oversight

Government Auditing Standards: 1999 Revision (Superseded by GAO-03-673G)

Published by the Government Accountability Office on 1999-08-13.

Below is a raw (and likely hideous) rendition of the original report. (PDF)

    Government Auditing Standards

This August 13, 1999 edition of the Government Auditing Standards has
been superseded. For current Government Auditing Standards and related
materials, please see GAO’s Government Auditing Standards web page at
http://www.gao.gov/yellowbook.
Government Auditing Standards



                                                      Table of Contents
Chapter 1: Introduction.....................................................................................................................................1
      Purpose.....................................................................................................................................................1
      Applicability............................................................................................................................................1
      Accountability..........................................................................................................................................2
      Basic Premises.........................................................................................................................................2
      Auditors' Responsibilities........................................................................................................................3
      Procurement of Audit Services................................................................................................................3

Chapter 2: Types of Government Audits..........................................................................................................5
      Purpose.....................................................................................................................................................5
      Financial Audits.......................................................................................................................................5
      Performance Audits.................................................................................................................................6
      Other Activities of An Audit Organization..............................................................................................7

Chapter 3: General Standards...........................................................................................................................9
      Purpose.....................................................................................................................................................9
      Qualifications...........................................................................................................................................9
              Continuing Education Requirements..........................................................................................9
              Staff Qualifications...................................................................................................................10
      Independence.........................................................................................................................................11
              Personal Impairments...............................................................................................................11
              External Impairments................................................................................................................12
              Organizational Independence...................................................................................................13
              Internal Auditors.......................................................................................................................13
              External Auditors......................................................................................................................13
      Due Professional Care............................................................................................................................14
      Quality Control......................................................................................................................................14

Chapter 4: Field Work Standards for Financial Audits...............................................................................17
      Purpose...................................................................................................................................................17
      Relation to AICPA Standards................................................................................................................17
      Planning.................................................................................................................................................18
               Auditor Communication...........................................................................................................18
               Audit Follow-up........................................................................................................................20
      Fraud, Illegal Acts, and Other Noncompliance.....................................................................................20
               Auditors' Understanding of Possible Fraud and of Laws and Regulations..............................21
               Due Care Concerning Possible Fraud and Illegal Acts.............................................................21
               Noncompliance Other Than Illegal Acts..................................................................................21
      Internal Control......................................................................................................................................22
               Safeguarding of Assets.............................................................................................................24
               Control Over Compliance With Laws and Regulations...........................................................25
      Working Papers......................................................................................................................................26
      Financial Related Audits........................................................................................................................26

Chapter 5: Reporting Standards for Financial Audits..................................................................................28
      Purpose...................................................................................................................................................28
      Relation to AICPA Standards................................................................................................................28

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                                                      Table of Contents
            Reporting Compliance with Generally Accepted Government Standards............................................29
            Reporting on Compliance with Laws and Regulations and on Internal Control Over Financial Reporting                                                  0
                    Scope of Compliance and Internal Control Work....................................................................30
                    Fraud, Illegal Acts, and Other Noncompliance........................................................................30
                    Direct Reporting of Fraud and Illegal Acts..............................................................................31
                    Deficiencies in Internal Control................................................................................................32
            Privileged and Confidential Information...............................................................................................33
            Report Distribution................................................................................................................................33
            Financial Related Audits........................................................................................................................34

Chapter 6: Field Work Standards for Performance Audits.........................................................................36
      Purpose...................................................................................................................................................36
      Planning.................................................................................................................................................36
               Significance and User Needs....................................................................................................37
               Understanding the Program......................................................................................................37
               Criteria......................................................................................................................................38
               Audit Follow-Up.......................................................................................................................39
               Considering Others' Work........................................................................................................39
               Staff and Other Resources........................................................................................................40
               Written Audit Plan....................................................................................................................40
      Supervision............................................................................................................................................41
      Compliance with Laws and Regulations................................................................................................41
               Illegal Acts and Other Noncompliance.....................................................................................41
               Abuse........................................................................................................................................43
               Obtaining Information About Laws, Regulations, and Other Compliance Requirements.......43
               Limitations of An Audit............................................................................................................43
      Management Controls............................................................................................................................44
      Evidence.................................................................................................................................................45
               Audit Findings..........................................................................................................................46
               Tests of Evidence......................................................................................................................46
               Working Papers.........................................................................................................................48

Chapter 7: Reporting Standards for Performance Audits...........................................................................50
      Purpose...................................................................................................................................................50
      Form.......................................................................................................................................................50
      Timeliness..............................................................................................................................................50
      Report Contents.....................................................................................................................................51
               Objectives, Scope, and Methodology.......................................................................................51
               Audit Results.............................................................................................................................51
               Recommendations.....................................................................................................................52
               Statement on Auditing Standards.............................................................................................52
               Compliance With Laws and Regulations..................................................................................53
               Management Controls...............................................................................................................54
               Views of Responsible Officials................................................................................................54
               Noteworthy Accomplishments.................................................................................................55
               Issues Needing Further Study...................................................................................................55
               Privileged and Confidential Information..................................................................................55

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                                                 Table of Contents
      Report Presentation................................................................................................................................55
              Complete...................................................................................................................................55
              Accurate....................................................................................................................................56
              Objective...................................................................................................................................56
              Convincing................................................................................................................................56
              Clear..........................................................................................................................................57
              Concise......................................................................................................................................57
      Report Distribution................................................................................................................................57




                                                                                                                                                             iii
                                Chapter 1: Introduction

Purpose
1.1 This document contains standards for audits of government organizations, programs, activities, and
functions, and of government assistance received by contractors, nonprofit organizations, and other
nongovernment organizations. These standards, often referred to as generally accepted government auditing
standards (GAGAS), are to be followed by auditors and audit organizations when required by law, regulation,
agreement, contract, or policy. The standards pertain to auditors' professional qualifications, the quality of
audit effort, and the characteristics of professional and meaningful audit reports.



Applicability
1.2 Federal legislation requires that the federal inspectors general comply with the Comptroller General's
standards for audits of federal organizations, programs, activities, and functions. The legislation further
states that the inspectors general are to ensure that nonfederal auditors comply with these standards when
they audit federal organizations, programs, activities, and functions.1

[NOTE 1: The Inspector General Act of 1978, as amended, 5 U.S.C. App. (1982).]

1.3 Other federal auditors must also follow these standards. The Office of Management and Budget (OMB)
included these standards in OMB Circular A-732 as basic audit criteria for federal executive departments and
agencies.

[NOTE 2: Section 6, "Audit of Federal Operations and Programs"]

1.4 The Chief Financial Officers Act of 1990 requires that these standards be followed in audits of federal
departments and agencies.3

[NOTE 3: The Chief Financial Officers Act of 1990 (Public Law 101-576).]

1.5 The Single Audit Act of 1984 requires that these standards be followed in audits of state and local
governments which receive federal financial assistance.4

[NOTE 4: The Single Audit Act of 1984 (31 U.S.C. 7501-7507)]

1.6 Other federal policies and regulations, such as OMB Circular A-133, require that these standards be
followed in audits of institutions of higher education and other nonprofit organizations that receive federal
financial assistance.5

[NOTE 5: OMB Circular A-133, "Audits of Institutions of Higher Education and Other Nonprofit
Institutions."]

1.7 Auditors conducting audits under agreement or contract also may be required to comply with these
standards under the terms of the agreement or contract.


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Government Auditing Standards


1.8 The standards in this document are generally relevant to and recommended for use by state and local
government auditors and public accountants in audits of state and local government organizations, programs,
activities, and functions. Several state and local audit organizations, as well as several nations, have
officially adopted these standards.

1.9 The American Institute of Certified Public Accountants (AICPA) has issued auditing and attestation
standards that apply in financial audits, as discussed in chapters 4 and 5. The Institute of Internal Auditors
and the American Evaluation Association (formerly the Evaluation Research Society) have issued related
standards.6

[NOTE 6: Codification of the Standards for the Professional Practice of Internal Auditing, The Institute of
Internal Auditors, Inc., copyright 1993; and New Directions for Program Evaluation: Standards for
Evaluation Practice, no. 15. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass, September 1982.]



Accountability
1.10 Our system of managing public programs today rests on an elaborate structure of relationships among all
levels of government. Officials and employees who manage these programs need to render an account of
their activities to the public. While not always specified by law, this accountability concept is inherent in the
governing processes of this nation.

1.11 The need for accountability has caused a demand for more information about government programs and
services. Public officials, legislators, and citizens want and need to know whether government funds are
handled properly and in compliance with laws and regulations. They also want and need to know whether
government organizations, programs, and services are achieving their purposes and whether these
organizations, programs, and services are operating economically and efficiently.

1.12 This document provides auditing standards to help provide accountability and to assist public officials
and employees in carrying out their responsibilities. These standards are more than the codification of
current practices. They include concepts and audit areas that are still evolving and are vital to the
accountability objectives sought in auditing governments and their programs and services.



Basic Premises
1.13 The following premises underlie these standards and were considered in their development.

a. The term "audit" includes both financial and performance audits.

b. Public officials and others entrusted with handling public resources (for example, managers of a
not-for-profit organization that receives federal assistance) are responsible for applying those resources
efficiently, economically, and effectively to achieve the purposes for which the resources were furnished.
This responsibility applies to all resources, whether entrusted to public officials or others by their own
constituencies or by other levels of government.

c. Public officials and others entrusted with public resources are responsible for complying with applicable
laws and regulations. That responsibility encompasses identifying the requirements with which the entity and
the official must comply and implementing systems designed to achieve that compliance.

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Government Auditing Standards


d. Public officials and others entrusted with public resources are responsible for establishing and maintaining
effective controls to ensure that appropriate goals and objectives are met; resources are safeguarded; laws and
regulations are followed; and reliable data are obtained, maintained, and fairly disclosed.

e. Public officials and others entrusted with public resources are accountable both to the public and to other
levels and branches of government for the resources provided to carry out government programs and
services. Consequently, they should provide appropriate reports to those to whom they are accountable.

f. Audit of government reporting is an essential element of public control and accountability. Auditing
provides credibility to the information reported by or obtained from management through objectively
acquiring and evaluating evidence. The importance and comprehensive nature of auditing place a special
responsibility on public officials or others entrusted with public resources who authorize or arrange audits to
be done in accordance with these standards. This responsibility is to provide audit coverage that is broad
enough to help fulfill the reasonable needs of potential users of the audit report. Auditors can assist public
officials and others in understanding the auditors' responsibilities under GAGAS and other audit coverage
required by law or regulation. This comprehensive nature of auditing also highlights the importance of
auditors clearly understanding the audit objectives, the scope of the work to be conducted, and the reporting
requirements.

g. Financial auditing contributes to providing accountability since it provides independent reports on whether
an entity's financial information is presented fairly and/or on its internal controls and compliance with laws
and regulations.

h. Performance auditing contributes to providing accountability because it provides an independent
assessment of the performance of a government organization, program, activity, or function in order to
provide information to improve public accountability and facilitate decision-making by parties with
responsibility to oversee or initiate corrective action.

i. To realize governmental accountability, the citizens, their elected representatives, and program managers
need information to assess the integrity, performance, and stewardship of the government's activities. Thus,
unless legal restrictions or ethical considerations prevent it, audit reports should be available to the public and
to other levels of government that have supplied resources. [NOTE 7: The Single Audit Act (31 U.S.C.
7502(f)) requires that the report on single audits be made available for public inspection.]



Auditors' Responsibilities
1.14 The comprehensive nature of auditing done in accordance with these standards places on the audit
organization the responsibility for ensuring that (1) the audit is conducted by personnel who collectively have
the necessary skills, (2) independence is maintained, (3) applicable standards are followed in planning and
conducting audits and reporting the results, (4) the organization has an appropriate internal quality control
system in place, and (5) the organization undergoes an external quality control review.



Procurement of Audit Services
1.15 While not an audit standard, it is important that a sound procurement practice be followed when
contracting for audit services. Sound contract award and approval procedures, including the monitoring of
contract performance, should be in place. The objectives and scope of the audit should be made clear. In

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Government Auditing Standards


addition to price, other factors to be considered include the responsiveness of the bidder to the request for
proposal; the experience of the bidder; availability of bidder staff with professional qualifications and
technical abilities; and the results of the bidders' external quality control reviews. [NOTE 8: See How to
Avoid a Substandard Audit: Suggestions for Procuring an Audit, National Intergovernmental Audit Forum,
May 1988.]



                        If you have questions about Government Auditing Standards,
                                     send email to yellowbook@gao.gov.


                                                  Updated 8/13/99




                                                                                                                4
               Chapter 2: Types of Government Audits


Purpose
2.1 This chapter describes the types of audits that government and nongovernment audit organizations
conduct and that organizations arrange to have conducted, of government organizations, programs, activities,
functions, and funds. This description is not intended to limit or require the types of audits that may be
conducted or arranged. In conducting these types of audits, auditors should follow the applicable standards
included and incorporated in the chapters which follow.

2.2 All audits begin with objectives, and those objectives determine the type of audit to be conducted and the
audit standards to be followed. The types of audits, as defined by their objectives, are classified in these
standards as financial audits or performance audits.

2.3 Audits may have a combination of financial and performance audit objectives or may have objectives
limited to only some aspects of one audit type. For example, auditors conduct audits of government contracts
and grants with private sector organizations, as well as government and nonprofit organizations, that often
include both financial and performance objectives. These are commonly referred to as "contract audits" or
"grant audits." Other examples of such audits include audits of specific internal controls, compliance issues,
and computer-based systems. Auditors should follow the standards that are applicable to the individual
objectives of the audit.



