Establishing the Estimated Useful Lives of Capital Assets

Best Practice
Approved by GFOA's Executive Board: 
January 2010

The best source of relevant information on the estimated useful lives of a government’s capital assets normally is its own past experience with similar assets. In situations where the documentation of a government’s own past experience for a given type of capital asset is not adequate for this purpose, a government should profit as much as possible from the experience of other governments and private-sector enterprises. At the same time, a government should make whatever adjustments are needed to estimated useful lives that were obtained from others to ensure that such estimates are appropriate to its own particular circumstances. It is especially important that a government consider the potential effect of each of the following factors when depending on the experience of others: