Description of FASB Projects Discussed January 9, 2002

The following project descriptions were excerpted from materials made public at the FASB meeting on January 9, 2002.

1. Revenue recognition. The proposed project would have two principal goals: (1) enhancing the authoritative and conceptual guidance for recognizing revenues, and (2) refining the conceptual guidance for defining and recognizing liabilities. The FASB project would lead to the issuance of a new accounting standard on revenue recognition that would apply to business entities generally. Because of the need for that standard to be based on sound conceptual guidance, the project also likely would lead to the amendment of FASB Concepts Statement No. 5, Recognition and Measurement in the; Financial Statements of Business Enterprises, to enhance the criteria for recognizing revenues and liabilities, and FASB Concepts Statement No.6, Elements of Financial Statements, to clarify the definition of liabilities.

2. Intangibles. The proposed scope of the potential project focuses on disclosure about intangible assets that are not recognized in statements of financial position but would have been recognized if acquired either separately or in a business combination under the standards in FASB Statement No. 141, Business Combinations, and FASB Statement No. 142, Goodwill and Other Intangible Assets.

3. Standards Overload. In the 2001 annual survey of the Financial Accounting Standards Advisory Committee (FASAC survey), constituents were asked to prioritize the activities of the FASB. Among the potential future agenda priorities included in that survey was a project to address the issue of "standards overload." As described in the FASAC survey, the subject of standards overload encompasses a number of separate but related issues, including: (a) An increase in the volume and sources of standard-setting activity, (b) The lack of retrievability of all the accounting rules on a particular subject, (c) The complexity and detail of accounting standards, and (d) Disclosure overload. In response to the FASAC survey, many constituents indicated that a project on codifying/simplifying the accounting literature should be a high priority of the Board.

The staff developed the following projects for the Board's consideration.

  1. Develop a disclosure framework.
  2. Develop a two-tiered disclosure system.
  3. Codify the Current Text following one of three approaches: (a) fully integrate; (b) incorporate and reference (c) reference only.
  4. Codify only certain accounting topics.
  5. Incorporate amendments in the Original Pronouncements.
  6. Expand FARS to include AICPA and SEC literature.
  7. Require new Statements to incorporate or eliminate existing related literature.
  8. Issue Statements that are principle-based rather than ruled-based (less detail, no exceptions or alternatives).
  9. Redefine the roles of standard-setting (and regulatory) bodies.
  10. Elevate the discussion of the costs of applying proposed Statements.
  11. Require periodic reviews of new Statements.
  12. Perform a comprehensive review of the literature to ensure consistency.
  13. Simplify the more complex standards.
  14. Make the Current Text the authoritative body of accounting literature.

While each possible work effort is referred to as a project, most are not like the normal FASB technical project. In fact, most of the potential projects are more like initiatives, some of which have been discussed in the past as part of the FASB' s strategic planning efforts.

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