Financial Audits
2.4 Financial audits include financial statement and financial related audits.

a. Financial statement audits provide reasonable assurance about whether the financial statements of an
audited entity present fairly the financial position, results of operations, and cash flows in conformity with
generally accepted accounting principles.1 Financial statement audits also include audits of financial
statements prepared in conformity with any of several other bases of accounting discussed in auditing
standards issued by the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants (AICPA).

b. Financial related audits include determining whether (1) financial information is presented in accordance
with established or stated criteria, (2) the entity has adhered to specific financial compliance requirements, or
(3) the entity's internal control structure over financial reporting and/or safeguarding assets is suitably
designed and implemented to achieve the control objectives.

[NOTE 1: Three authoritative bodies for generally accepted accounting principles are the Governmental
Accounting Standards Board (GASB), the Financial Accounting Standards Board (FASB), and the sponsors
of the Federal Accounting Standards Advisory Board (FASAB). GASB establishes accounting principles and
financial reporting standards for state and local government entities. FASB establishes accounting principles
and financial reporting standards for nongovernment entities. The sponsors of FASAB--the Secretary of the
Treasury, the Director of the Office of Management and Budget, and the Comptroller General--jointly
establish accounting principles and financial reporting standards for the federal government, based on
recommendations from FASAB.]

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Government Auditing Standards


2.5 Financial related audits may, for example, include audits of the following items:

a. Segments of financial statements; financial information (for example, statement of revenue and expenses,
statement of cash receipts and disbursements, statement of fixed assets); budget requests; and variances
between estimated and actual financial performance.

b. Internal controls over compliance with laws and regulations, such as those governing the (1) bidding for,
(2) accounting for, and (3) reporting on grants and contracts (including proposals, amounts billed, amounts
due on termination claims, and so forth).

c. Internal controls over financial reporting and/or safeguarding assets, including controls using
computer-based systems.

d. Compliance with laws and regulations and allegations of fraud.



Performance Audits
2.6 A performance audit is an objective and systematic examination of evidence for the purpose of providing
an independent assessment of the performance of a government organization, program, activity, or function in
order to provide information to improve public accountability and facilitate decision-making by parties with
responsibility to oversee or initiate corrective action.

2.7 Performance audits include economy and efficiency and program audits.

a. Economy and efficiency audits include determining (1) whether the entity is acquiring, protecting, and
using its resources (such as personnel, property, and space) economically and efficiently, (2) the causes of
inefficiencies or uneconomical practices, and (3) whether the entity has complied with laws and regulations
on matters of economy and efficiency.

b. Program audits include determining (1) the extent to which the desired results or benefits established by
the legislature or other authorizing body are being achieved, (2) the effectiveness of organizations, programs,
activities, or functions, and (3) whether the entity has complied with significant laws and regulations
applicable to the program.

2.8 Economy and efficiency audits may, for example, consider whether the entity

a. is following sound procurement practices;

b. is acquiring the appropriate type, quality, and amount of resources at an appropriate cost;

c. is properly protecting and maintaining its resources;

d. is avoiding duplication of effort by employees and work that serves little or no purpose;

e. is avoiding idleness and overstaffing;

f. is using efficient operating procedures;

g. is using the optimum amount of resources (staff, equipment, and facilities) in producing or delivering the

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Government Auditing Standards


appropriate quantity and quality of goods or services in a timely manner;

h. is complying with requirements of laws and regulations that could significantly affect the acquisition,
protection, and use of the entity's resources;

i. has an adequate management control system for measuring, reporting, and monitoring a program's
economy and efficiency; and

j. has reported measures of economy and efficiency that are valid and reliable.

2.9 Program audits2 may, for example

a. assess whether the objectives of a new, or ongoing program are proper, suitable, or relevant;

b. determine the extent to which a program achieves a desired level of program results;

c. assess the effectiveness of the program and/or of individual program components;

d. identify factors inhibiting satisfactory performance;

e. determine whether management has considered alternatives for carrying out the program that might yield
desired results more effectively or at a lower cost;

f. determine whether the program complements, duplicates, overlaps, or conflicts with other related
programs;

g. identify ways of making programs work better;

h. assess compliance with laws and regulations applicable to the program;

i. assess the adequacy of the management control system for measuring, reporting, and monitoring a
program's effectiveness; and

j. determine whether management has reported measures of program effectiveness that are valid and reliable.

[NOTE 2: These audits may apply to services, activities, and functions as well as programs.]



Other Activities of An Audit Organization
2.10 Auditors may perform services other than audits. For example, some auditors may

a. assist a legislative body by developing questions for use at hearings,

b. develop methods and approaches to be applied in evaluating a new or a proposed program,

c. forecast potential program outcomes under various assumptions without evaluating current operations, and

d. perform investigative work.


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Government Auditing Standards


2.11 The head of the audit organization may wish to establish policies applying standards in this statement to
its employees performing these and other types of nonaudit work.


                        If you have questions about Government Auditing Standards,
                                    send email to yellowbook@gao.gov.


                                                 Updated 8/13/99




                                                                                                                 8
                          Chapter 3: General Standards


Purpose
3.1 This chapter prescribes general standards for conducting financial and performance audits. These general
standards relate to the qualifications of the staff, the audit organization's and the individual auditor's
independence, the exercise of due professional care in conducting the audit and in preparing related reports,
and the presence of quality controls. General standards are distinct from those standards that relate to
conducting field work and preparing related reports.

3.2 These general standards apply to all audit organizations, both government and nongovernment (for
example, public accounting firms and consulting firms), conducting audits of government organizations,
programs, activities, and functions and of government assistance received by nongovernment organizations.



Qualifications
3.3 The first general standard is:

The staff assigned to conduct the audit should collectively possess adequate professional proficiency for
the tasks required.

3.4 This standard places responsibility on the audit organization to ensure that each audit is conducted by
staff who collectively have the knowledge and skills necessary for that audit. They should also have a
thorough knowledge of government auditing and of the specific or unique environment in which the audited
entity operates, relative to the nature of the audit being conducted.

3.5 The qualifications mentioned here apply to the knowledge and skills of the audit organization as a whole
and not necessarily to each individual auditor. An organization may need to employ personnel or hire outside
consultants knowledgeable in such areas as accounting, statistics, law, engineering, audit design and
methodology, automated data processing, public administration, economics, social sciences, or actuarial
science.

Continuing Education Requirements

3.6 To meet this standard, the audit organization should have a program to ensure that its staff maintain
professional proficiency through continuing education and training. Thus, each auditor responsible for
planning, directing, conducting, or reporting on audits under these standards should complete, every 2 years,
at least 80 hours of continuing education and training which contributes to the auditor's professional
proficiency. At least 20 hours should be completed in any 1 year of the 2-year period. Individuals
responsible for planning or directing an audit, conducting substantial portions of the field work, or reporting
on the audit under these standards should complete at least 24 of the 80 hours of continuing education and
training in subjects directly related to the government environment and to government auditing. If the
audited entity operates in a specific or unique environment, auditors should receive training that is related to
that environment.


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Government Auditing Standards


3.7 The audit organization is responsible for establishing and implementing a program to ensure that auditors
meet the continuing education and training requirements just stated. The organization should maintain
documentation of the education and training completed.1

[NOTE 1: The qualifications standard and continuing education requirements place responsibilities on both
the audit organization and individual auditors. Carrying out these responsibilities requires sound professional
judgment. To assist audit organizations and individual auditors in exercising that judgment, the General
Accounting Office (GAO) issued Interpretation of Continuing Education and Training Requirements, April
1991, Government Printing Office stock number 020-000-00250-6.]

3.8 The continuing education and training may include such topics as current developments in audit
methodology, accounting, assessment of internal controls, principles of management or supervision, financial
management, statistical sampling, evaluation design, and data analysis. It may also include subjects related
to the auditor's field of work, such as public administration, public policy and structure, industrial
engineering, economics, social sciences, or computer science.

3.9 External consultants and internal experts and specialists should be qualified and maintain professional
proficiency in their areas of expertise and/or specialization but are not required to meet the above continuing
education and training requirements. Auditors performing nonaudit activities and services also are not
required to meet the above continuing education and training requirements.

Staff Qualifications

3.10 Qualifications for staff members conducting audits include:

a. Knowledge of the methods and techniques applicable to government auditing and the education, skills, and
experience to apply such knowledge to the audit being conducted.

b. Knowledge of government organizations, programs, activities, and functions.

c. Skills to communicate clearly and effectively, both orally and in writing.

d. Skills appropriate for the audit work being conducted. For instance

(1) if the work requires use of statistical sampling, the staff or consultants to the staff should include persons
with statistical sampling skills;

 (2) if the work requires extensive review of computerized systems, the staff or consultants to the staff should
include persons with computer audit skills;

 (3) if the work involves review of complex engineering data, the staff or consultants to the staff should
include persons with engineering skills; or

 (4) if the work involves the use of nontraditional audit methodologies, the staff or consultants to the staff
should include persons with skills in those methodologies.

e. The following qualifications are needed for financial audits that lead to an expression of an opinion.

 (1) The auditors should be proficient in the appropriate accounting principles and in government auditing
standards.

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Government Auditing Standards


 (2) The public accountants engaged to conduct audits should be (a) licensed certified public accountants or
persons working for a licensed certified public    accounting firm or (b) public accountants licensed on or
before December 31, 1970, or persons working for a public accounting firm licensed on or before December
31, 1970.2

[NOTE 2: Accountants and accounting firms meeting these licensing requirements should also comply with
the applicable provisions of the public accountancy law and rules of the jurisdiction(s) where the audit is
being conducted and the jurisdiction(s) in which the accountants and their firms are licensed.]



Independence
3.11 The second general standard is:

In all matters relating to the audit work, the audit organization and the individual auditors, whether
government or public, should be free from personal and external impairments to independence, should
be organizationally independent, and should maintain an independent attitude and appearance.

3.12 This standard places responsibility on each auditor and the audit organization to maintain independence
so that opinions, conclusions, judgments, and recommendations will be impartial and will be viewed as
impartial by knowledgeable third parties.

3.13 Auditors should consider not only whether they are independent and their attitudes and beliefs permit
them to be independent but also whether there is anything about their situations that might lead others to
question their independence. All situations deserve consideration because it is essential not only that auditors
are, in fact, independent and impartial, but also that knowledgeable third parties consider them so.

3.14 Government auditors, including hired consultants and internal experts and specialists, need to consider
three general classes of impairments to independence--personal, external, and organizational. If one or more
of these impairments affects an auditor's ability to do the work and report findings impartially, that auditor
should either decline to perform the audit, or in those situations where that auditor cannot decline to perform
the audit, the impairment(s) should be reported in the scope section of the audit report. Also, when auditors
are employees of the audited entity, that fact should be reflected in a prominent place in the audit report.

3.15 Nongovernment auditors also need to consider those personal and external impairments that might affect
their ability to do their work and report their findings impartially. If their ability is adversely affected, they
should decline to perform the audit. Public accountants should also follow the American Institute of
Certified Public Accountants (AICPA) code of professional conduct, the code of professional conduct of the
state board with jurisdiction over the practice of the public accountant and the audit organization, and the
guidance on personal and external impairments in these standards.

Personal Impairments

3.16 There are circumstances under which auditors may not be impartial, or may not be perceived as
impartial. The audit organization is responsible for having policies and procedures in place to help determine
if auditors have any personal impairments. Managers and supervisors need to be alert for personal
impairments of their staff members. Auditors are responsible for notifying the appropri-ate official within
their audit organization if they have any personal impairments. These impairments apply to individual
auditors, but they may also apply to the audit organization. Personal impairments may include, but are not


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Government Auditing Standards


limited to, the following:

a. official, professional, personal, or financial relationships that might cause an auditor to limit the extent of
the inquiry, to limit disclosure, or to weaken or slant audit findings in any way;

b. preconceived ideas toward individuals, groups, organizations, or objectives of a particular program that
could bias the audit;

c. previous responsibility for decision-making or managing an entity that would affect current operations of
the entity or program being audited;

d. biases, including those induced by political or social convictions, that result from employment in, or
loyalty to, a particular group, organization, or level of government;

e. subsequent performance of an audit by the same individual who, for example, had previously approved
invoices, payrolls, claims, and other proposed payments of the entity or program being audited;

f. concurrent or subsequent performance of an audit by the same individual who maintained the official
accounting records;3 and

g. financial interest that is direct, or is substantial though indirect, in the audited entity or program.

[NOTE 3: For example, an individual performs a substantial part of the accounting process or cycle, such as
analyzing, journalizing, posting, preparing, adjusting and closing entries, and preparing the financial
statements, and later the same individual performs an audit. In instances in which the auditor acts as the main
processor for transactions initiated by the audited entity, but the audited entity acknowledges responsibility
for the financial records and financial statements, the independence of the auditor is not necessarily
impaired.]

External Impairments
3.17 Factors external to the audit organization may restrict the audit or interfere with an auditor's ability to
form independent and objective opinions and conclusions. For example, under the following conditions, an
audit may be adversely affected and an auditor may not have complete freedom to make an independent and
objective judgment:

a. external interference or influence that improperly or imprudently limits or modifies the scope of an audit;

b. external interference with the selection or application of audit procedures or in the selection of transactions
to be examined;

c. unreasonable restrictions on the time allowed to complete an audit;

d. interference external to the audit organization in the assignment, appointment, and promotion of audit
personnel;

e. restrictions on funds or other resources provided to the audit organization that would adversely affect the
audit organization's ability to carry out its responsibilities;

f. authority to overrule or to influence the auditor's judgment as to the appropriate content of an audit report;

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Government Auditing Standards


and

g. influences that jeopardize the auditor's continued employment for reasons other than competency or the
need for audit services.

Organizational Independence
3.18 Government auditors' independence can be affected by their place within the structure of the
government entity to which they are assigned and also by whether they are auditing internally or auditing
other entities.

Internal Auditors
3.19 A federal, state, or local government audit organization, or an audit organization within other
government entities, such as a public college, university, or hospital, may be subject to administrative
direction from persons involved in the government management process. To help achieve organizational
independence, audit organizations should report the results of their audits and be accountable to the head or
deputy head of the government entity and should be organizationally located outside the staff or line
management function of the unit under audit. The audit organization's independence is enhanced when it
also reports regularly to the entity's independent audit committee and/or the appropriate government
oversight body.

