Proposal would pave the way for a new attestation service

By Ken Tysiac and Mike Glynn, CPA, CGMA

A proposal issued Friday by the AICPA Accounting and Review Services Committee (ARSC) would result in flexibility provided to practitioners in performing and reporting on a procedures and findings service.

Under Proposed Statement on Standards for Attestation Engagements, Selected Procedures, practitioners would be permitted to perform procedures and report in a procedures and findings format beyond what's currently provided by AT-C Section 215, Agreed-Upon Procedures Engagements.

In a selected procedures engagement as proposed, a practitioner would be permitted to determine the procedures to be performed, and no party would be required to take responsibility for the sufficiency of the procedures.

This would allow the practitioner to perform the engagement when the specified parties may not be able or willing to fully develop or determine procedures without having to perform a separate consulting services engagement.

The project was initiated to address a need to fill in a significant market gap that exists between what a practitioner can do as a "verifier" (in accordance with the current standards) and "adviser" (in accordance with current consulting standards). By not requiring an assertion, or setting an expectation that the engaging party had previously performed the procedures, practitioners will often be in the position of performing the initial measurement, and not just being in the role of verifier that is typically the case in an engagement performed in accordance with the SSAEs.

Therefore, users of CPA services will benefit from a new service. For example, the market currently is limited in benefiting from a CPAs' services when:

  • The engaging party may not be in a position to make an assertion.
  • It may not be possible or appropriate for the engaging party to perform the initial measurement.
  • All users may not have the same objective or be able to agree to the sufficiency of the procedures.
  • The practitioner may not know what procedures to perform prior to commencement of the engagement.
  • There is a need for a general-use report.

The practitioner's report on specified procedures may be beneficial to and used by a broad number of parties as opposed to being restricted to just specified parties that provide acknowledgement of the sufficiency of the procedures. Each user of the specified procedures report would make his or her own determination on how the report is to be used and relied upon based upon the procedures performed and the results of the procedures.

The proposal is a joint effort of ARSC and the AICPA Auditing Standards Board, and its effective date will not be earlier than for reports dated on or after May 1, 2019. Comments may be submitted to Mike Glynn at Mike.Glynn@aicpa-cima.com by Dec. 1.

Ken Tysiac (Kenneth.Tysiac@aicpa-cima.com) is a JofA editorial director. Mike Glynn is senior manager–Audit & Attest Standards Team–Public Accounting, Association of International Certified Professional Accountants.  

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