Annual report pursuant to Section 13 and 15(d)

Revenue Recognition

Revenue Recognition
12 Months Ended
Sep. 30, 2021
Revenue from Contract with Customer [Abstract]  
The Company recognizes revenue as, or when, we satisfy performance obligations under a contract. The majority of our contracts have performance obligations which are satisfied over time. In most cases, we view our performance obligations as promises to transfer a series of distinct services to our customers that are substantially the same and which have the same pattern of service. We recognize revenue over the performance period as a customer receives the benefits of our services.
Disaggregation of Revenue
In addition to our segment reporting, we disaggregate our revenues by service, contract type, customer type, and geography. Our operating segments represent the manner in which our Chief Executive Officer reviews our financial results, which is further discussed in "Note 3. Business Segments."
Table 4.1: Revenue by Operating Segment and Service
For the Year Ended September 30,
2021 2020 2019
(in thousands)
U.S. Services
Program administration $ 1,154,939  $ 945,125  $ 883,772 
Assessments and appeals 138,297  141,446  136,109 
Employment and children services 320,653  191,061  100,454 
Other 48,221  51,642  56,153 
Total U.S. Services 1,662,110  1,329,274  1,176,488 
U.S. Federal Services
Program administration 1,273,850  1,288,741  779,573 
Technology solutions 278,232  169,259  160,342 
Assessments and appeals 341,202  175,337  171,282 
Total U.S. Federal Services 1,893,284  1,633,337  1,111,197 
Outside the U.S.
Workforce services 358,088  206,657  272,801 
Assessments and appeals 225,314  218,704  252,447 
Program administration 107,643  66,002  63,734 
Other 8,046  7,563  10,148 
Total Outside the U.S. 699,091  498,926  599,130 
Total revenue $ 4,254,485  $ 3,461,537  $ 2,886,815 
During fiscal year 2021, management changed the manner in which the products and services within the U.S. Services Segment are viewed. Accordingly, the business lines have been updated and historical balances adjusted to reflect our updated view of the business.
Table 4.2: Revenue by Contract Type
For the Year Ended September 30,
2021 2020 2019
(in thousands)
Performance-based $ 1,416,562  $ 1,109,153  $ 1,193,075 
Cost-plus 1,237,995  1,578,912  1,088,541 
Fixed price 553,645  471,505  441,146 
Time and materials 1,046,283  301,967  164,053 
Total revenue $ 4,254,485  $ 3,461,537  $ 2,886,815 
Table 4.3: Revenue by Customer Type
For the Year Ended September 30,
2021 2020 2019
(in thousands)
New York State government agencies $ 371,917  $ 355,282  $ 362,724 
Other U.S. state government agencies 1,282,638  988,945  804,213 
Total U.S. state government agencies 1,654,555  1,344,227  1,166,937 
United States Federal Government agencies 1,805,131  1,559,165  1,040,980 
International government agencies 663,180  467,185  558,599 
Other, including local municipalities and commercial customers 131,619  90,960  120,299 
Total revenue $ 4,254,485  $ 3,461,537  $ 2,886,815 
Table 4.4: Revenue by Geography
For the Year Ended September 30,
2021 2020 2019
(in thousands)
United States $ 3,555,394  $ 2,962,611  $ 2,287,685 
United Kingdom 286,432  246,334  293,695 
Australia 244,995  147,156  198,795 
Rest of world 167,664  105,436  106,640 
Total revenue $ 4,254,485  $ 3,461,537  $ 2,886,815 
Contract balances
Differences in timing between revenue recognition and cash collection result in contract assets and contract liabilities. We classify these assets as accounts receivable — billed and billable and unbilled receivables; the liabilities are classified as deferred revenue.
In many contracts, we bill our customers on a monthly basis shortly after the month end for work performed in that month and such balances are considered collectible and are included within accounts receivable — billed and billable.
Exceptions to this pattern will arise for various reasons, including those listed below.
Under cost-plus contracts, we are typically required to estimate a contract's share of our general and administrative expenses. This share is based upon estimates of total costs which may vary over time. We typically invoice our customers at an agreed provisional billing rate which may differ from actual rates incurred. If our actual rates are higher than the provisional billing rates, an asset is recorded for this variance; if the provisional billing rates are higher than our actual rates, we record a liability.