3.20 Auditors should also be sufficiently removed from political pressures to ensure that they can conduct
their audits objectively and can report their findings, opinions, and conclusions objectively without fear of
political repercussion. Whenever feasible, they should be under a personnel system in which compensation,
training, job tenure, and advancement are based on merit.

3.21 If the above conditions are met, and no personal or external impairments exist, the audit staff should be
considered organizationally independent to audit internally and free to report objectively to top management.

3.22 When organizationally independent internal audi-tors conduct audits external to the government entity to
which they are directly assigned, they may be considered independent of the audited entity and free to report
objectively to the head or deputy head of the government entity to which assigned.

External Auditors

3.23 Government auditors employed by audit organizations whose heads are elected and legislative auditors
auditing executive entities may be considered free of organizational impairments when auditing outside the
government entity to which they are assigned.

3.24 Government auditors may be presumed to be independent of the audited entity, assuming no personal or
external impairments exist, if the entity is

a. a level of government other than the one to which they are assigned (federal, state, or local) or

b. a different branch of government within the level of government to which they are assigned (legislative,
executive, or judicial).

3.25 Government auditors may also be presumed to be independent, assuming no personal or external
impairments exist, if the audit organization's head is

                                                                                                                13
Government Auditing Standards


a. elected by the citizens of their jurisdiction,

b. elected or appointed by a legislative body of the level of government to which they are assigned and report
the results of audits to, and are accountable to the legislative body, or

c. appointed by the chief executive but confirmed by, report the results of audits to, and are accountable to a
legislative body of the level of government to which they are assigned.



Due Professional Care
3.26 The third general standard is:

Due professional care should be used in conducting the audit and in preparing related reports.

3.27 This standard requires auditors to work with due professional care. Due care imposes a responsibility
upon each auditor within the audit organization to observe generally accepted government auditing standards.

3.28 Exercising due professional care means using sound judgment in establishing the scope, selecting the
methodology, and choosing tests and procedures for the audit. The same sound judgment should be applied
in conducting the tests and procedures and in evaluating and reporting the audit results.

3.29 Auditors should use sound professional judgment in determining the standards that apply to the work to
be conducted. The auditors' determination that certain standards do not apply to the audit should be
documented in the working papers. Situations may occur in which government auditors are not able to
follow an applicable standard and are not able to withdraw from the audit. In those situations, the auditors
should disclose in the scope section of their report, the fact that an applicable standard was not followed, the
reasons therefor, and the known effect that not following the standard had on the results of the audit.

3.30 While this standard places responsibility on each auditor and audit organization to exercise due
professional care in the performance of an audit assignment, it does not imply unlimited responsibility;
neither does it imply infallibility on the part of either the individual auditor or the audit organization.




Quality Control
3.31 The fourth general standard is:

Each audit organization conducting audits in accordance with these standards should have an
appropriate internal quality control system in place and undergo an external quality control review.

3.32 The internal quality control system established by the audit organization should provide reasonable
assurance that it (1) has adopted, and is following, applicable auditing standards and (2) has established, and
is following, adequate audit policies and procedures. The nature and extent of an organization's internal
quality control system depend on a number of factors, such as its size, the degree of operating autonomy
allowed its personnel and its audit offices, the nature of its work, its organizational structure, and appropriate
cost-benefit considerations. Thus, the systems established by individual organizations will vary, as will the
extent of their documentation.

                                                                                                                14
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3.33 Organizations conducting audits in accordance with these standards should have an external quality
control review at least once every 3 years by an organization not affiliated with the organization being
reviewed.4 The external quality control review should determine whether the organization's internal quality
control system is in place and operating effectively to provide reasonable assurance that established policies
and procedures and applicable auditing standards are being followed.

[NOTE 4: Audit organizations should have an external quality control review completed (that is, report
issued) within 3 years from the date they start their first audit in accordance with these standards. Subsequent
external quality control reviews should be completed within 3 years after the issuance of the prior review.]

3.34 An external quality control review under this standard should meet the following requirements.5

a. Reviewers should be qualified and have current knowledge of the type of work to be reviewed and the
applicable auditing standards. For example, individuals reviewing government audits should have a thorough
knowledge of the government environment and government auditing relative to the work being reviewed.

b. Reviewers should be independent (as defined in these standards) of the audit organization being reviewed,
its staff, and its auditees whose audits are selected for review. An audit organization is not permitted to
review the organization that conducted its most recent external quality control review.

c. Reviewers should use sound professional judgment in conducting and reporting the results of the external
quality control review.

d. Reviewers should use one of the following approaches to selecting audits for review: (1) select audits that
provide a reasonable cross section of the audits conducted in accordance with these standards or (2) select
audits that provide a reasonable cross section of the organization's audits, including one or more audits
conducted in accordance with these standards.

e. This review should include a review of the audit reports, working papers, and other necessary documents
(for example, correspondence and continuing education documentation) as well as interviews with the
reviewed organization's professional staff.

f. A written report should be prepared communicating the results of the external quality control review.

[NOTE 5: External quality control reviews conducted through or by the AICPA, National State Auditors
Association, National Association of Local Government Auditors, President's Council on Integrity and
Efficiency, Executive Council on Integrity and Efficiency, and Institute of Internal Auditors meet these
requirements.]

3.35 External quality control review procedures should be tailored to the size and nature of an organization's
audit work. For example, an organization that performs only a few audits may be more effectively reviewed
by emphasizing a review of the quality of those audits rather than the organization's internal quality control
policies and procedures.

3.36 Audit organizations seeking to enter into a contract to perform an audit in accordance with these
standards should provide their most recent external quality control review report to the party contracting for
the audit. Information in the external quality control review report often would be relevant to decisions on
procuring audit services. Audit organizations also should make their external quality control review reports
available to auditors using their work and to appropriate oversight bodies. It is recommended that the report
be made available to the public.


                                                                                                              15
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[NOTE 6: The term "report" does not include separate letters of comment.]


                       If you have questions about Government Auditing Standards,
                                   send email to yellowbook@gao.gov.


                                                Updated 8/13/99




                                                                                    16
 Chapter 4: Field Work Standards for Financial Audits

                                        (Revised through Amendment 2)




Purpose
4.1 This chapter prescribes standards of field work for financial audits, which include financial statement
audits and financial related audits.



Relation to AICPA Standards
Revised July 1999

4.2 For financial statement audits, generally accepted government auditing standards (GAGAS) incorporate
the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants' (AICPA) three generally accepted standards of field
work, which are:

a. The work is to be adequately planned and assistants, if any, are to be properly supervised.

b. A sufficient understanding of internal control is to be obtained to plan the audit and to determine the
nature, timing, and extent of tests to be performed.

c. Sufficient competent evidential matter is to be obtained through inspection, observation, inquiries, and
confirmations to afford a reasonable basis for an opinion regarding the financial statements under audit.

4.3 The AICPA has issued statements on auditing standards (SAS) that interpret its standards of field work
(including a SAS on compliance auditing).1 This chapter incorporates these SASs and prescribes additional
standards on

a. auditor communication (see paragraphs 4.6.3 through 4.6.9),

b. audit follow-up (see paragraphs 4.7, 4.10, and 4.11);

c. noncompliance other than illegal acts (see paragraphs 4.13 and 4.18 through 4.20);

d. documentation of the assessment of control risk for assertions significantly dependent upon computerized
information systems (see paragraphs 4.21.1 through 4.21.4); and

e. working papers. (See paragraphs 4.35 through 4.38.)

[NOTE 1: GAGAS incorporate any new AICPA field work standards relevant to financial statement audits
unless the General Accounting Office (GAO) excludes them by formal announcement.]


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4.4 This chapter also discusses three other key aspects of financial statement audits:

a. materiality (see paragraphs 4.6.1 and 4.6.2),

b. fraud and illegal acts (see paragraphs 4.14 through 4.17), and

c. internal control. (See paragraphs 4.22 and 4.25 through 4.30.)

4.5 This chapter concludes by explaining which standards auditors should follow in performing financial
related audits.



Planning
Revised July 1999

4.6 AICPA standards and GAGAS require the following:

The work is to be properly planned, and auditors should consider materiality, among other matters, in
determining the nature, timing, and extent of auditing procedures and in evaluating the results of those
procedures.

4.6.1 Auditors’ consideration of materiality is a matter of professional judgment and is influenced by their
perception of the needs of a reasonable person who will rely on the financial statements. Materiality
judgments are made in light of surrounding circumstances and necessarily involve both quantitative and
qualitative considerations.

4.6.2 In an audit of the financial statements of a government entity or an entity that receives government
assistance, auditors may set lower materiality levels than in audits in the private sector because of the public
accountability of the auditee, the various legal and regulatory requirements, and the visibility and sensitivity
of government programs, activities, and functions.

Auditor Communication

4.6.3 The first additional planning standard for financial statement audits is:

Auditors should communicate information to the auditee, the individuals contracting for or requesting
the audit services, and the audit committee regarding the nature and extent of planned testing and
reporting on compliance with laws and regulations and internal control over financial reporting.

4.6.4 AICPA standards and GAGAS require auditors to establish an understanding with the client and to
communicate with audit committees. GAGAS broaden who auditors must communicate with and require
auditors to communicate specific information regarding the nature and extent of testing and reporting on
compliance with laws and regulations and internal control over financial reporting during the planning stages
of a financial statement audit to reduce the risk that the needs or expectations of the parties involved may be
misinterpreted.

4.6.5 The auditee is the organization or entity being audited. Auditors should communicate their
responsibilities for the engagement to the appropriate officials of the auditee (which would normally include
the head of the organization, the audit committee or board of directors or other equivalent oversight body in

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the absence of an audit committee, and the individual who possesses a sufficient level of authority and
responsibility for the financial reporting process, such as the chief financial officer). In situations where
auditors are performing the audit under a contract with a party other than the auditee, or pursuant to a third
party request, auditors should also communicate with the individuals contracting for or requesting the audit,
such as contracting officials or legislative members or staff. When auditors are performing the audit pursuant
to a law or regulation, auditors should communicate with the legislative members or staff who have oversight
of the auditee.1.1

[NOTE 1.1: This requirement applies only to situations where the law or regulation specifically identifies the
entity to be audited, such as an audit of a specific agency’s financial statements required by the Chief
Financial Officers Act, as expanded by the Government Management Reform Act of 1994. Situations where
the financial statement audit mandate applies to entities not specifically identified, such as audits required by
the Single Audit Act Amendments of 1996, are excluded.]

4.6.6 During the planning stages of an audit, auditors should communicate their responsibilities in a financial
statement audit, including their responsibilities for testing and reporting on compliance with laws and
regulations and internal control over financial reporting. Such communication should include the nature of
any additional testing of compliance and internal control required by laws and regulations or otherwise
requested, and whether the auditors are planning on providing opinions on compliance with laws and
regulations and internal control over financial reporting.

4.6.7 Auditors should use their professional judgment to determine the form and content of the
communication. Written communication is preferred. Auditors should document the communication in the
working papers. Auditors may use an engagement letter to communicate the information described in
paragraph 4.6.6. To assist in understanding the limitations of auditors' responsibilities for testing and
reporting on compliance and internal control over financial reporting, auditors may want to contrast those
responsibilities with other financial related audits of compliance and controls. The discussion in paragraphs
4.6.8 and 4.6.9 may be helpful to auditors in explaining their responsibilities for testing and reporting on
compliance with laws and regulations and internal control over financial reporting to the auditee and other
interested parties.

4.6.8 Tests of compliance with laws and regulations and internal control over financial reporting in a
financial statement audit contribute to the evidence supporting the auditors' opinion on the financial
statements. However, they generally do not provide a basis for opining on compliance or internal control
over financial reporting. To meet certain audit report users' needs, laws and regulations sometimes prescribe
testing and reporting on compliance and internal control over financial reporting to supplement the financial
statement audit's coverage of these areas. 1.2

[NOTE 1.2: For example, when engaged to perform audits under the Single Audit Act of state and local
government entities and nonprofit organizations that receive federal awards, auditors should be familiar with
the Single Audit Act Amendments of 1996 and Office of Management and Budget (OMB) Circular A- 133.
The act and circular include specific audit requirements, mainly in the areas of compliance with laws and
regulations and internal control, that exceed the minimum audit requirements in the standards in chapters 4
and 5 of this document. Audits conducted under the Chief Financial Officers Act of 1990, as expanded by
the Government Management Reform Act of 1994, also have specific audit requirements prescribed by OMB
in the areas of compliance and internal control. Many state and local governments have additional audit
requirements.]

4.6.9 Even after auditors perform and report the results of additional tests of compliance and internal control
over financial reporting required by laws and regulations, some reasonable needs of report users still may be
unmet. Auditors may meet these needs by performing further tests of compliance and internal control in

                                                                                                                19
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either of two ways:

a. supplemental (or agreed-upon) procedures or

b. examination, resulting in an opinion.

Audit Follow-up
4.7 The second additional planning standard for financial statement audits is:

Auditors should follow up on known material findings and recommendations from previous audits.

[Paragraphs 4.8 and 4.9 have been moved and renumbered to paragraphs 4.6.1 and 4.6.2.]

4.10 Auditors should follow up on known material findings and recommendations from previous audits that
could affect the financial statement audit. They should do this to determine whether the auditee has taken
timely and appropriate corrective actions. Auditors should report the status of uncorrected material findings
and recommendations from prior audits that affect the financial statement audit.

4.11 Much of the benefit from audit work is not in the findings reported or the recommendations made, but in
their effective resolution. Auditee management is responsible for resolving audit findings and
recommendations, and having a process to track their status can help it fulfill this responsibility. If
management does not have such a process, auditors may wish to establish their own. Continued attention to
material findings and recommendations can help auditors assure that the benefits of their work are realized.



