GAO Releases Proposed Changes to Yellow Book Auditing Standards

Chris Gaetano
Published Date:
Apr 6, 2017

The Government Accountability Office (GAO) released today its proposed changes for Government Auditing Standards, also known as the Yellow Book, which is meant to take into account new developments in accounting, auditing and financial review since 2011, the last time the standards received a major revision. Proposed changes include:
  1.  Chapters are presented in a revised format; chapters are reorganized and realigned; and supplemental guidance from the 2011 appendix is removed or incorporated.

  2. The independence requirements of the auditor when the engaging party differs from the responsible party are further explained, and examples of when this could occur are provided. Also, guidance related to professional services in government is further explained, and examples are provided.

  3. Standard is expanded to state that any services performed by auditors related to preparing accounting records and financial statements, other than those defined as impairments to independence, create significant threats to auditors’ independence and that auditors should document the threats and safeguards applied to eliminate and reduce the threats to an acceptable level or decline to perform the services.

  4. The requirements for continuing professional education (CPE) are revised to promote greater proficiency in generally accepted government auditing standards (GAGAS). This includes (a) introducing a new 4-hour CPE requirement in GAGAS topics, required each time a new version of GAGAS is issued; (b) providing application guidance about the CPE topics required under the 80-hour GAGAS CPE requirements; and (c) detailing exemptions that may be granted to auditors in certain circumstances.

  5. The standards for peer review are expanded and include new requirements and guidance on various areas, such as directing audit organizations to comply with the requirements of certain recognized peer review organizations for audit organizations affiliated with such peer review organizations.

  6. Standard is expanded to define waste and add requirements for reporting or communicating waste that auditors become aware of during audits.

  7. Statement on Standards for Attestation Engagements No. 18, Attestation Standards: Clarification and Recodification, and Statement on Standards for Accounting and Review Services No. 21, section 90 (Review of Financial Statements), are incorporated into GAGAS for auditors conducting attestation engagements and reviews of financial statements, respectively.

  8. Internal control requirements and guidance are updated to align with the revised Standards for Internal Control in the Federal Government and Internal Control – Integrated Framework.
To weigh in on the proposed changes, the GAO requests that letters be sent to GAO’s Yellow Book Comments inbox at no later than July 6, 2017.

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