a fixed fee or fixed rate. Other contracts include a base fee component plus a performance-based award fee. In addition, the Company may share award fees with subcontractors. The Company records accruals for fee-sharing as fees are earned. The Company generally recognizes revenue to the extent of costs actually incurred plus a proportionate amount of the fee expected to be earned. The Company takes the award fee or penalty on contracts into consideration when estimating revenue and profit rates, and it records revenue related to the award fees when there is sufficient information to assess anticipated contract performance. On contracts that represent higher than normal risk or technical difficulty, the Company may defer all award fees until an award fee letter is received. Once an award fee letter is received, the estimated or accrued fees are adjusted to the actual award amount.

        Certain cost-plus contracts provide for incentive fees based on performance against contractual milestones. The amount of the incentive fees varies, depending on whether the Company achieves above, at, or below target results. The Company originally recognizes revenue on these contracts based upon expected results. These estimates are revised when necessary based upon additional information that becomes available as the contract progresses.

Time-and-Materials Price Contracts

        Time-and-Materials Price Contracts.    Under time-and-materials contracts, the Company negotiates hourly billing rates and charges its clients based on the actual time that it expends on a project. In addition, clients reimburse the Company for its actual out-of-pocket costs of materials and other direct incidental expenditures that it incurs in connection with its performance under the contract. Profit margins on time-and-materials contracts fluctuate based on actual labor and overhead costs that it directly charges or allocates to contracts compared to negotiated billing rates. Many of the Company's time-and-materials contracts are subject to maximum contract values and, accordingly, revenue relating to these contracts is recognized as if these contracts were a fixed-price contract.

Guaranteed Maximum Price Contracts

        Guaranteed Maximum Price.    Guaranteed maximum price contracts (GMP) are common for design-build and commercial and residential projects. GMP contracts share many of the same contract provisions as cost-plus and fixed-price contracts. A contractor performing work pursuant to a cost-plus, GMP or fixed-price contract will all enter into trade contracts directly. Both cost-plus and GMP contracts generally include an agreed lump sum or percentage fee which is called out and separately identified and the contracts are considered 'open' book providing the owner with full disclosure of the project costs. A fixed-price contract provides the owner with a single lump sum amount without specifically identifying the breakdown of fee or costs and is typically 'closed' book thereby providing the owner with little detail as to the project costs. In a GMP contract, unlike the cost-plus contract, the Company provides the owner with a guaranteed price for the overall construction (adjusted for change orders issued by the owner) and with a schedule which includes a completion date for the project. In addition, cost overruns in a GMP contract would generally be the Company's responsibility and in the event the Company's actions or inactions result in delays to the project, the Company may be responsible to the owner for costs associated with such delay. For many of the Company's commercial and residential GMP contracts, the final price is generally not established until the Company have awarded a substantial percentage of the trade contracts and it has negotiated additional contractual limitations, such as mutual waivers of consequential damages as well as aggregate caps on liabilities and liquidated damages.

Fixed-Price Contracts

        Fixed-Price.    Fixed-price contracting is the predominant contracting method outside of the United States. There are typically two types of fixed-price contracts. The first and more common type, lump-sum, involves performing all of the work under the contract for a specified lump-sum fee. Lump-sum contracts are typically subject to price adjustments if the scope of the project changes or unforeseen conditions arise. The second type, fixed-unit price, involves performing an estimated number of units of work at an agreed price per unit, with the total payment under the contract determined by the actual number of units delivered. The Company recognizes revenue on fixed-price contracts using the percentage-of-completion method described above. Prior to completion, recognized profit margins on any fixed-price contract depend on the accuracy of the Company's estimates and will increase to the extent that its actual costs are below the estimated amounts. Conversely, if the Company's costs exceed these estimates, its profit margins will decrease and the Company may realize a loss on a project. The Company recognizes anticipated losses on contracts in the period in which they become evident.

        During the years ended September 30, 2016, 2015 and 2014, the types of contracts comprising the Company's revenue were as follows:




Fiscal Year Ended




September 30,


September 30,


September 30,


Cost reimbursable











Guaranteed maximum price











Fixed price











        Cost reimburseable contracts include cost-plus and time-and-materials price contracts.

        Contract Claims—Claims are amounts in excess of the agreed contract price (or amounts not included in the original contract price) that the Company seeks to collect from customers or others for delays, errors in specifications and designs, contract terminations, change orders in dispute or unapproved as to both scope and price or other causes of unanticipated additional costs. The Company records contract revenue related to claims only if it is probable that the claim will result in additional contract revenue and if the amount can be reliably estimated. In such cases, the Company records revenue only to the extent that contract costs relating to the claim have been incurred. As of September 30, 2016 and 2015, the Company had no significant net receivables related to contract claims.