Fraud, Illegal Acts, and Other Noncompliance
Revised July 1999

4.12 AICPA standards and GAGAS require the following:

a. Auditors should design the audit to provide reasonable assurance of detecting fraud that is material
to the financial statements.2

[NOTE 2: Two types of misstatements are relevant to the auditors' consideration of fraud in a financial
statement audit—misstatements arising from fraudulent financial statements and misstatements arising from
misappropriation of assets. The primary factor that distinguishes fraud from error is whether the underlying
action that results in the misstatement in the financial statements is intentional or unintentional.]

b.Auditors should design the audit to provide reasonable assurance of detecting material
misstatements resulting from direct and material illegal acts.3

[NOTE 3: Direct and material illegal acts are violations of laws and regulations having a direct and material
effect on the determination of financial statement amounts.]

c.Auditors should be aware of the possibility that indirect illegal acts may have occurred.4 If specific
information comes to the auditors' attention that provides evidence concerning the existence of
possible illegal acts that could have a material indirect effect on the financial statements, the auditors
should apply audit procedures specifically directed to ascertaining whether an illegal act has occurred.

                                                                                                                20
Government Auditing Standards


[NOTE 4: Indirect illegal acts are violations of laws and regulations having material but indirect effects on
the financial statements.]

4.13 The additional compliance standard for financial statement audits is:

Auditors should design the audit to provide reasonable assurance of detecting material misstatements
resulting from noncompliance with provisions of contracts or grant agreements that have a direct and
material effect on the on the determination of financial statement amounts. If specific information
comes to the auditors' attention that provides evidence concerning the existence of possible
noncompliance that could have a material indirect effect on the financial statements, auditors should
apply audit procedures specifically directed to ascertaining whether that noncompliance has occurred.

Auditors' Understanding of Possible Fraud and of Laws and Regulations

4.14 Auditors are responsible for being aware of the characteristics and types of potentially material fraud
that could be associated with the area being audited so that they can plan the audit to provide reasonable
assurance of detecting material fraud.

4.15 Auditors should obtain an understanding of the possible effects on financial statements of laws and
regulations that are generally recognized by auditors to have a direct and material effect on the determination
of amounts in the financial statements. Auditors may find it necessary to use the work of legal counsel in (1)
determining which laws and regulations might have a direct and material effect on the financial statements,
(2) designing tests of compliance with laws and regulations, and (3) evaluating the results of those tests.5
Auditors also may find it necessary to use the work of legal counsel when an audit requires testing
compliance with provisions of contracts or grant agreements. Depending on the circumstances of the audit,
auditors may find it necessary to obtain information on compliance matters from others, such as investigative
staff, audit officials of government entities that provided assistance to the auditee, and/or the applicable law
enforcement authority.

[NOTE 5: AICPA standards provide guidance for auditors who use the work of a specialist who is not a
member of their staff.]

Due Care Concerning Possible Fraud and Illegal Acts

4.16 Auditors should exercise due professional care in pursuing indications of possible fraud and illegal acts
so as not to interfere with potential future investigations, legal proceedings, or both. Under some
circumstances, laws, regulations, or policies may require auditors to report indications of certain types of
fraud or illegal acts to law enforcement or investigatory authorities before extending audit steps and
procedures. Auditors may also be required to withdraw from or defer further work on the audit or a portion
of the audit in order not to interfere with an investigation.

4.17 An audit made in accordance with GAGAS will not guarantee the discovery of illegal acts or contingent
liabilities resulting from them. Nor does the subsequent discovery of illegal acts committed during the audit
period necessarily mean that the auditors' performance was inadequate, provided the audit was made in
accordance with these standards.

Noncompliance Other Than Illegal Acts
4.18 The term noncompliance has a broader meaning than illegal acts. Noncompliance includes not only
illegal acts, but also violations of provisions of contracts or grant agreements. AICPA standards do not

                                                                                                                21
Government Auditing Standards


discuss auditors' responsibility for detecting noncompliance other than illegal acts. But, under GAGAS,
auditors have the same responsibilities for detecting material misstatements arising from other types of
noncompliance as they do for detecting those arising from illegal acts.

4.19 Direct and material noncompliance is noncompliance having a direct and material effect on the
determination of financial statement amounts. Auditors should design the audit to provide reasonable
assurance of detecting material misstatements resulting from direct and material noncompliance with
provisions of contracts or grant agreements.

4.20 Indirect noncompliance is noncompliance having material but indirect effects on the financial
statements. A financial statement audit provides no assurance that indirect noncompliance with provisions of
contracts or grant agreements will be detected. However, if specific information comes to the auditors'
attention that provides evidence concerning the existence of possible noncompliance that could have a
material indirect effect on the financial statements, auditors should apply audit procedures specifically
directed to ascertaining whether that noncompliance has occurred.



Internal Control
Revised May 1999

4.21 AICPA standards and GAGAS require the following:

Auditors should obtain a sufficient understanding of internal control to plan the audit and determine
the nature, timing, and extent of tests to be performed.

4.21.1 AICPA standards and GAGAS require that, in all audits, auditors obtain an understanding of internal
control sufficient to plan the audit by performing procedures to understand (1) the design of controls relevant
to an audit of financial statements and (2) whether the controls have been placed in operation. This
understanding should include a consideration of the methods an entity uses to process accounting information
because such methods influence the design of internal control. The extent to which computerized
information systems are used in significant accounting applications,5.1 as well as the complexity of that
processing, may also influence the nature, timing, and extent of audit procedures. Accordingly, in planning
the audit and in obtaining an understanding of internal control over an entity's computer processing, auditors
should consider, among other things, such matters as

a. the extent to which computer processing is used in each significant accounting application;5.2

b. the complexity of the entity's computer operations;

c. the organizational structure of the computer processing activities; and

d. the kinds and competence of available evidential matter, in electronic and in paper formats, to achieve
audit objectives.

[NOTE 5.1: Significant accounting applications are those which relate to accounting information that can
materially affect the financial statements the auditor is auditing. Significant accounting applications could
include financial as well as other systems, such as management information systems or systems that monitor
compliance, if they provide data for material account balances, transaction classes, and disclosure
components of financial statements.]

                                                                                                             22
Government Auditing Standards


[NOTE 5.2: Obtaining an understanding of these elements would include consideration of internal control
related to security over computerized information systems.]

4.21.2 AICPA standards and GAGAS require auditors to document their understanding of the components of
an entity's internal control related to computer applications that process information used in preparing an
entity's financial statements and, based on that understanding, to develop a planned audit approach in
sufficient detail to demonstrate its effectiveness in reducing audit risk. In doing so, under AICPA standards
and GAGAS, auditors should consider whether specialized skills are needed for considering the effect of
computerized information systems on the audit, understanding internal control, or designing and performing
audit procedures, including tests of internal control. If the use of a professional with specialized skills is
planned, auditors should have sufficient computer-related knowledge to communicate the objectives of the
other professional's work; to evaluate whether the specified procedures will meet the auditors' objectives;
and to evaluate the results of the procedures applied as they relate to the nature, timing, and extent of other
planned audit procedures.

4.21.3 The additional internal control standard for financial statement audits is

In planning the audit, auditors should document in the working papers (1) the basis for assessing
control risk at the maximum level for assertions related to material account balances, transaction
classes, and disclosure components of financial statements when such assertions are significantly
dependent upon computerized information systems, and (2) consideration that the planned audit
procedures are designed to achieve audit objectives and to reduce audit risk to an acceptable level.

4.21.4 This additional GAGAS standard does not increase the auditor’s responsibility for testing controls, but
rather requires that, if the auditor assesses control risk at the maximum level for assertions related to material
account balances, transaction classes, and disclosure components of financial statements when such
assertions are significantly dependent upon computerized information systems, the auditor should document
in the working papers5.3 the basis for that conclusion by addressing (1) the ineffectiveness of the design
and/or operation of the controls, or (2) the reasons why it would be inefficient to test the controls. In such
circumstances, GAGAS also require the auditor to document in the working papers the consideration that the
planned audit procedures are designed to achieve specific audit objectives and, accordingly, to reduce audit
risk to an acceptable level. This documentation should address

a. the rationale for determining the nature, timing, and extent of planned audit procedures;

b. the kinds and competence of available evidential matter produced outside a computerized information
system; and

c. the effect on the audit opinion or report if evidential matter to be gathered during the audit does not afford
a reasonable basis for the auditor’s opinion on the financial statements.

[NOTE 5.3: See paragraphs 4.34 through 4.38 for a discussion of the working paper standards.]

4.22 Safeguarding of assets and compliance with laws and regulations are internal control objectives that are
especially important in conducting financial statement audits in accordance with GAGAS of governmental
entities or others receiving government funds. Given the public accountability for stewardship of resources,
safeguarding of assets permeates control objectives and components as defined by the AICPA standards and
GAGAS. Also, the operation of government programs and the related transactions that materially affect the
entity's financial statements are generally governed by laws and regulations. Although GAGAS are not
prescribing additional internal control standards in these areas, this chapter provides a discussion that auditors
may find useful in assessing audit risk and in obtaining evidence needed to support their opinion on the

                                                                                                                23
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financial statements in a governmental environment.

4.23 Deleted

4.24 Deleted

Safeguarding of Assets
4.25 As applied to financial statement audits, internal control over safeguarding of assets constitutes a
process, effected by an entity's governing body, management, and other detection of unauthorized
acquisition, use, or disposition of the entity's assets that could have a material effect on the financial
statements.

4.26 Internal control over the safeguarding of assets relates to the prevention or timely detection of
unauthorized transactions and unauthorized access to assets that could result in losses that are material to the
financial statements; for example, when unauthorized expenditures or investments are made, unauthorized
liabilities are incurred, inventory is stolen, or assets are converted to personal use. Such controls are designed
to help ensure the use of and access to assets are in accordance with management's authorization.
Authorization includes approval of transactions in accordance with control activities established by
management to safeguard assets, such as establishing and complying with requirements for extending and
monitoring credit or making investment decisions, and related documentation. Control over safeguarding of
assets is not designed to protect against loss of assets arising from inefficiency or from management's
operating decisions, such as incurring expenditures for equipment or material that proves to be unnecessary
or unsatisfactory.

4.27 AICPA standards and GAGAS require auditors to obtain a sufficient understanding of internal control to
plan the audit. They also require auditors to plan the audit to provide reasonable assurance of detecting
material fraud, including material misappropriation of assets. Because preventing or detecting material
misappropriations is an objective of control over safeguarding of assets, understanding this type of control
can be essential to planning the audit.

4.28 Control over safeguarding of assets is not limited to preventing or detecting misappropriations,
however. It also helps prevent or detect other material losses that could result from unauthorized acquisition,
use, or disposition of assets. Such controls include, for example, the process of assessing the risk of
unauthorized acquisition, use, or disposition of assets and establishing control activities to help ensure that
management directives to address the risk are carried out. Such control activities would include permitting
acquisition, use, or disposition of assets only in accordance with management's general or specific
authorization, including compliance with established control activities for such acquisition, use, or
disposition. They would also include comparing existing assets with the related records at reasonable
intervals and taking appropriate action with respect to any differences. Finally, controls over safeguarding of
assets against unauthorized acquisition, use, or disposition also relate to making available to management
information it needs to carry out its responsibilities related to prevention or timely detection of such
unauthorized activities, as well as mechanisms to enable management to monitor the continued effective
operation of such controls.

4.29 Understanding the control over safeguarding of assets can help auditors assess the risk that financial
statements could be materially misstated. For example, an understanding of an auditee's control over the
safeguarding of assets can help auditors recognize risk factors such as

a. failure to adequately monitor decentralized operations;

                                                                                                               24
Government Auditing Standards


b. lack of control over activities, such as lack of documentation for major transactions;

c. lack of control over computerized information systems, such as a lack of control over access to applications
that initiate or control the movement of assets;

d. failure to develop or communicate adequate control activities for security of data or assets, such as
allowing unauthorized personnel to have ready access to data or assets; and

e. failure to investigate significant unreconciled differences between reconciliations of a control account and
subsidiary records.

Control Over Compliance With Laws and Regulations
4.29.1 Governmental entities are subject to a variety of laws and regulations that affect their financial
statements, which is a major factor distinguishing governmental accounting from commercial accounting.
For example, such laws and regulations may address the required fund structure, procurement or debt
limitations, or authority for transactions. Accordingly, compliance with such laws and regulations may have
a direct and material effect on the determination of amounts in the financial statements of governmental
entities. Likewise, organizations that receive government assistance, such as contractors, nonprofit
organizations, and other nongovernmental organizations, are also subject to regulations, contract provisions,
or grant agreements that could have a direct and material effect on their financial statements. Management,
of both governmental entities and others receiving governmental assistance, is responsible for ensuring that
the entity complies with the laws and regulations applicable to its activities. That responsibility encompasses
the identification of applicable laws and regulations and the establishment of controls designed to provide
reasonable assurance that the entity complies with those laws and regulations.

4.30 AICPA standards and GAGAS require auditors to design the audit to provide reasonable assurance that
the financial statements are free of material misstatements resulting from violations of laws and regulations
that have a direct and material effect on the determination of financial statement amounts. To meet that
requirement, auditors should have an understanding of internal control relevant to financial statement
assertions affected by those laws and regulations. Auditors should use that understanding to identify types of
potential misstatements, consider factors that affect the risk of material misstatement, and design substantive
tests. For example, the following factors may influence the auditors' assessment of control risk:

a. management's awareness or lack of awareness of applicable laws and regulations;

b. auditee policy regarding such matters as acceptable operating practices and codes of conduct; and

c. assignment of responsibility and delegation of authority to deal with such matters as organizational goals
and objectives, operating functions, and regulatory requirements.

4.31 Deleted

4.32 Deleted

4.33 Deleted




                                                                                                                25
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Working Papers
4.34 AICPA standards and GAGAS require the following:

A record of the auditors' work should be retained in the form of working papers.

