Proposed SSAE would increase flexibility for practitioners in performing attestation engagements

By Ken Tysiac

A standard proposed Wednesday by the AICPA Auditing Standards Board would change the terminology for what has been known as a “review engagement” in addition to making other significant changes.

The most important aspects of the proposed Statement on Standards for Attestation Engagements, Revisions to SSAE No. 18, Clarification and Recodification, include that it would:

  • No longer require the practitioner to request a written assertion from the responsible party when the practitioner is reporting directly on the subject matter or performing an agreed-upon procedures engagement.
  • More closely harmonize AT-C Section 210, Review Engagements, with the limited assurance provisions of International Standard on Assurance Engagements 3000 (Revised), Assurance Engagements Other Than Audits and Reviews of Historical Financial Information, including changing the term “review engagement” to “limited assurance engagement.” The proposed revisions to AT-C Section 210 more explicitly describe the types of procedures a practitioner may perform in a limited assurance engagement. These procedures are much the same as the procedures a practitioner may perform in an examination engagement, except that the nature, timing, and extent of those procedures are tailored to a limited assurance engagement. Finally, the proposed revisions to AT-C Section 210 would require that the practitioner’s report include an informative summary of the work performed as a basis for the practitioner’s conclusion.
  • Revise the agreed-upon procedures section by:
    • No longer requiring that all the parties to the engagement (the engaging party, the responsible party [where applicable], and users of the practitioner’s report) agree to the procedures to be performed and, therefore, take responsibility for their sufficiency. Instead, the proposed revision would require that the engaging party acknowledge, prior to the issuance of the report, the appropriateness of the procedures for the intended purpose of the engagement, and would explicitly allow the practitioner to develop, or assist in developing, the procedures.
    • Allowing the practitioner to issue a general use report, unless the procedures are prescribed and the practitioner is precluded from designing or performing additional procedures, or the criteria are not available to users or are suitable only for a limited number of users.

The proposal would supersede AT-C Sections 105, Concepts Common to All Attestation Engagements; 205, Examination Engagements; 210; and 215, Agreed-Upon Procedures Engagements.

Public comment can be submitted to Sherry Hazel at Sherry.Hazel@aicpa-cima.com by Oct. 11

Ken Tysiac (Kenneth.Tysiac@aicpa-cima.com) is a JofA editorial director.

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