        Government Contract Matters—The Company's federal government and certain state and local agency contracts are subject to, among other regulations, regulations issued under the Federal Acquisition Regulations (FAR). These regulations can limit the recovery of certain specified indirect costs on contracts and subjects the Company to ongoing multiple audits by government agencies such as the Defense Contract Audit Agency (DCAA). In addition, most of the Company's federal and state and local contracts are subject to termination at the discretion of the client.

        Audits by the DCAA and other agencies consist of reviews of the Company's overhead rates, operating systems and cost proposals to ensure that the Company accounted for such costs in accordance with the Cost Accounting Standards of the FAR (CAS). If the DCAA determines the Company has not accounted for such costs consistent with CAS, the DCAA may disallow these costs. There can be no assurance that audits by the DCAA or other governmental agencies will not result in material cost disallowances in the future.

        Cash and Cash Equivalents—The Company's cash equivalents include highly liquid investments which have an initial maturity of three months or less.

        Allowance for Doubtful Accounts—The Company records its accounts receivable net of an allowance for doubtful accounts. This allowance for doubtful accounts is estimated based on management's evaluation of the contracts involved and the financial condition of its clients. The factors the Company considers in its contract evaluations include, but are not limited to:






Client type—federal or state and local government or commercial client; 



Historical contract performance; 



Historical collection and delinquency trends; 



Client credit worthiness; and 



General economic conditions.

        Derivative Financial Instruments—The Company accounts for its derivative instruments as either assets or liabilities and carries them at fair value.

        For derivative instruments that hedge the exposure to variability in expected future cash flows that are designated as cash flow hedges, the effective portion of the gain or loss on the derivative instrument is reported as a component of accumulated other comprehensive income in stockholders' equity and reclassified into income in the same period or periods during which the hedged transaction affects earnings. The ineffective portion of the gain or loss on the derivative instrument, if any, is recognized in current income. To receive hedge accounting treatment, cash flow hedges must be highly effective in offsetting changes to expected future cash flows on hedged transactions.

        The net gain or loss on the effective portion of a derivative instrument that is designated as an economic hedge of the foreign currency translation exposure generated by the re-measurement of certain assets and liabilities denominated in a non-functional currency in a foreign operation is reported in the same manner as a foreign currency translation adjustment. Accordingly, any gains or losses related to these derivative instruments are recognized in current income.

        Derivatives that do not qualify as hedges are adjusted to fair value through current income.

        Fair Value of Financial Instruments—The Company determines the fair values of its financial instruments, including short-term investments, debt instruments and derivative instruments, and pension and post-retirement plan assets based on inputs or assumptions that market participants would use in pricing an asset or a liability. The Company categorizes its instruments using a valuation hierarchy for disclosure of the inputs used to measure fair value. This hierarchy prioritizes the inputs into three broad levels as follows: Level 1 inputs are quoted prices (unadjusted) in active markets for identical assets or liabilities; Level 2 inputs are quoted prices for similar assets and liabilities in active markets or inputs that are observable for the asset or liability, either directly or indirectly through market corroboration, for substantially the full term of the financial instrument; Level 3 inputs are unobservable inputs based on the Company's assumptions used to measure assets and liabilities at fair value. The classification of a financial asset or liability within the hierarchy is determined based on the lowest level input that is significant to the fair value measurement.

        The carrying amounts of cash and cash equivalents, accounts receivable and accounts payable approximate fair value because of the short maturities of these instruments. The carrying amount of the revolving credit facility approximates fair value because the interest rates are based upon variable reference rates.

        The Company's fair value measurement methods may produce a fair value calculation that may not be indicative of net realizable value or reflective of future fair values. Although the Company believes its valuation methods are appropriate and consistent with those used by other market participants, the use of different methodologies or assumptions to determine fair value could result in a different fair value measurement at the reporting date.

        Property and Equipment—Property and equipment are recorded at cost and are depreciated over their estimated useful lives using the straight-line method. Expenditures for maintenance and repairs are expensed as incurred. Typically, estimated useful lives range from three to ten years for equipment, furniture and fixtures. Leasehold improvements are amortized on a straight-line basis over the shorter of their estimated useful lives or the remaining terms of the underlying lease agreement.

        Long-lived Assets—Long-lived assets to be held and used are reviewed for impairment whenever events or circumstances indicate that the assets may be impaired. For assets to be held and used, impairment losses are recognized based upon the excess of the asset's carrying amount over the fair value of the asset. For long-lived assets to be disposed, impairment losses are recognized at the lower of the carrying amount or fair value less cost to sell.

