Clarified Statements on Standards for Attestation Engagements
To address concerns over the clarity, length, and complexity of its standards, the Auditing Standards Board (ASB) established clarity drafting conventions and undertook a project to redraft all the standards it issues in clarity format. These sections now reflect the ASB’s established clarity drafting conventions designed to make the standards easier to read, understand, and apply.
The redrafting of Statements on Standards for Attestation Engagements (SSAEs or attestation standards) in SSAE No. 18, Attestation Standards: Clarification and Recodification, issued in April 2016,represents the culmination of that process. SSAE No. 18 redrafts all SSAEs with the exception of SSAE No. 10 chapter 7 (retained as AT-C section 395 in unclarified format until further notice) and SSAE No. 15 (guidance moved to AU-C section 940 with the issuance of Statement on Auditing Standards No. 130).
As part of the clarification of the SSAEs, the AT section numbers as designated by SSAE Nos. 1-17 were recodified and "AT-C" was selected as and identifier in order to avoid confusion with superseded "AT" sections. Superseded “AT” sections were deleted from AICPA Professional Standards in June 2017, by which time substantially all engagements for which the “AT” sections were still effective were expected to be completed.
Below are the standards and related interpretations that are current as of June 1, 2021.
|Original Standard No.||Title & Synopsis||Section in Professional Standards||Interpretations (if applicable)|
|SSAE No. 18||Concepts Common to All Attestation Engagements||AT-C sec. 105A||AT-C sec. 9105A|
|Examination Engagements||AT-C sec. 205A||AT-C sec. 9205A|
|Review Engagements||AT-C sec. 210A|
|Agreed-Upon Procedures Engagements||AT-C sec. 215A||AT-C sec. 9215A|
|Prospective Financial Information
This section contains performance and reporting requirements and application guidance for a practitioner examining or performing agreed-upon procedures on prospective financial information.
|AT-C sec. 305|
|Reporting on Pro Forma Financial Information
This section contains performance and reporting requirements and application guidance for a practitioner examining or reviewing pro forma financial information.
|AT-C sec. 310|
This section contains performance and reporting requirements and application guidance for a practitioner.
|AT-C sec. 315|
|Reporting on an Examination of Controls at a Service Organization Relevant to User Entities' Internal Control Over Financial Reporting
This section contains performance and reporting requirements and application guidance for a service auditor examining controls at organizations that provide services to user entities when those controls are likely to be relevant to user entities' internal control over financial reporting. It complements AU-C section 402, Audit Considerations Relating to an Entity Using a Service Organization, in that a service auditor's report prepared in accordance with this section may provide appropriate evidence under AU-C section 402.
|AT-C sec. 320|
|[Designated for AT Section 701, Management's Discussion and Analysis]
This section sets forth attestation standards and provides guidance to a practitioner concerning the performance of an attest engagement with respect to management's discussion and analysis (MD&A) prepared pursuant to the rules and regulations adopted by the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), which are presented in annual reports to shareholders and in other documents.
|AT-C sec. 395|
|SSAE No. 19||Agreed-Upon Procedures Engagements
SSAE No. 19 provides flexibility to a practitioner’s ability to perform an agreed-upon procedures engagement by: removing the requirement that the practitioner request a written assertion from the responsible party; allowing procedures to be developed over the course of the engagement; allowing the practitioner to assist in developing the procedures; no longer requiring intended users to take responsibility for the sufficiency of the procedures and instead requiring the engaging party to acknowledge the appropriateness of the procedures prior to the issuance of the practitioner’s report; and allowing the practitioner to issue a general-use report.
|AT-C sec. 105A||AT-C sec. 9105A|
|AT-C sec. 215|
|SSAE No. 20||Amendments to the Description of the Concept of Materiality
SSAE No. 20 amends various AT-C sections to align the materiality concepts discussed in AICPA Professional Standards with the description of materiality used by the U.S. judicial system, the auditing standards of the PCAOB, the SEC, and the FASB. The ASB believes it is in the public interest to eliminate inconsistencies between the AICPA Professional Standards and the description of materiality used by the U.S. judicial system and other U.S. standard setters and regulators. The ASB also believes that, because the revised definition is aligned with the FASB, the revised description is substantially consistent with current U.S. firm practices with respect to determining and applying materiality in an audit or attest engagement and accordingly U.S. practice is neither expected nor intended to change.
|AT-C sec. 205A||AT-C sec. 9205A|
|AT-C sec. 210A|
|SSAE No. 21||Direct Examination Engagements
SSAE No. 21-created section AT-C section 206 enables practitioners to measure or evaluate underlying subject matter against criteria and express an examination opinion that conveys the results of that measurement or evaluation (a direct examination). In this new direct examination engagement, the responsible party is not required to measure or evaluate the underlying subject matter against criteria and the practitioner is not required to obtain a written assertion from the responsible party; however, the responsible party continues to be required to acknowledge responsibility for the underlying subject matter.
SSAE No. 22
SSAE No. 22 describes the types of procedures a practitioner may perform in a review engagement, requires that the practitioner’s report include an informative summary of the work performed as a basis for the practitioner’s conclusion, and permits the expression of an adverse conclusion.
Standards Setting Bodies
- Accounting and Review Services Committee
- Auditing Standards Board
- Federal Accounting Standards Advisory Board
- Financial Accounting Standards Board
- Governmental Accounting Standards Board
- Public Company Accounting Oversight Board
- International Accounting Standards Board
- International Auditing and Assurance Standards Board