AICPA's Reforms Improving Quality of Private Firms' Audits

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By Laura Tieger Salisbury

Sept. 12 — Better quality control tools, resources, training in critical thinking, and peer review programs have all contributed to improved quality of private company audits, according to the American Institute of CPA's 2016 progress report, issued Sept. 12.

Susan Coffey, the AICPA's executive vice president for public practice, said that “new industry-specific training programs focus on competency development—that is, applying knowledge and skills—and related certificate programs help highly competent auditors distinguish themselves in the marketplace.”

Beyond Compliance

According to the Sept. 12 progress report, “Enhancing Audit Quality Initiative,” the AICPA has progressed in its goal of increasing audit quality by providing both new and experienced auditors with tools and training to assist them to become more knowledgeable and competent in different subject practice areas.

Highlights of the AICPA's efforts will be visible in the:

  •  audit firms' improved quality control systems (11 APPR 1071, 11/20/15);
  •  next Uniform CPA exam, in April 2017, which has increased the focus on critical thinking, problem-solving and analytical ability;
  •  CPA Learning and Support website to assist auditors in many different areas;
  •  Peer Review Program in which firms that fail to fix identified problems will be dropped from the program (12 APPR 17, 8/26/16);
  •  Enhanced Oversight Program which includes root cause analysis designed to determine which quality control policies and procedures have the strongest correlation to audit quality;
  •  in-development AICPA Audit Data Analytics Guide that will update the existing AICPA Analytical Procedures Guide; and
  •  Practice Monitoring of the Future—the “dashboard” that will allow firms to replace reviewing outdated audit information with a close to “real time” monitoring tool that detects problems and allows an audit firm to self-correct its problems while engagement in progress complete (11 APPR 48, 1/2/15).

The AICPA launched its “Enhancing Audit Quality” project in May 2014 (10 APPR 752, 8/15/14) with suggested major practice reforms including sanctions and expulsion.

To contact the reporter on this story: Laura Tieger Salisbury in Washington at

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Ali Sartipzadeh at

For More Information

The full report is on the AICPA website at AICPA Enhancing Audit Quality Initiative, Highlights and Progress 2016 report

The AICPA | CIMA Competency and Learning Website is at

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