Peer Review is a periodic independent qualified third party evaluation of a CPA firm’s accounting and auditing (A&A) practice. It was established by the AICPA almost 30 years ago as a membership requirement for member firms with an A&A practice. Firms enrolled in the AICPA practice monitoring program are required to have a peer review every three years.
Effective January 1, 2012, New York State made peer review a licensing requirement for most firms performing a review, audit or attestation services in NYS. The State program is referred to as mandatory quality review (MQR). NYS accepts a "review performed under AICPA peer review standards as meeting its requirements for a “Quality Review.”
There are two types of peer reviews:
- A System Review includes determining whether the firm’s system of quality control for its A&A practice is designed and complied with to provide the firm with reasonable assurance of performing and reporting in conformity with applicable professional standards in all material respects. This type of review is for firms that perform engagements under the Statement on Auditing Standards (SAS) the Government Auditing Standards (Yellow Book), examinations under the Statement on Standards for Attestation Engagements (SSAEs), or engagements under the PCAOB standards as their highest level of service. The reviewer, referred to as a Team Captain, tests, among other things, a reasonable cross-section of the firm’s engagements with a focus on high-risk engagements as well as significant risk areas for non high risk engagements.
- An Engagement Review is for enrolled firms that perform services under SSARS or services under the SSAEs that do not require a system review. Engagement reviews are designed to determine whether engagements submitted for review are performed and reported on in conformity with applicable professional standards in all material respects.
Both types of reviews culminate in a report. For system reviews, the report states whether the firm’s quality control system provides reasonable assurance of conforming to professional standards in all material respects. For an engagement review, the report states whether the firm's engagements tested by the reviewer conform in all material respects with professional standards.
The NYSSCPA administers peer reviews for the AICPA and administers peer reviews for non-AICPA member firms that are (1) required to have a quality review for NYS licensing purposes or (2) who volunteer to have a quality review.