Chapter 7: Standards for Attestation Engagements and Reviews of Financial Statements
This chapter contains requirements and guidance for conducting and reporting on attestation engagements and reviews of financial statements conducted in accordance with generally accepted government auditing standards (GAGAS). For attestation engagements, GAGAS incorporates by reference the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants’ (AICPA) Statements on Standards for Attestation Engagements (SSAE). For reviews of financial statements, GAGAS incorporates by reference AICPA’s AR-C section 90, Review of Financial Statements.54 All sections of the cited standards are incorporated, including the introduction, objectives, definitions, requirements, and application and other explanatory material. GAGAS does not incorporate the AICPA Code of Professional Conduct by reference but recognizes that certain certified public accountants (CPA) may use or may be required to use the code in conjunction with GAGAS.55 For attestation engagements and reviews of financial statements conducted in accordance with GAGAS, the requirements and guidance in the respective incorporated standards and this chapter apply. The requirements and guidance contained in chapters 1 through 5 also apply.
An attestation engagement can provide one of three levels of service as defined by the AICPA: an examination engagement, a review engagement, or an agreed-upon procedures engagement.
The AICPA standards used in conjunction with GAGAS require auditors to establish an understanding with the audited entity regarding the services to be performed for each attestation engagement or review of financial statements. Such an understanding reduces the risk that either the auditors or the audited entity may misinterpret the needs or expectations of the other party. The understanding includes the objectives of the engagement, responsibilities of audited entity management, responsibilities of auditors, and limitations of the engagement.56
Auditors often conduct GAGAS engagements under a contract with a party other than the officials of the audited entity or pursuant to a third-party request. In such cases, auditors may also find it appropriate to communicate information regarding the services to be performed to the individuals contracting for or requesting the engagement. Such an understanding can help auditors avoid any misunderstandings regarding the nature of the review or agreed-upon procedures engagement. For example, a review engagement only provides limited assurance, and as a result, auditors do not perform sufficient work to be able to develop elements of a finding or provide recommendations that are common in other types of GAGAS engagements. An agreed-upon procedures engagement does not provide an opinion or conclusion, and as a result, auditors do not perform sufficient work to be able to develop elements of a finding or provide recommendations that are common in other types of GAGAS engagements. Consequently, requesting parties may find that a different type of attestation engagement or a performance audit may provide the appropriate level of assurance to meet their needs.
AICPA, Professional Standards.↩︎
See para. .08 of AT-C section 205, Assertion-Based Examination Engagements, para. .09 of AT-C section 206, Direct Examination Engagements, para. .09 of AT-C section 210, Review Engagements, and para. .15 of AT-C section 215, Agreed-Upon Procedures Engagements; and para. .16 of AR-C section 90, Review of Financial Statements (AICPA, Professional Standards).↩︎