Intangible Assets

FASAB Contact: Josh R. Williams, williamsjr@fasab.gov, 202-512-4051

Research Objective:

Staff will research the significance of intangible assets throughout federal agencies for the Board to consider ultimately approving a project to develop accounting and financial reporting guidance for intangible assets that are not within scope of another more appropriate standard. The Board began initial deliberations of this topic as part of the now archived software licenses project. Members decided to archive the software licenses project due to the breadth of guidance potentially needed to address intangible assets.    

Intangible Assets Task Force

FASAB formed a task force in February of 2021 to assist the Board with the intangible assets research topic. The Intangible Asset Task Force webpage provides further information on the task force objectives and activities, to include past meeting agendas, minutes, and milestones.

History of Board Activities

June 22-23, 2021

 At the June meeting, staff presented research findings on federal intangible assets to the Board. The presentation highlighted potential intangible assets identified across federal reporting entities from information gathered from the task force survey responses, agency round table discussions, and other research. Staff also proposed a potential definition of intangible assets, potential approaches for scoping future guidance, as well as benefits and concerns with potential financial reporting guidance.

The agenda topic served as an information session and staff requested the Board’s general thoughts and concerns on the research results and associated guidance approaches. The Board agreed with staff that research indicates a need for updates to software guidance. The Board also shared staff’s concerns with potential recognition burdens associated with other types of identified intangible assets and concluded that caution is necessary in moving forward with developing reporting guidance without further considering the costs versus benefits.

The Board did not consider any specific staff proposals during this meeting. Staff plans to propose specific courses of action to the Board during the August meeting, when members deliberate adding an intangible assets project to the technical agenda.

Briefing Materials – Topic D

December 15-16, 2020

At the December meeting, the Board approved the technical plan for the intangible assets research topic. Staff will begin researching the significance of various intangible assets that exist throughout federal agencies. The Board predominantly agreed that this is an important and timely project and agreed with the proposed approach to begin the effort with a broad mindset to consider the spectrum of possibilities and then narrow the scope based on established criteria. Some members expressed the need to be sensitive to the importance of meeting financial statement user needs that current guidance does not already address and cautioned that an overly broad scope could be burdensome to preparers. 

Staff will form a task force to research and consider all of the potential intangible assets throughout federal agencies. The task force will consist of financial statement users, preparers, and auditors, as well as relevant operational and technical experts. 

Briefing materials – TAB E