4.35 The additional working paper standard for financial statement audits is:

Working papers should contain sufficient information to enable an experienced auditor having no
previous connection with the audit to ascertain from them the evidence that supports the auditors'
significant conclusions and judgments.

4.36 Audits done in accordance with GAGAS are subject to review by other auditors and by oversight
officials more frequently than audits done in accordance with AICPA standards. Thus, whereas AICPA
standards cite two main purposes of working papers--providing the principal support for the audit report and
aiding auditors in the conduct and supervision of the audit--working papers serve an additional purpose in
audits performed in accordance with GAGAS. Working papers allow for the review of audit quality by
providing the reviewer written documentation of the evidence supporting the auditors' significant conclusions
and judgments.

4.37 Working papers should contain

a. the objectives, scope, and methodology, including any sampling criteria used;

b. documentation of the work performed to support significant conclusions and judgments, including
descriptions of transactions and records examined that would enable an experienced auditor to examine the
same transactions and records6; and

c. evidence of supervisory reviews of the work performed.

[NOTE 6: Auditors may meet this requirement by listing voucher numbers, check numbers, or other means of
identifying specific documents they examined. They are not required to include in the working papers copies
of documents they examined nor are they required to list detailed information from those documents.]

4.38 One factor underlying GAGAS audits is that federal, state, and local governments and other
organizations cooperate in auditing programs of common interest so that auditors may use others' work and
avoid duplicate audit efforts. Arrangements should be made so that working papers will be made available,
upon request, to other auditors. To facilitate reviews of audit quality and reliance by other auditors on the
auditors' work, contractual arrangements for GAGAS audits should provide for access to working papers.



Financial Related Audits
Revised July 1999

4.39 Certain AICPA standards address specific types of financial related audits, and GAGAS incorporate
those standards, as discussed below:7

a. SAS No. 75, Engagements to Apply Agreed-Upon Procedures to Specific Elements, Accounts, or Items of a
Financial Statement;

                                                                                                                26
Government Auditing Standards


b. SAS No. 62, Special Reports, for auditing specified elements, accounts, or items of a financial statement;

c. SAS No. 74, Compliance Auditing Considerations in Audits of Governmental Entities and Recipients of
Governmental Financial Assistance, for testing compliance with laws and regulations applicable to federal
financial assistance programs;

d. SAS No. 70, Reports on the Processing of Transactions by Service Organizations, for examining
descriptions of internal control of service organizations that process transactions for others;

e. Statement on Standards for Attestation Engagements (SSAE) No. 1, Attestation Standards, as amended by
SSAE No. 9, Amendments to Statement on Standards for Attestation Engagements Nos. 1, 2, and 3, for
examining or reviewing an entity's assertions about financial related matters not specifically addressed in
other AICPA standards;

f. SSAE No. 2, Reporting on an Entity's Internal Control Over Financial Reporting, as amended by SSAE
No. 9, Amendments to Statement on Standards for Attestation Engagements Nos. 1, 2, and 3, for examining
an entity's assertions about its internal control over financial reporting and/or safeguarding assets;

g. SSAE No. 3, Compliance Attestation, as amended by SSAE No. 9, Amendments to Statement on Standards
for Attestation Engagements Nos. 1, 2, and 3, for (1) examining or applying agreed-upon procedures to an
entity's assertions about compliance with specified requirements or (2) applying agreed-upon procedures to
an entity's assertions about internal control over compliance with laws and regulations; and

h. SSAE No. 4, Agreed-Upon Procedures Engagements, for applying agreed-upon procedures to (1) an
entity’s assertions about internal control over financial reporting and/or safeguarding of assets or (2) an entity’s
assertions about financial related matters not specifically addressed in other AICPA standards.

[NOTE 7: GAGAS incorporate any new AICPA field work standards relevant to financial related audits
unless GAO excludes them by formal announcement.]

4.40 Besides following applicable AICPA standards, auditors should follow this chapter's audit follow-up
and working paper standards. They should apply or adapt the other standards and guidance in this chapter as
appropriate in the circumstances. For financial related audits not described above, auditors should follow the
field work standards for performance audits in chapter 6.8

[NOTE 8: Chapter 2 provides examples of other types of financial related audits. ]


                         If you have questions about Government Auditing Standards,
                                     send email to yellowbook@gao.gov.


                                                   Updated 8/13/99




                                                                                                                27
  Chapter 5: Reporting Standards for Financial Audits

                                        (Revised through Amendment 2)




Purpose
5.1 This chapter prescribes standards of reporting for financial audits, which include financial statement
audits and financial related audits



Relation to AICPA Standards
Revised July 1999

5.2 For financial statement audits, generally accepted government auditing standards (GAGAS) incorporate
the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants' (AICPA) four generally accepted standards of
reporting, which are:

a. The report shall state whether the financial statements are presented in accordance with generally accepted
accounting principles.

b. The report shall identify those circumstances in which such principles have not been consistently observed
in the current period in relation to the preceding period.

c. Informative disclosures in the financial statements are to be regarded as reasonably adequate unless
otherwise stated in the report.

d. The report shall either contain an expression of opinion regarding the financial statements, taken as a
whole, or an assertion to the effect that an opinion cannot be expressed. When an overall opinion cannot be
expressed, the reasons therefor should be stated. In all cases where an auditor's name is associated with
financial statements, the report should contain a clear-cut indication of the character of the auditor's work, if
any, and the degree of responsibility the auditor is taking.

5.3 The AICPA has issued statements on auditing standards (SAS) that interpret its standards of reporting.1
This chapter incorporates these SASs and prescribes additional standards on

a. reporting compliance with GAGAS (see paragraphs 5.11 through 5.14),

b. reporting on compliance with laws and regulations and on internal control over financial reporting (see
paragraphs 5.15 through 5.28),

c. privileged and confidential information (see paragraphs 5.29 through 5.31), and

d. report distribution. (See paragraphs 5.32 through 5.35.)

                                                                                                                28
Government Auditing Standards


[NOTE 1: GAGAS incorporate any new AICPA reporting standards relevant to financial statement audits
unless the General Accounting Office (GAO) excludes them by formal announcement.]

5.4 This chapter concludes by explaining which standards auditors should follow in reporting the results of
financial related audits

5.5 Deleted

5.6 Deleted

5.7 Deleted

5.8 Deleted

5.9 Deleted

5.10 Deleted (Note 2 deleted)



Reporting Compliance with Generally Accepted Government
Standards
Revised July 1999

5.11 The first additional reporting standard for financial statement audits is

Audit reports should state that the audit was made in accordance with generally accepted government
auditing standards.

5.12 The above statement refers to all the applicable standards that the auditors should have followed during
their audit. The statement should be qualified in situations where the auditors did not follow an applicable
standard. In these situations, the auditors should disclose the applicable standard that was not followed, the
reasons therefor, and how not following the standard affected the results of the audit.

5.13 When the report on the financial statements is submitted to comply with a legal, regulatory, or
contractual requirement for a GAGAS audit, it should specifically cite GAGAS. The report on the financial
statements may cite AICPA standards as well as GAGAS.

5.14 The auditee may need a financial statement audit for purposes other than to comply with requirements
calling for a GAGAS audit. For example, it may need a financial statement audit to issue bonds. GAGAS do
not prohibit auditors from issuing a separate report on the financial statements conforming only to the
requirements of AICPA standards. However, it may be advantageous to use a report issued in accordance
with GAGAS for these other purposes because it provides information on compliance with laws and
regulations and internal controls (as discussed below) that is not contained in a report issued in accordance
with AICPA standards.




                                                                                                              29
Government Auditing Standards


Reporting on Compliance with Laws and Regulations and on
Internal Control Over Financial Reporting
Revised July 1999

5.15 The second additional reporting standard for financial statement audits is

The report on the financial statements should either (1) describe the scope of the auditors' testing of
compliance with laws and regulations and internal control over financial reporting and present the
results of those tests or (2) refer to the separate report(s) containing that information. In presenting
the results of those tests, auditors should report fraud, illegal acts, other material noncompliance, and
reportable conditions in internal control over financial reporting.3 In some circumstances, auditors
should report fraud and illegal acts directly to parties external to the audited entity.

[NOTE 3: These responsibilities are in addition to and do not modify auditors’ responsibilities under AICPA
standards to (1) address the effect fraud or illegal acts may have on the report on the financial statements and
(2) determine that the audit committee or others with equivalent authority and responsibility are adequately
informed about fraud, illegal acts, and reportable conditions.]

5.16 Auditors may report on compliance with laws and regulations and internal control over financial
reporting in the report on the financial statements or in separate report(s). When auditors report on
compliance and internal control over financial reporting in the report on the financial statements, they should
include an introduction summarizing key findings in the audit of the financial statements and the related
compliance and internal control work. Auditors should not issue this introduction as a stand-alone report.

5.16.1 When auditors report separately (including separate reports bound in the same document) on
compliance with laws and regulations and internal control over financial reporting, the report on the financial
statements should state that they are issuing those additional reports. The report on the financial statements
should also state that the reports on compliance with laws and regulations and internal control over financial
reporting are an integral part of a GAGAS audit, and in considering the results of the audit, these reports
should be read along with the auditors' report on the financial statements.

Scope of Compliance and Internal Control Work

5.17 Auditors should report the scope of their testing of compliance with laws and regulations and of internal
control over financial reporting, including whether or not the tests they performed provided sufficient
evidence to support an opinion on compliance or internal control over financial reporting and whether the
auditors are providing such opinions.

Fraud, Illegal Acts, and Other Noncompliance
5.18 When auditors conclude, based on evidence obtained, that fraud or an illegal act either has occurred or is
likely to have occurred,4 they should report relevant information. Auditors need not report information about
fraud or an illegal act that is clearly inconsequential. Thus, auditors should present in a report the same fraud
and illegal acts that they report to audit committees under AICPA standards. Auditors should also report
other noncompliance (for example, a violation of a contract provision) that is material to the financial
statements.

[NOTE 4: Whether a particular act is, in fact, illegal may have to await final determination by a court of law.

                                                                                                               30
Government Auditing Standards


Thus, when auditors disclose matters that have led them to conclude that an illegal act is likely to have
occurred, they should take care not to imply that they have made a determination of illegality.]

5.19 In reporting material fraud, illegal acts, or other noncompliance, the auditors should place their findings
in proper perspective. To give the reader a basis for judging the prevalence and consequences of these
conditions, the instances identified should be related to the universe or the number of cases examined and be
quantified in terms of dollar value, if appropriate.5 In presenting material fraud, illegal acts, or other
noncompliance, auditors should follow chapter 7's report contents standards for objectives, scope, and
methodology; audit results; views of responsible officials; and its report presentation standards, as
appropriate. Auditors may provide less extensive disclosure of fraud and illegal acts that are not material in
either a quantitative or qualitative sense.6

[NOTE 5: Audit findings have often been regarded as containing the elements of criteria, condition, and
effect, plus cause when problems are found. However, the elements needed for a finding depend entirely on
the objectives of the audit. Reportable conditions and noncompliance found by the auditor may not always
have all of these elements fully developed, given the scope and objectives of the specific financial audit.
However, auditors should identify at least the condition, criteria, and possible asserted effect to provide
sufficient information to federal, state, and local officials to permit them to determine the effect and cause in
order to take prompt and proper corrective action.]

[NOTE 6: Chapter 4 provides guidance on factors that may influence auditors' materiality judgments in
audits of government entities or entities receiving government assistance. AICPA standards provide guidance
on the interaction of quantitative and qualitative considerations in materiality judgments.]

5.20 When auditors detect fraud, illegal acts, or other noncompliance that do not meet paragraph 5.18's
criteria for reporting, they should communicate those findings to the auditee, preferably in writing. If
auditors have communicated those findings in a management letter to top management, they should refer to
that management letter when they report on compliance. Auditors should document in their working papers
all communications to the auditee about fraud, illegal acts, and other noncompliance.

Direct Reporting of Fraud and Illegal Acts
5.21 GAGAS require auditors to report fraud or illegal acts directly to parties outside the auditee in two
circumstances, as discussed below. These requirements are in addition to any legal requirements for direct
reporting of fraud or illegal acts. Auditors should meet these requirements even if they have resigned or been
dismissed from the audit.7

[NOTE 7: Internal auditors auditing within the entity that employs them do not have a duty to report outside
that entity.]

5.22 The auditee may be required by law or regulation to report certain fraud or illegal acts to specified
external parties (for example, to a federal inspector general or a state attorney general). If auditors have
communicated such fraud or illegal acts to the auditee, and it fails to report them, then the auditors should
communicate their awareness of that failure to the auditee's governing body. If the auditee does not make the
required report as soon as practicable after the auditors' communication with its governing body, then the
auditors should report the fraud or illegal acts directly to the external party specified in the law or regulation.

5.23 Management is responsible for taking timely and appropriate steps to remedy fraud or illegal acts that
auditors report to it. When fraud or an illegal act involves assistance received directly or indirectly from a
government agency, auditors may have a duty to report it directly if management fails to take remedial steps.

                                                                                                                 31
Government Auditing Standards


If auditors conclude that such failure is likely to cause them to depart from the standard report on the
financial statements or resign from the audit, then they should communicate that conclusion to the auditee's
governing body. Then, if the auditee does not report the fraud or illegal act as soon as practicable to the
entity that provided the government assistance, the auditors should report the fraud or illegal act directly to
that entity.

5.24 In both of these situations, auditors should obtain sufficient, competent, and relevant evidence (for
example, by confirmation with outside parties) to corroborate assertions by management that it has reported
fraud or illegal acts. If they are unable to do so, then the auditors should report the fraud or illegal acts
directly as discussed above.

5.25 Chapter 4 reminds auditors that under some circumstances, laws, regulations, or policies may require
them to report promptly indications of certain types of fraud or illegal acts to law enforcement or
investigatory authorities. When auditors conclude that this type of fraud or illegal act either has occurred or
is likely to have occurred, they should ask those authorities and/or legal counsel if reporting certain
information about that fraud or illegal act would compromise investigative or legal proceedings. Auditors
should limit their reporting to matters that would not compromise those proceedings, such as information that
is already a part of the public record.

