The audit organization’s management must assign auditors to conduct the engagement who before beginning work on the engagement collectively possess the competence needed to address the engagement objectives and perform their work in accordance with GAGAS.
The audit organization’s management must assign auditors who before beginning work on the engagement possess the competence needed for their assigned roles.
The audit organization should have a process for recruitment, hiring, continuous development, assignment, and evaluation of personnel so that the workforce has the essential knowledge, skills, and abilities necessary to conduct the engagement. The nature, extent, and formality of the process will depend on various factors, such as the size of the audit organization, its structure, and its work.
Application Guidance: General
Competence is the knowledge, skills, and abilities, obtained from education and experience, necessary to conduct the GAGAS engagement. Competence enables auditors to make sound professional judgments. Competence includes possessing the technical knowledge and skills necessary for the assigned role and the type of work being done. This includes possessing specific knowledge about GAGAS.
Competence is derived from a combination of education and experience. Education is a structured and systematic process aimed at developing knowledge, skills, and other abilities; it is a process that is typically but not exclusively conducted in academic or learning environments. Experience refers to workplace activities that are relevant to developing professional proficiency. Competence is not necessarily measured by years of auditing experience because such a quantitative measurement may not accurately reflect the kinds of experiences gained by auditors in any given time period. Maintaining competence through a commitment to learning and development throughout auditors’ professional lives is an important element for auditors.
Application Guidance: Indicators of Competence
Technical Knowledge and Skills
The knowledge, skills, and abilities needed when conducting an engagement in accordance with GAGAS include the understanding necessary to proficiently apply
standards, statutory requirements, regulations, criteria, and guidance applicable to auditing or the objectives for the engagement(s) being conducted; and
techniques, tools, and guidance related to professional expertise applicable to the work being performed.
Auditor proficiency in these areas helps ensure that engagements are conducted in accordance with GAGAS.
Achieving the knowledge, skills, and abilities needed to conduct a GAGAS engagement may include
having prior experience in the subject matter or type of engagement;
completing CPE related to the subject matter or type of engagement; and
obtaining degrees or certifications relevant to the subject matter or type of engagement.
Competence for Assigned Roles
The audit organization and engagement teams may consider the levels of proficiency needed for each role on the engagement when assigning auditors to the engagement.
Roles on the engagement generally include the following:
- Nonsupervisory auditors: Auditors in these roles plan or perform engagement procedures. Work situations for these auditors are characterized by low levels of ambiguity, complexity, and uncertainty. The nonsupervisory auditor role necessitates at least a basic level of proficiency.
- Supervisory auditors: Auditors in these roles plan engagements, perform engagement procedures, or direct engagements. Work situations for these auditors are characterized by moderate levels of ambiguity, complexity, and uncertainty. The supervisory auditor role necessitates at least an intermediate level of proficiency.
- Partners and directors: Auditors in these roles plan engagements, perform engagement procedures, or direct or report on engagements. Partners and directors may also be responsible for reviewing engagement quality prior to issuing the report, for signing the report, or both. Work situations for these auditors are characterized by high levels of ambiguity, complexity, and uncertainty. The partner and director role necessitates an advanced level of proficiency.
Definitions of key terms follow:
- Planning: Determining engagement objectives, scope, and methodology; establishing criteria to evaluate matters subject to audit; or coordinating the work of the other audit organizations. This definition excludes auditors whose role is limited to gathering information used in planning the engagement.
- Directing: Supervising the efforts of others who are involved in accomplishing the objectives of the engagement or reviewing engagement work to determine whether those objectives have been accomplished.
- Performing engagement procedures: Performing tests and procedures necessary to accomplish the engagement objectives in accordance with GAGAS.
- Reporting: Determining the report content and substance or reviewing reports to determine whether the engagement objectives have been accomplished and the evidence supports the report’s technical content and substance prior to issuance. This includes signing the report.
The engagement team should determine that specialists assisting the engagement team on a GAGAS engagement are qualified and competent in their areas of specialization.
Application Guidance: Specialists
Some engagements may necessitate the use of specialized techniques or methods that call for the skills of specialists. Specialists do not include individuals with special skill or knowledge related to specialized areas within the field of accounting or auditing, such as income taxation and information technology. Such individuals are considered auditors.
The competence and qualifications of specialists significantly affect whether their work will be adequate for the engagement team’s purposes and will meet GAGAS requirements. Competence of specialists relates to the nature and level of expertise. Qualifications of specialists relate to their professional certifications, reputations, and previous work in the subject matter. Other relevant factors include the ability of specialists to exercise competence in the circumstances of the engagement and the effects that bias, conflict of interest, or the influence of others may have on the specialists’ professional judgment.
Sources that may inform the auditors’ assessment of the competence and professional qualifications of a specialist include the following:
the professional certification, license, or other recognition of the competence of the specialist in his or her field, as appropriate;
the reputation and standing of the specialist in the views of peers and others familiar with the specialist’s capability or performance;
the specialist’s experience and previous work in the subject matter;
the auditors’ assessment of the specialist’s knowledge and qualification based on prior experience in using the specialist’s work;
the specialist’s knowledge of any technical performance standards or other professional or industry requirements in the specialist’s field (for example, ethical standards and other membership requirements of a professional body or industry association, accreditation standards of a licensing body, or requirements imposed by law or regulation);
the knowledge of the specialist with respect to relevant auditing standards; and
the assessment of unexpected events, changes in conditions, or the evidence obtained from the results of engagement procedures that indicate it may be necessary to reconsider the initial evaluation of the competence and qualifications of a specialist as the engagement progresses.