United States

Proposed revisions to Government Auditing Standards


The United States Government Accountability Office (GAO) is seeking comment on Government Auditing Standards - 2017 Exposure Draft. The 2017 exposure draft is a modernized version of Government Auditing Standards that takes into account developments in the auditing, accountability and financial management professions. Per the GAO, some of the major proposed changes from the 2011 revision include the following, among others:

  • Chapters are presented in a revised format; chapters are reorganized and realigned; and supplemental guidance from the 2011 appendix is removed or incorporated.
  • The independence requirements for the auditor when the engaging party differs from the responsible party are further explained, and examples of when this could occur are provided. Also, guidance related to professional services in government is further explained, and examples are provided.
  • The Standard is expanded to state that any services performed by auditors related to preparing accounting records and financial statements, other than those defined as impairments to independence, create significant threats to auditors’ independence and that auditors should document the threats and safeguards applied to eliminate and reduce the threats to an acceptable level or decline to perform the services.
  • The requirements for continuing professional education (CPE) are revised to promote greater proficiency in generally accepted government auditing standards (GAGAS). This includes (a) introducing a new four-hour CPE requirement in GAGAS topics, required each time a new version of GAGAS is issued; (b) providing application guidance about the CPE topics required under the 80-hour GAGAS CPE requirements; and (c) detailing exemptions that may be granted to auditors in certain circumstances.
  • The Standard is expanded to define waste and add requirements for reporting or communicating waste that auditors become aware of during audits.
  • American Institute of Certified Public Accountants Statement on Standards for Attestation Engagements 18, Attestation Standards: Clarification and Recodification, and Statement on Standards for Accounting and Review Services 21, section 90, Review of Financial Statements, are incorporated into GAGAS for auditors conducting attestation engagements and reviews of financial statements, respectively.
  • Internal control requirements and guidance are updated to align with the revised Standards for Internal Control in the Federal Government and Internal Control – Integrated Framework.

Brian Schebler, RSM’s National Director of Public Sector Services, is a member of the Comptroller General’s Advisory Council and welcomes any comments or questions relative to the proposed changes.

The Exposure Draft is available for review and public comment until July 6, 2017.