Deficiencies in Internal Control
5.26 Auditors should report deficiencies in internal control that they consider to be "reportable conditions" as
defined in AICPA standards. The following are examples of matters that may be reportable conditions:

a. absence of appropriate segregation of duties consistent with appropriate control objectives;

b. absence of appropriate reviews and approvals of transactions, accounting entries, or systems output;

c. inadequate provisions for the safeguarding of assets;

d. evidence of failure to safeguard assets from loss, damage, or misappropriation;

e. evidence that a system fails to provide complete and accurate output consistent with the auditee's control
objectives because of the misapplication of control procedures;

f. evidence of intentional override of internal control by those in authority to the detriment of the overall
objectives of the system;

g. evidence of failure to perform tasks that are part of internal control, such as reconciliations not prepared or
not timely prepared;

h. absence of a sufficient level of control consciousness within the organization;

i. significant deficiencies in the design or operation of internal control that could result in violations of laws
and regulations having a direct and material effect on the financial statements; and

j. failure to follow up and correct previously identified deficiencies in internal control. 8

[NOTE 8: Chapter 4's audit follow-up standard requires auditors to report the status of uncorrected material
findings and recommendations from prior audits that affect the financial statement audit.]

                                                                                                                     32
Government Auditing Standards


5.27 In reporting reportable conditions, auditors should identify those that are individually or cumulatively
material weaknesses.9 Auditors should follow chapter 7's report contents standards for objectives, scope, and
methodology; audit results; and views of responsible officials; and its report presentation standards, as
appropriate.

[NOTE 9: See footnote 5.]

5.28 When auditors detect deficiencies in internal control that are not reportable conditions, they should
communicate those deficiencies to the auditee, preferably in writing. If the auditors have communicated
other deficiencies in internal control in a management letter to top management, they should refer to that
management letter when they report on internal control. All communications to the auditee about
deficiencies in internal control should be documented in the working papers.



Privileged and Confidential Information
Revised July 1999

5.29 The third additional reporting standard for financial statement audits is

If certain information is prohibited from general disclosure, the audit report should state the nature of
the information omitted and the requirement that makes the omission necessary.

5.30 Certain information may be prohibited from general disclosure by federal, state, or local laws or
regulations. Such information may be provided on a need-to-know basis only to persons authorized by law or
regulation to receive it.

5.31 If such requirements prohibit auditors from including pertinent data in the report, they should state the
nature of the information omitted and the requirement that makes the omission necessary. The auditors
should obtain assurance that a valid requirement for the omission exists and, when appropriate, consult with
legal counsel.



Report Distribution
Revised July 1999

5.32 The fourth additional reporting standard for financial statement audits is

Written audit reports are to be submitted by the audit organization to the appropriate officials of the
auditee and to the appropriate officials of the organizations requiring or arranging for the audits,
including external funding organizations, unless legal restrictions prevent it. Copies of the reports
should also be sent to other officials who have legal oversight authority or who may be responsible for
acting on audit findings and recommendations and to others authorized to receive such reports. Unless
restricted by law or regulation, copies should be made available for public inspection.10

[NOTE 10: See the Single Audit Act Amendments of 1996 and Office of Management and Budget (OMB)
Circular A-133 for the distribution of reports on single audits of state and local governmental entities and
nonprofit organizations that receive federal awards.]

                                                                                                               33
Government Auditing Standards


5.33 Audit reports should be distributed in a timely manner to officials interested in the results. Such officials
include those designated by law or regulation to receive such reports, those responsible for acting on the
findings and recommendations, those of other levels of government that have provided assistance to the
auditee, and legislators. However, if the subject of the audit involves material that is classified for security
purposes or not releasable to particular parties or the public for other valid reasons, auditors may limit the
report distribution.

5.34 When public accountants are engaged, the engaging organization should ensure that the report is
distributed appropriately. If the public accountants are to make the distribution, the engagement agreement
should indicate which officials or organizations should receive the report.

5.35 Internal auditors should follow their entity's own arrangements and statutory requirements for
distribution. Usually, they report to their entity's top managers, who are responsible for distribution of the
report.



Financial Related Audits
Revised July 1999

5.36 Certain AICPA standards address specific types of financial related audits, and GAGAS incorporate
those standards, as discussed below:11

a. SAS No. 75, Engagements to Apply Agreed-Upon Procedures to Specific Elements, Accounts, or Items of a
Financial Statement;

b. SAS No. 62, Special Reports, for auditing specified elements, accounts, or items of a financial statement;

c. SAS No. 74, Compliance Auditing Considerations in Audits of Governmental Entities and Recipients of
Governmental Financial Assistance, for testing compliance with laws and regulations applicable to federal
financial assistance programs;

d. SAS No. 70, Reports on the Processing of Transactions by Service Organizations, for examining
descriptions of internal control of service organizations that process transactions for others;

e. Statement on Standards for Attestation Engagements (SSAE) No. 1, Attestation Standards, as amended by
SSAE No. 9, Amendments to Statement on Standards for Attestation Engagements Nos. 1, 2, and 3, for
examining or reviewing an entity's assertions about financial related matters not specifically addressed in
other AICPA standards;

f. SSAE No. 2, Reporting on an Entity's Internal Control Over Financial Reporting, as amended by SSAE
No. 9, Amendments to Statement on Standards for Attestation Engagements Nos. 1, 2, and 3, for examining
an entity's assertions about its internal control over financial reporting and/or safeguarding assets;

g. SSAE No. 3, Compliance Attestation, as amended by SSAE No. 9, Amendments to Statement on Standards
for Attestation Engagements Nos. 1, 2, and 3, for (1) examining or applying agreed-upon procedures to an
entity's assertions about compliance with specified requirements or (2) applying agreed-upon procedures to
an entity's assertions about internal control over compliance with laws and regulations; and

h. SSAE No. 4, Agreed-Upon Procedures Engagements, for applying agreed-upon procedures to (1) an

                                                                                                                 34
Government Auditing Standards


entity’s assertions about internal control over financial reporting and/or safeguarding of assets or (2) an entity’s
assertions about financial related matters not specifically addressed in other AICPA standards.

[NOTE 11: GAGAS incorporate any new AICPA reporting standards relevant to financial related audits
unless GAO excludes them by formal announcement.]

5.37 Besides following applicable AICPA standards, auditors should follow this chapter's first (GAGAS
reference), third (privileged and confidential information), and fourth (report distribution) additional
standards of reporting. They should apply or adapt the other standards and guidance in this chapter as
appropriate in the circumstances. For financial related audits not described above, auditors should follow the
reporting standards for performance audits in chapter 7. 12

[NOTE 12: Chapter 2 provides examples of other types of financial related audits.]


                         If you have questions about Government Auditing Standards,
                                     send email to yellowbook@gao.gov.


                                                   Updated 8/13/99




                                                                                                                35
    Chapter 6: Field Work Standards for Performance
                         Audits


Purpose
6.1 This chapter prescribes field work standards for performance audits. These standards also apply to some
financial related audits, as discussed in chapter 4.



Planning
6.2 The first field work standard for performance audits is:

Work is to be adequately planned.

6.3 In planning, auditors should define the audit's objectives and the scope and methodology to achieve those
objectives. The objectives are what the audit is to accomplish. They identify the audit subjects and
performance aspects to be included, as well as the potential finding and reporting elements that the auditors
expect to develop.1 Audit objectives can be thought of as questions about the program2 that auditors seek to
answer. Scope is the boundary of the audit. It addresses such things as the period and number of locations to
be covered. The methodology comprises the work in data gathering and in analytical methods auditors will
do to achieve the objectives.

[NOTE 1: See discussion of the elements of a finding in paragraphs 6.49 through 6.52.]

[NOTE 2: Generally accepted government auditing standards (GAGAS) are standards for audit of
government organizations, programs, activities, and functions. This chapter uses only the term "program";
however, the concepts presented also apply to audits of organizations, activities, and functions. ]

6.4 Auditors should design the methodology to provide sufficient, competent, and relevant evidence to
achieve the objectives of the audit. Methodology includes not only the nature of the auditors' procedures, but
also their extent (for example, sample size).

6.5 In planning a performance audit, auditors should:

a. Consider significance and the needs of potential users of the audit report. (See paragraphs 6.7 and 6.8.)

b. Obtain an understanding of the program to be audited. (See paragraphs 6.9 and 6.10.)

c. Consider legal and regulatory requirements. (See paragraphs 6.26 through 6.38.)

d. Consider management controls. (See paragraphs 6.39 through 6.45.)

e. Identify criteria needed to evaluate matters subject to audit. (See paragraph 6.11.)



                                                                                                               36
Government Auditing Standards


f. Identify significant findings and recommendations from previous audits that could affect the current audit
objectives. Auditors should determine if management has corrected the conditions causing those findings and
implemented those recommendations. (See paragraphs 6.12 and 6.13.)

g. Identify potential sources of data that could be used as audit evidence and consider the validity and
reliability of these data, including data collected by the audited entity, data generated by the auditors, or data
provided by third parties. (See paragraphs 6.53 through 6.62.)

h. Consider whether the work of other auditors and experts may be used to satisfy some of the auditors'
objectives. (See paragraphs 6.14 through 6.16.)

i. Provide sufficient staff and other resources to do the audit. (See paragraphs 6.17 and 6.18.)

j. Prepare a written audit plan. (See paragraphs 6.19 through 6.21.)

6.6 Planning should continue throughout the audit. Audit objectives, scope, and methodologies are not
determined in isolation. Auditors determine these three elements of the audit plan together, as the
considerations in determining each often overlap.

Significance and User Needs
6.7 Auditors should consider significance in planning, performing, and reporting on performance audits. The
significance of a matter is its relative importance to the audit objectives and potential users of the audit
report. Qualitative, as well as quantitative, factors are important in determining significance. Qualitative
factors can include

a. visibility and sensitivity of the program under audit,

b. newness of the program or changes in its conditions,

c. role of the audit in providing information that can improve public accountability and decision-making, and

d. level and extent of review or other forms of independent oversight.

6.8 One group of users of the auditors' report is government officials who may have authorized or requested
the audit. Another important user of the auditors' report is the auditee, which is responsible for acting on the
auditors' recommendations. Other potential users of the auditors' report include government officials (other
than those who may have authorized or requested the audit), the media, interest groups, and individual
citizens. These other potential users may have, in addition to an interest in the program, an ability to
influence the conduct of the program. Thus, an awareness of these potential users' interests and influence can
help auditors understand why the program operates the way it does. This awareness can also help auditors
judge whether possible findings could be significant to these other users.

Understanding the Program
6.9 AAuditors should obtain an understanding of the program to be audited to help assess, among other
matters, the significance of possible audit objectives and the feasibility of achieving them. The auditors'
understanding may come from knowledge they already have about the program and knowledge they gain
from inquiries and observations they make in planning the audit. The extent and breadth of those inquiries
and observations will vary among audits, as will the need to understand individual aspects of the program,

                                                                                                                 37
Government Auditing Standards


such as the following.

a. Laws and regulations: Government programs usually are created by law and are subject to more specific
laws and regulations than the private sector. For example, laws and regulations usually set forth what is to
be done, who is to do it, the purpose to be achieved, the population to be served, and how much can be spent
on what. Thus, understanding the laws establishing a program can be essential to understanding the program
itself. Obtaining that understanding may also be a necessary step in identifying provisions of laws and
regulations significant to audit objectives.

b. Purpose and goals: Purpose is the result or effect that is intended or desired, and can exist without being
expressly stated. Goals quantify the level of performance intended or desired. Legislatures set the program
purpose when they establish a program; however, management is expected to set goals for program efforts,
operations, outputs, and outcomes. Auditors may use the purpose and goals as criteria for assessing program
performance.

c. Efforts: Efforts are the amount of resources (in terms of money, material, personnel, and so forth) that are
put into a program. These resources may come from within or outside the entity operating the program.
Measures of efforts can have a number of dimensions, such as cost, timing, and quality. Examples of
measures of efforts are dollars, employee-hours, and square feet of building space.

d. Program operations: Program operations are the strategies, processes, and activities the auditee uses to
convert efforts into outputs. Program operations are subject to management controls, which are discussed
later in this chapter.

e. Outputs: Outputs are the quantity of goods and services provided. Examples of measures of output are
tons of solid waste processed, number of students graduated, and number of students graduated who have met
a specified standard of achievement.

f. Outcomes: Outcomes are accomplishments or results that occur (at least partially) because of services
provided. Outcomes can be viewed as ranging from immediate outcomes to long-term outcomes. For
example, an immediate outcome of a job training program and an indicator of its effectiveness might be the
number of program graduates placed in jobs. That program's ultimate outcome and test of its effectiveness
depends on whether program graduates are more likely to remain employed than similar persons not in the
program. Outcomes may be intended or unintended, and they may be influenced by cultural, economic,
physical, or technological factors external to the program. Auditors may use approaches drawn from the field
of program evaluation to isolate the effects of the program from those of other influences.

6.10 One approach to setting audit objectives is to relate the elements of a program to the types of
performance audits discussed in chapter 2. For example, audits concerned with economy could focus on
efforts: Were resources obtained at an optimal cost and at an appropriate level of quality? Audits concerned
with efficiency could focus on the program operations or the relationship between efforts (resources used)
and either outputs or outcomes to determine the cost per unit of output or outcome. Program audits could be
concerned with determining whether program outcomes met specified goals or whether outcomes were better
than they would have been without the program. Any type of performance audit could encompass program
operations if auditors are looking for reasons why the program was successful or not.