        Goodwill and Acquired Intangible Assets—Goodwill represents the excess of amounts paid over the fair value of net assets acquired from an acquisition. In order to determine the amount of goodwill resulting from an acquisition, the Company performs an assessment to determine the value of the acquired company's tangible and identifiable intangible assets and liabilities. In its assessment, the Company determines whether identifiable intangible assets exist, which typically include backlog and customer relationships. Intangible assets are amortized over the period in which the contractual or economic benefits of the intangible assets are expected to be realized.

        The Company tests goodwill for impairment annually for each reporting unit in the fourth quarter of the fiscal year, and between annual tests if events occur or circumstances change which suggest that goodwill should be evaluated. Such events or circumstances include significant changes in legal factors and business climate, recent losses at a reporting unit, and industry trends, among other factors. A reporting unit is defined as an operating segment or one level below an operating segment. The Company's impairment tests are performed at the operating segment level as they represent the Company's reporting units.

        The impairment test is a two-step process. During the first step, the Company estimates the fair value of the reporting unit using income and market approaches, and compares that amount to the carrying value of that reporting unit. In the event the fair value of the reporting unit is determined to be less than the carrying value, a second step is required. The second step requires the Company to perform a hypothetical purchase allocation for that reporting unit and to compare the resulting current implied fair value of the goodwill to the current carrying value of the goodwill for that reporting unit. In the event that the current implied fair value of the goodwill is less than the carrying value, an impairment charge is recognized. See also Note 3.

        Pension Plans—The Company has certain defined benefit pension plans. The Company calculates the market-related value of assets, which is used to determine the return-on-assets component of annual pension expense and the cumulative net unrecognized gain or loss subject to amortization. This calculation reflects the Company's anticipated long-term rate of return and amortization of the difference between the actual return (including capital, dividends, and interest) and the expected return over a five-year period. Cumulative net unrecognized gains or losses that exceed 10% of the greater of the projected benefit obligation or the market related value of plan assets are subject to amortization.

        Insurance Reserves—The Company maintains insurance for certain insurable business risks. Insurance coverage contains various retention and deductible amounts for which the Company accrues a liability based upon reported claims and an actuarially determined estimated liability for certain claims incurred but not reported. It is generally the Company's policy not to accrue for any potential legal expense to be incurred in defending the Company's position. The Company believes that its accruals for estimated liabilities associated with professional and other liabilities are sufficient and any excess liability beyond the accrual is not expected to have a material adverse effect on the Company's results of operations or financial position.

        Foreign Currency Translation—The Company's functional currency is the U.S. dollar. Results of operations for foreign entities are translated to U.S. dollars using the average exchange rates during the period. Assets and liabilities for foreign entities are translated using the exchange rates in effect as of the date of the balance sheet. Resulting translation adjustments are recorded as a foreign currency translation adjustment into other accumulated comprehensive income/(loss) in stockholders' equity.

        The Company uses foreign currency forward contracts from time to time to mitigate foreign currency risk. The Company limits exposure to foreign currency fluctuations in most of its contracts through provisions that require client payments in currencies corresponding to the currency in which costs are incurred. As a result of this natural hedge, the Company generally does not need to hedge foreign currency cash flows for contract work performed. The functional currency of all significant foreign operations is the respective local currency.

        Noncontrolling Interests—Noncontrolling interests represent the equity investments of the minority owners in the Company's joint ventures and other subsidiary entities that the Company consolidates in its financial statements.

        Income Taxes—The Company files a consolidated U.S. federal corporate income tax return and combined / consolidated state tax returns and separate company state tax returns. The Company accounts for certain income and expense items differently for financial reporting and income tax purposes. Deferred tax assets and liabilities are determined based on the difference between the financial statement and tax basis of assets and liabilities, applying enacted statutory tax rates in effect for the year in which the differences are expected to reverse. In determining the need for a valuation allowance, management reviews both positive and negative evidence, including the nature, frequency, and severity of cumulative financial reporting losses in recent years, the future reversal of existing temporary differences, predictability of future taxable income exclusive of reversing temporary differences of the character necessary to realize the asset, relevant carryforward periods, taxable income in carry-back years if carry-back is permitted under tax law, and prudent and feasible tax planning strategies that would be implemented, if necessary, to protect against the loss of the deferred tax asset that would otherwise expire. Based upon management's assessment of all available evidence, the Company has concluded that it is more likely than not that the deferred tax assets, net of valuation allowance, will be realized.