Certain contracts include retainage balances, whereby revenue is earned but some portion of cash payments are held back by the customer for a period of time, typically to allow the customer to confirm the objective criteria laid out by the contract have been met. This balance is classified as accounts receivable - unbilled until restrictions on billing are lifted. As of September 30, 2021 and 2020, $10.4 million and $12.3 million, respectively, of our unbilled receivables related to amounts pursuant to contractual retainage provisions.
In certain contracts, we may receive funds from our customers prior to performing operations. These funds are typically referred to as "set-up costs" and reflect the need for us to make investments in infrastructure prior to providing a service. This investment in infrastructure is not a performance obligation which is distinct from the service that is subsequently provided and, as a result, revenue is not recognized based upon the establishment of this infrastructure, but rather over the course of the contractual relationship. The funds are initially recorded as deferred revenue and recognized over the term of the contract. Other contracts may not include set-up fees but will provide higher fees in earlier periods of the contract. The premium on these fees is deferred.
Some of our contracts, notably our employment services contracts in the Outside the U.S. Segment, include payments for desired outcomes, such as job placement and job retention, and these outcome payments occur over several months. We are required to estimate these outcome fees ahead of their realization and recognize this estimated fee over the period of delivery.
During the year ended September 30, 2021, we recognized revenue of $45.9 million included in our deferred revenue balances at September 30, 2020. During the year ended September 30, 2020, we recognized revenue of $54.6 million included in our deferred revenue balances at September 30, 2019.
Contract estimates
We are required to use estimates in recognizing revenue from some of our contracts. As discussed in "Note 2. Significant Accounting Policies," the calculation of these estimates has been complicated by the COVID-19 pandemic, which has reduced our ability to use past results to estimate future performance.
Some of our performance-based contract revenue is recognized based upon future outcomes defined in each contract. This is the case in many of our employment services contracts in the Outside the U.S. Segment, where we are paid as individuals attain employment goals, which may take many months to achieve. We recognize revenue on these contracts over the period of performance. Our estimates vary from contract to contract but may include estimates of the number of participants, the length of the contract, and the participants reaching employment milestones. We are required to estimate these outcome fees ahead of their collection and recognize this estimated fee over the period of delivery. In almost all of the jurisdictions in which we operate, the employment markets have experienced significant changes due to the COVID-19 pandemic. As the pandemic commenced, many employment opportunities were terminated. Our volume of new program participants is beginning to increase as governments shift their focus to addressing the residual impacts of the pandemic, such as the economy and unemployment, particularly in those countries where the pandemic has stabilized, and economies are beginning to reopen.
Other performance-based contracts with future outcomes include those where we recognize an average effective rate per participant based upon the total volume of expected participants. In this instance, we are required to estimate the amount of discount applied to determine the average rate of revenue per participant. Our revised estimates of participant numbers are based upon our updated evaluation of probable future volumes. During the fiscal years ended September 30, 2021 and 2020, we recognized revenue from these performance-based fees of $104.7 million and $45.0 million, respectively. At September 30, 2021 and 2020, we recorded $48.7 million and $24.8 million, respectively, of these estimated outcome fees which will be collected only when we reach anticipated targets. This balance is included on our consolidated balance sheets within the related contract accounts.
Changes to our estimates are recognized on a cumulative catch-up basis. For the year ended September 30, 2021 we reported a benefit to revenue and diluted earnings per share of $20.9 million and $0.24, respectively, from changes in estimates. The corresponding change in fiscal year 2020 was a reduction in revenue and diluted earnings per share of $9.2 million and $0.10, respectively.
Remaining performance obligations
As of September 30, 2021, we had approximately $550 million of remaining performance obligations. We anticipate that we will recognize revenue on approximately 49% of this balance within the next 12 months. This balance excludes contracts with an original duration of twelve months or less, including contracts with a penalty-free termination for convenience clause, and any variable consideration which is allocated entirely to future performance obligations, including variable transaction fees or fees tied directly to costs incurred.