Criteria
6.11 Criteria are the standards used to determine whether a program meets or exceeds expectations. Criteria
provide a context for understanding the results of the audit. The audit plan, where possible, should state the

                                                                                                              38
Government Auditing Standards


criteria to be used. In selecting criteria, auditors have a responsibility to use criteria that are reasonable,
attainable, and relevant to the matters being audited. The following are some examples of possible criteria:

a. purpose or goals prescribed by law or regulation or set by management,

b. technically developed standards or norms,

c. expert opinions,

d. prior years' performance,

e. performance of similar entities, and

f. performance in the private sector.

Audit Follow-Up
6.12 Auditors should follow up on significant findings and recommendations from previous audits that could
affect the audit objectives. They should do this to determine whether timely and appropriate corrective
actions have been taken by auditee officials. The audit report should disclose the status of uncorrected
significant findings and recommendations from prior audits that affect the audit objectives.

6.13 Much of the benefit from audit work is not in the findings reported or the recommendations made, but in
their effective resolution. Auditee management is responsible for resolving audit findings and
recommendations, and having a process to track their status can help it fulfill this responsibility. If
management does not have such a process, auditors may wish to establish their own. Continued attention to
significant findings and recommendations can help auditors assure that the benefits of their work are realized.

Considering Others' Work

6.14 Auditors should determine if other auditors have previously done, or are doing, audits of the program or
the entity that operates it. Whether other auditors have done performance audits or financial audits, they may
be useful sources of information for planning and performing the audit. If other auditors have identified areas
that warrant further study, their work may influence the auditors' selection of objectives. The availability of
other auditors' work may also influence the selection of methodology, as the auditors may be able to rely on
that work to limit the extent of their own testing.

6.15 If auditors intend to rely on the work of other auditors, they should perform procedures that provide a
sufficient basis for that reliance. Auditors can obtain evidence of other auditors' qualifications 3 and
independence through prior experience, inquiry, and/or review of the other auditors' external quality control
review report. Auditors can determine the sufficiency, relevance, and competence of other auditors' evidence
by reviewing their report, audit program, or working papers, and/or making supplemental tests of their work.
The nature and extent of evidence needed will depend on the significance of the other auditors' work and on
whether the auditors will refer to that work in their report.

[NOTE 3: Auditors from another country engaged to conduct audits in their country should meet the
professional qualifications to practice under that country's laws and regulations or other acceptable standards,
such as those issued by the International Organization of Supreme Audit Institutions. Also see the
International Federation of Accountants' International Standards on Auditing.]


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Government Auditing Standards


6.16 Auditors face similar considerations when relying on the work of nonauditors (consultants, experts,
specialists, and so forth). In addition, auditors should obtain an understanding of the methods and significant
assumptions used by the nonauditors.

Staff and Other Resources

6.17 Staff planning should include:

a. Assigning staff with the appropriate skills and knowledge for the job.

b. Assigning an adequate number of experienced staff and supervisors to the audit. Consultants should be
used when necessary.

c. Providing for on-the-job training of staff.

6.18 The availability of staff and other resources is an important consideration in establishing the objectives,
scope, and methodology. For example, limitations on travel funds may preclude auditors from visiting
certain locations, or lack of expertise in a particular methodology may preclude auditors from undertaking
certain objectives. Auditors may be able to overcome such limitations by use of staff from local offices or by
engaging consultants with the necessary expertise.

Written Audit Plan
6.19 A written audit plan should be prepared for each audit. The form and content of the written audit plan
will vary among audits. The plan should include an audit program or a memorandum or other appropriate
documentation of key decisions about the audit objectives, scope, and methodology and of the auditors' basis
for those decisions. It should be updated, as necessary, to reflect any significant changes to the plan made
during the audit.

6.20 Documenting the audit plan is an opportunity for the auditors to review the work done in planning the
audit to determine whether

a. the proposed audit objectives are likely to result in a useful report,

b. the proposed audit scope and methodology are adequate to satisfy the audit objectives, and

c. sufficient staff and other resources have been made available to perform the audit.

6.21 Written audit plans may include:

a. Information about the legal authority for the audited program, its history and current objectives, its
principal locations, and other background that can help auditors understand and carry out the audit plan.

b. Information about the responsibilities of each audit team (such as preparing audit programs, conducting
audit work, supervising audit work, drafting reports, handling auditee comments, and processing the final
report), which can help auditors when the work is conducted at several different locations. In these audits,
use of comparable audit methods and procedures can help make the data obtained from participating
locations comparable.

c. Audit programs describing procedures to accomplish the audit objectives and providing a systematic basis

                                                                                                               40
Government Auditing Standards


for assigning work to staff and for summarizing the work performed.

d. The general format of the audit report and the types of information to be included, which can help auditors
focus their field work on the information to be reported.



Supervision
6.22 The second field work standard for performance audits is:

Staff are to be properly supervised.

6.23 Supervision involves directing the efforts of auditors and others4 who are involved in the audit to
determine whether the audit objectives are being accomplished. Elements of supervision include instructing
staff members, keeping informed of significant problems encountered, reviewing the work performed, and
providing effective on-the-job training.

[NOTE 4: Others involved in accomplishing the objectives of the audit include external consultants and
specialists.]

6.24 Supervisors should satisfy themselves that staff members clearly understand what work they are to do,
why the work is to be conducted, and what it is expected to accomplish. With experienced staff, supervisors
may outline the scope of the work and leave details to assistants. With a less experienced staff, supervisors
may have to specify not only techniques for analyzing data but also how to gather it.

6.25 The nature of the review of audit work may vary depending on the significance of the work or the
experience of the staff. For example, it may be appropriate to have experienced staff auditors review much of
the work of other staff with similar experience.


Compliance with Laws and Regulations
6.26 The third field work standard for performance audits is:

When laws, regulations, and other compliance requirements are significant to audit objectives,
auditors should design the audit to provide reasonable assurance about compliance with them. In all
performance audits, auditors should be alert to situations or transactions that could be indicative of
illegal acts or abuse.

6.27 The following paragraphs elaborate on the requirements of this standard. They also discuss ways
auditors obtain information about laws, regulations, and other compliance requirements; and the limitations
of performance auditing in detecting illegal acts and abuse.

Illegal Acts and Other Noncompliance
6.28 Auditors should design the audit to provide reasonable assurance about compliance with laws and
regulations that are significant to audit objectives. This requires determining if laws and regulations are
significant to the audit objectives and, if they are, assessing the risk that significant illegal acts could occur.5
Based on that risk assessment, the auditors design and perform procedures to provide reasonable assurance of
detecting significant illegal acts.

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Government Auditing Standards


[NOTE 5: Illegal acts are violations of laws or regulations.]

6.29 It is not practical to set precise standards for determining if laws and regulations are significant to audit
objectives because government programs are subject to so many laws and regulations, and audit objectives
vary widely. However, auditors may find the following approach helpful in making that determination:

a. Reduce each audit objective to questions about specific aspects of the program being audited (that is,
purpose and goals, efforts, program operations, outputs, and outcomes, as discussed in paragraph 6.9).

b. Identify laws and regulations that directly address specific aspects of the program included in the audit
objectives' questions.

c. Determine if violations of those laws and regulations could significantly affect the auditors' answers to the
questions encompassed in the audit objectives. If they could, then those laws and regulations are likely to be
significant to the audit objectives.

6.30 The following are examples of types of laws and regulations that can be significant to the objectives of
economy and efficiency audits and of program audits.

a. Economy and efficiency: Laws and regulations that could significantly affect the acquisition, protection,
and use of the entity's resources, and the quantity, quality, timeliness, and cost of the products and services it
produces and delivers.

b.Program: Laws and regulations pertaining to the purpose of the program, the manner in which it is to be
delivered, and the population it is to serve.

6.31 In planning tests of compliance with significant laws and regulations, auditors assess the risk that illegal
acts could occur. That risk may be affected by such factors as the complexity of the laws and regulations or
their newness. The auditors' assessment of risk includes consideration of whether the entity has controls that
are effective in preventing or detecting illegal acts. Management is responsible for establishing effective
controls to ensure compliance with laws and regulations. If auditors obtain sufficient evidence of the
effectiveness of these controls, they can reduce the extent of their tests of compliance.

6.32 Auditors should be alert to situations or transactions that could be indicative of illegal acts. When
information comes to the auditors' attention (through audit procedures, tips, or other means) indicating that
illegal acts may have occurred, auditors should consider whether the possible illegal acts could significantly
affect the audit results. If they could, the auditors should extend the audit steps and procedures, as necessary,
(1) to determine if the illegal acts have or are likely to have occurred and (2) if so, to determine their effect on
the audit results.

6.33 Auditors should exercise due professional care in pursuing indications of possible illegal acts so as not
to interfere with potential investigations, legal proceedings, or both. Under some circumstances, laws,
regulations, or policies require auditors to report indications of certain types of illegal acts to law enforcement
or investigatory authorities before extending audit steps and procedures. Auditors may also be required to
withdraw from or defer further work on the audit or a portion of the audit in order not to interfere with an
investigation.

6.34 The term noncompliance has a broader meaning than illegal acts. Noncompliance includes not only
illegal acts, but also violations of provisions of contracts or grant agreements. Like illegal acts, these other
types of noncompliance can be significant to audit objectives. The auditors' considerations in planning and
performing tests of compliance with provisions of contracts or grant agreements are similar to those discussed

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Government Auditing Standards


in paragraphs 6.28 through 6.33.

Abuse
6.35 Abuse is distinct from illegal acts and other noncompliance. When abuse occurs, no law, regulation,
contract provision, or grant agreement is violated. Rather, the conduct of a government program falls far
short of societal expectations for prudent behavior. Auditors should be alert to situations or transactions that
could be indicative of abuse. When information comes to the auditors' attention (through audit procedures,
tips, or other means) indicating that abuse may have occurred, auditors should consider whether the possible
abuse could significantly affect the audit results. If it could, the auditors should extend the audit steps and
procedures, as necessary, (1) to determine if the abuse occurred and (2) if so, to determine its effect on the
audit results. However, because the determination of abuse is so subjective, auditors are not expected to
provide reasonable assurance of detecting it.

Obtaining Information About Laws, Regulations, and Other Compliance
Requirements

6.36 Auditors' training, experience, and understanding of the program being audited may provide a basis for
recognition that some acts coming to their attention may be illegal. Whether an act, in fact, is illegal is a
determination normally beyond auditors' professional capacity. However, auditors are responsible for being
aware of vulnerabilities to fraud6 associated with the area being audited in order to be able to identify
indications that fraud may have occurred. In some circumstances, conditions such as the following might
indicate a heightened risk of fraud:

a. Auditees offer unreasonable explanations to the auditors' inquiries.

b. Auditees are annoyed at reasonable questions by auditors.

c. Auditees refuse to provide records.

d. Auditees refuse to take vacations or accept promotions.

[NOTE 6: Fraud is a type of illegal act involving the obtaining of something of value through willful
misrepresentation.]

6.37 Auditors may find it necessary to rely on the work of legal counsel in (1) determining those laws and
regulations that are significant to the audit objectives, (2) designing tests of compliance with laws and
regulations, and (3) evaluating the results of those tests.7 Auditors also may find it necessary to rely on the
work of legal counsel when audit objectives require testing compliance with provisions of contracts or grant
agreements. Depending on the circumstances of the audit, auditors may find it necessary to obtain
information on compliance matters from others, such as investigative staff, audit officials of other
government entities that provided assistance to the auditee, or the applicable law enforcement authority.

[NOTE 7: Paragraphs 6.14 through 6.16 discuss relying on the work of others.]

Limitations of An Audit
6.38 An audit made in accordance with these standards provides reasonable assurance that its objectives have
been achieved; it does not guarantee the discovery of illegal acts or abuse. Nor does the subsequent

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discovery of illegal acts or abuse committed during the audit period necessarily mean that the auditors'
performance was inadequate, provided the audit was made in accordance with these standards.



Management Controls
6.39 The fourth field work standard for performance audits is:

Auditors should obtain an understanding of management controls that are relevant to the audit. When
management controls are significant to audit objectives, auditors should obtain sufficient evidence to
support their judgments about those controls.

6.40 Management is responsible for establishing effective management controls. The lack of administrative
continuity in government units because of continuing changes in elected legislative bodies and in
administrative organizations increases the need for effective management controls.

6.41 Management controls, in the broadest sense, include the plan of organization, methods, and procedures
adopted by management to ensure that its goals are met. Management controls include the processes for
planning, organizing, directing, and controlling program operations. They include the systems for measuring,
reporting, and monitoring program performance. The following classification of management controls is
intended to help auditors focus on understanding management controls and in determining their significance
to the audit objectives.

a.Program operations: Controls over program operations include policies and procedures that management
has implemented to reasonably ensure that a program meets its objectives. Understanding these controls can
help auditors understand the program operations that convert efforts to outputs.

b.Validity and reliability of data: Controls over the validity and reliability of data include policies and
procedures that management has implemented to reasonably ensure that valid and reliable data are obtained,
maintained, and fairly disclosed in reports. These controls help assure management that it is getting valid and
reliable information about whether programs are operating properly. Understanding these controls can help
auditors (1) assess the risk that the data gathered by the entity may not be valid and reliable and (2) design
appropriate tests of the data.

c.Compliance with laws and regulations: Controls over compliance with laws and regulations include
policies and procedures that management has implemented to reasonably ensure that resource use is
consistent with laws and regulations. Understanding the controls relevant to compliance with those laws and
regulations that the auditors have determined are significant can help auditors assess the risk of illegal acts.

d. Safeguarding resources: Controls over the safeguarding of resources include policies and procedures that
management has implemented to reasonably ensure that resources are safeguarded against waste, loss, and
misuse. Understanding these controls can help auditors plan economy and efficiency audits.

6.42 Auditors can obtain an understanding of management controls through inquiries, observations,
inspection of documents and records, or review of other auditors' reports. The procedures auditors perform
to obtain an understanding of management controls will vary among audits. One factor influencing the extent
of these procedures is the auditors' knowledge about management controls gained in prior audits. Also, the
need to understand management controls will depend on the particular aspects of the program the auditors
consider in setting objectives, scope, and methodology. The following are examples of how the auditors'
understanding of management controls can influence the audit plan.

