Institute Launches Employee Benefit Plan Audit Quality Center

CPAs now can go to a single source for guidance on performing high-quality audits and to interact with peers.

he Institute has taken significant steps over the years to strengthen the quality of audits to protect the public interest. Its latest action in this ongoing program is the creation of the Employee Benefit Plan Audit Quality Center, which focuses on strengthening audits of benefit plans. To be as efficient and effective as possible, the center provides a single access point where members can learn about the latest developments in employee benefit plan audits—and communicate with other member firms.

The audit quality center will make a significant contribution to raising performance expectations of CPA firms performing benefit plan audits. The Institute also plans to launch a Government Audit Quality Center this summer as part of its broader effort to deliver tools and techniques to members in their efforts to provide high-quality audits.

The activities of the Employee Benefit Plan Audit Quality Center will be directed by a center executive committee appointed by S. Scott Voynich, AICPA board chairman. According to Voynich: “This center provides a forum that spurs CPA firms performing audits to make immediate quality improvements to employee benefit plan audits under the Employee Retirement Income Security Act (ERISA). In addition to gaining access to best practices, guidance and tools focusing on quality improvement, members of the center will be subject to requirements that demonstrate each firm’s commitment to audit quality in this area.”

“The center is intended to make a direct statement to members of our profession about the importance of their audit performance,” said Susan Coffey, vice-president of audit quality and professional ethics. “It will give members the tools they need to adhere to a high standard of quality. And it will be a place where firms dedicated to quality auditing of benefit plans will share best practices, learn about emerging issues and take steps to enhance quality in their practices.”

This center has begun accepting member applications. For more information go to www.aicpa.org/ebpaqc/homepage.htm .

WHAT IT IS
The center will create a community of firms committed to performing quality employee benefit plan audits, including defined benefit, defined contribution and health and welfare benefit plans. It will provide a comprehensive resource for member firms and others in the employee benefit plan arena. The center’s Web site is www.aicpa.org/ebpaqc/homepage.htm .

WHAT IT OFFERS
The center provides enhanced resources to CPA firms that audit employee benefit plans. The objectives of the center are to

Draw together CPA firms with a common interest in performing high-quality audits.

Provide comprehensive resources for member firms.

Assemble center members in online forums for sharing best practices.

Deliver periodic updates on audit, accounting and regulatory issues through news alerts and webcasts.

Create a single voice representing firm interests in performing quality employee benefit plan audits.

Raise awareness of the importance of employee benefit plan audits.

Offer information about the center’s activities to employee benefit plan stakeholders.

WHO CAN JOIN
Membership is open to CPA firms that meet the center’s eligibility requirements.

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