Proposed Changes to CPA Profession’s Peer Review Program

Comments on Exposure Draft due by January 31, 2016

November 18, 2015

NEW YORK (Nov. 18, 2015) – The American Institute of CPAs’(AICPA) Peer Review Board has issued an exposure draft outlining proposed changes to the AICPA’s current standards for performing and reporting on peer reviews.

The proposals would enhance the focus of reviewed firms on the proper design and operating effectiveness of their systems of quality control. They are also intended to reinforce the need for adequate planning and preparation for a peer review by firms and peer reviewers alike to allow sufficient time for proper identification of systemic causes and appropriate remediation, when necessary.

The AICPA Peer Review Program monitors the quality of reviewed firms’ accounting and auditing engagements and evaluates the systems under which those engagements are performed. Participation in the peer review program is mandatory for AICPA membership. In addition, peer review is now required for licensure in nearly all states.

The Peer Review Board last year approved a plan to implement substantive changes to the current peer review process. The changes are part of the AICPA’s Enhancing Audit Quality (EAQ) initiative. Under the EAQ, the AICPA earlier this year issued a Six-Point Plan to Improve Audits, whose peer review enhancements include testing of firms’ controls to identify risks to audit quality.

“This exposure draft is another step in our continuing holistic initiative to further the profession’s efforts to move the audit quality needle,” said James Brackens, CPA, CGMA, the Institute’s vice president for ethics and practice quality. “We encourage all stakeholders to review and comment on the proposals.”

The proposed changes are as follows:

  • Enhance the peer review of the firm’s system of quality control to better assist the team captain and firm in identifying systemic causes and appropriate remediation of nonconforming engagements and systemic weaknesses
  • Supplement the existing guidance for peer reviewer, reviewed firm, technical reviewer and Report Acceptance Body responsibilities for nonconforming engagements
  • Clarify the timing of when results of the peer review should be communicated to the firm to allow time for the firm to identify appropriate remediation
  • Clarify the guidance for drafting descriptions of findings, deficiencies, and significant deficiencies
  • Clarify the peer review report model and provide greater transparency on the results of the review
  • Clarify the required firm representations for System and Engagement Reviews
  • Clarify information the AICPA and administering entities may provide about a review to third parties

Comments are welcomed until January 31, 2016. They may be submitted to