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Government Auditing Standards


a.Objectives: Poorly controlled aspects of a program have higher risk of failure, so they may be more
significant than others in terms of where auditors would want to focus their efforts.

b.Scope: Poor controls in a certain location may lead auditors to target their efforts there.

c.Methodology: Effective controls over collecting, summarizing, and reporting data may enable auditors to
limit the extent of their direct testing of data validity and reliability. In contrast, poor controls may lead
auditors to perform more direct testing of the data, look for data from outside the entity, or develop their own
data.

6.43 The need to test management controls depends on their significance to the audit objectives. The
following are examples of circumstances where management controls can be significant to audit objectives:

a. In determining the cause of unsatisfactory performance if that unsatisfactory performance could result from
weaknesses in specific management controls.

b. When assessing the validity and reliability of performance measures developed by the audited entity.
Effective management controls over collecting, summarizing, and reporting data will help ensure valid and
reliable performance measures.

6.44 Internal auditing is an important part of management control. When an assessment of management
controls is called for, the work of the internal auditors can be used to help provide reasonable assurance that
management controls are functioning properly and to prevent duplication of effort.

6.45 Considering the wide variety of government programs, no single pattern for internal audit activities can
be specified. Many government entities have these activities identified by other names, such as inspection,
appraisal, investigation, organization and methods, or management analysis. These activities assist
management by reviewing selected functions.



Evidence
6.46 The fifth field work standard for performance audits is:

Sufficient, competent, and relevant evidence is to be obtained to afford a reasonable basis for the auditors'
findings and conclusions. A record of the auditors' work should be retained in the form of working papers.
Working papers should contain sufficient information to enable an experienced auditor having no previous
connection with the audit to ascertain from them the evidence that supports the auditors' significant
conclusions and judgments.8

[NOTE 8: The nature of this documentation will vary with the nature of the work performed. For example,
when this work includes examination of auditee records, the working papers should describe those records so
that an experienced auditor would be able to examine those same records. Auditors may meet this
requirement by listing file numbers, case numbers, or other means of identifying specific documents they
examined. They are not required to include in the working papers copies of documents they examined, nor
are they required to list detailed information from those documents.]

6.47 Evidence may be categorized as physical, documentary, testimonial, and analytical. Physical evidence is
obtained by auditors' direct inspection or observation of people, property, or events. Such evidence may be
documented in memoranda, photographs, drawings, charts, maps, or physical samples. Documentary

                                                                                                                45
Government Auditing Standards


evidence consists of created information such as letters, contracts, accounting records, invoices, and
management information on performance. Testimonial evidence is obtained through inquiries, interviews, or
questionnaires. Analytical evidence includes computations, comparisons, separation of information into
components, and rational arguments.

6.48 The guidance in the following paragraphs is intended to help auditors judge the quality and quantity of
evidence needed to satisfy audit objectives. Paragraphs 6.49 through 6.52 describe the elements of an audit
finding. Paragraphs 6.53 through 6.62 provide guidance to help auditors determine what constitutes
sufficient, competent, and relevant evidence to support their findings and conclusions. Finally, paragraphs
6.63 through 6.65 provide guidance on how to document that evidence.

Audit Findings
6.49 Audit findings often have been regarded as containing the elements of criteria, condition, and effect,
plus cause when problems are found. However, the elements needed for a finding depend entirely on the
objectives of the audit. Thus, a finding or set of findings is complete to the extent that the audit objectives are
satisfied and the report clearly relates those objectives to the finding's elements. Criteria are discussed in
paragraph 6.11; the other elements of a finding--condition, effect, and cause--are discussed in the following
paragraphs.

6.50Condition is a situation that exists. It has been determined and documented during the audit.

6.51Effect as two meanings, which depend on the audit objectives. When the auditors' objectives include
identifying the actual or potential consequences of a condition that varies (either positively or negatively)
from the criteria identified in the audit, "effect" is a measure of those consequences. Auditors often use effect
in this sense to demonstrate the need for corrective action in response to identified problems. When the
auditors' objectives include estimating the extent to which a program has caused changes in physical, social,
or economic conditions, "effect" is a measure of the impact achieved by the program. Here, effect is the
extent to which positive or negative changes in actual physical, social, or economic conditions can be
identified and attributed to program operations.

6.52 Like effect, cause also has two meanings, which depend on the audit objectives. When the auditors'
objectives include explaining why the poor (or good) performance determined in the audit happened, the
reasons for that performance are referred to as "cause." Identifying the cause of problems can assist auditors
in making constructive recommendations for correction. Because problems can result from a number of
plausible factors, the recommendation can be more persuasive if auditors can clearly demonstrate and explain
with evidence and reasoning the link between the problems and the factor or factors they identified as the
cause. When the auditors' objectives include estimating the program's effect on changes in physical, social,
or economic conditions, they seek evidence of the extent to which the program itself is the "cause" of those
changes.

Tests of Evidence
6.53 Evidence should be sufficient, competent, and relevant. Evidence is sufficient if there is enough of it to
support the auditors' findings. In determining the sufficiency of evidence it may be helpful to ask such
questions as: Is there enough evidence to persuade a reasonable person of the validity of the findings? When
appropriate, statistical methods may be used to establish sufficiency. Evidence used to support a finding is
relevant if it has a logical, sensible relationship to that finding. Evidence is competent to the extent that it is
consistent with fact (that is, evidence is competent if it is valid).


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Government Auditing Standards


6.54 The following presumptions are useful in judging the competence of evidence. However, these
presumptions are not to be considered sufficient in themselves to determine competence.

a. Evidence obtained from a credible third party is more competent than that secured from the auditee.

b. Evidence developed under an effective system of management controls is more competent than that
obtained where such controls are weak or nonexistent.

c. Evidence obtained through the auditors' direct physical examination, observation, computation, and
inspection is more competent than evidence obtained indirectly.

d. Original documents provide more competent evidence than do copies.

e. Testimonial evidence obtained under conditions where persons may speak freely is more competent than
testimonial evidence obtained under compromising conditions (for example, where the persons may be
intimidated).

f. Testimonial evidence obtained from an individual who is not biased or has complete knowledge about the
area is more competent than testimonial evidence obtained from an individual who is biased or has only
partial knowledge about the area.

6.55 Auditors may find it useful to obtain from officials of the auditee written representations concerning the
competence of the evidence they obtain. Written representations ordinarily confirm oral representations
given to auditors, indicate and document the continuing appropriateness of such representations, and reduce
the possibility of misunderstanding concerning the matters that are the subject of the representations.

6.56 The auditors' approach to determining the sufficiency, competence, and relevance of evidence depends
on the source of the information that constitutes the evidence. Information sources include original data
gathered by auditors and existing data gathered by either the auditee or a third party. Data from any of these
sources may be obtained from computer-based systems.

6.57Data Gathered by Auditors. Data gathered by auditors include the auditors' own observations and
measurements. Among the methods for gathering this type of data are questionnaires, structured interviews,
direct observations, and computations. The design of these methods and the skill of the auditors applying
them are the keys to ensuring that these data constitute sufficient, competent, and relevant evidence. When
these methods are applied to determine cause, auditors are concerned with eliminating rival explanations.

6.58Data Gathered by the Auditee. Auditors can use data gathered by the auditee as part of their evidence.
Auditors may determine the validity and reliability of these data by direct tests of the data. Auditors can
reduce the direct tests of the data if they test the effectiveness of the entity's controls over the validity and
reliability of the data, and these tests support the conclusion that the controls are effective. The nature and
extent of testing of the data will depend on the significance of the data to support auditors' findings.

6.59 When the auditors' tests of data disclose errors in the data, or when they are unable to obtain sufficient,
competent, and relevant evidence about the validity and reliability of the data, they may find it necessary to

a. seek evidence from other sources,

b. redefine the audit's objectives to eliminate the need to use the data, or

c. use the data, but clearly indicate in their report the data's limitations and refrain from making unwarranted

                                                                                                                    47
Government Auditing Standards


conclusions or recommendations.

6.60Data Gathered by Third Parties. The auditors' evidence may also include data gathered by third parties.
In some cases, these data may have been audited by others, or the auditors may be able to audit the data
themselves. In other cases, however, it will not be practical to obtain evidence of the data's validity and
reliability.

6.61 How the use of unaudited third-party data affects the auditors' report depends on the data's significance
to the auditors' findings.

6.62 Validity and Reliability of Data From Computer-Based Systems. Auditors should obtain sufficient,
competent, and relevant evidence that computer-processed data are valid and reliable when those data are
significant to the auditors' findings. 9 This work is necessary regardless of whether the data are provided to
auditors or auditors independently extract them.10 Auditors should determine if other auditors have worked
to establish the validity and reliability of the data or the effectiveness of the controls over the system that
produced the data. If they have, auditors may be able to use that work. If not, auditors may determine the
validity and reliability of computer-processed data by direct tests of the data. Auditors can reduce the direct
tests of the data if they test the effectiveness of general and application controls over computer-processed
data, and these tests support the conclusion that the controls are effective.11

[NOTE 9: When the reliability of a computer-based system is the primary objective of the audit, the auditors
should conduct a review of the system's general and application controls.]

[NOTE 10: When computer-processed data are used by the auditor, or included in the report, for background
or informational purposes and are not significant to the auditors' findings, citing the source of the data and
stating that they were not verified will satisfy the reporting standards for accuracy and completeness set forth
in this statement.]

[NOTE 11: A GAO guide, Assessing the Reliability of Computer-Based Data (GAO/OP-8.1.3, September
1990), provides guidance on the following key steps: 1) determining how computer-based data will be used
and how they will affect the audit objectives, (2) finding out what is known about the data and the system that
produced them, (3) obtaining an understanding of relevant system controls, which can reduce risk to an
acceptable level, (4) testing the data for reliability, and (5) disclosing the data source and how data reliability
was established or qualifying the report if data reliability could not be established.]

Working Papers
6.63 Working papers serve three purposes. They provide the principal support for the auditors' report, aid the
auditors in conducting and supervising the audit, and allow others to review the audit's quality. This third
purpose is important because audits done in accordance with GAGAS often are subject to review by other
auditors and by oversight officials. Working papers allow for the review of audit quality by providing the
reviewer written documentation of the evidence supporting the auditors' significant conclusions and
judgments.

6.64 Working papers should contain

a. the objectives, scope, and methodology, including any sampling criteria used;

b. documentation of the work performed to support significant conclusions and judgments; and



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c. evidence of supervisory review of the work performed.


6.65 One factor underlying GAGAS audits is that federal, state, and local governments and other
organizations cooperate in auditing programs of common interest so that auditors may use others' work and
avoid duplicate audit efforts. Arrangements should be made so that working papers will be made available,
upon request, to other auditors. To facilitate reviews of audit quality and reliance by other auditors on the
auditors' work, contractual arrangements for GAGAS audits should provide for access to working papers.
Audit organizations should also establish reasonable policies and procedures for the safe custody and
retention of working papers for a time sufficient to satisfy legal and administrative requirements.


                        If you have questions about Government Auditing Standards,
                                    send email to yellowbook@gao.gov.


                                                  Updated 8/13/99




                                                                                                                49
     Chapter 7: Reporting Standards for Performance
                         Audits


Purpose
7.1 This chapter prescribes standards of reporting for performance audits. The report "contents" and
"presentation" standards also apply to some financial related audits, as discussed in chapter 5.



Form
7.2 The first reporting standard for performance audits is:

Auditors should prepare written audit reports communicating the results of each audit.

7.3 Written reports (1) communicate the results of audits to officials at all levels of government, (2) make the
results less susceptible to misunderstanding, (3) make the results available for public inspection, and (4)
facilitate follow-up to determine whether appropriate corrective actions have been taken. The need to
maintain public accountability for government programs demands that audit reports be written.1

[NOTE 1: Audit reports may be presented on other media that are retrievable by report users and the audit
organization. Retrievable audit reports include those which are in electronic or video formats.]

7.4 This standard is not intended to limit or prevent discussion of findings, judgments, conclusions, and
recommendations with persons who have responsibilities involving the area being audited. On the contrary,
such discussions are encouraged.

7.5 When an audit is terminated prior to completion, auditors should communicate the termination to the
auditee and other appropriate officials, preferably in writing. Auditors should also write a memorandum for
the record, summarizing the results of the work and explaining why the audit was terminated.



Timeliness
7.6 The second reporting standard for performance audits is:

Auditors should appropriately issue the reports to make the information available for timely use by
management, legislative officials, and other interested parties.

7.7 To be of maximum use, the report must be timely. A carefully prepared report may be of little value to
decisionmakers if it arrives too late. Therefore, auditors should plan for the appropriate issuance of the audit
report and conduct the audit with this goal in mind.

7.8 The auditors should consider interim reporting, during the audit, of significant matters to appropriate


                                                                                                               50
Government Auditing Standards


officials. Such communication, which may be oral or written, is not a substitute for a final report, but it does
alert officials to matters needing immediate attention and permits them to correct them before the final report
is completed.



Report Contents
7.9 The third reporting standard for performance audits covers the report contents.

Objectives, Scope, and Methodology
7.10Auditors should report the audit objectives and the audit scope and methodology.

7.11 Knowledge of the objectives of the audit, as well as of the audit scope and methodology for achieving
the objectives, is needed by readers to understand the purpose of the audit, judge the merits of the audit work
and what is reported, and understand significant limitations.

Objectives

7.12 In reporting the audit's objectives, auditors should explain why the audit was made and state what the
report is to accomplish. Articulating what the report is to accomplish normally involves identifying the audit
subject and the aspect of performance examined, and because what is reported depends on the objectives,
communicating what finding elements are discussed and whether conclusions and recommendations are
given.

7.13 To preclude misunderstanding in cases where the objectives are particularly limited and broader
objectives can be inferred, it may be necessary to state objectives that were not pursued.

Scope and Methodology

7.14 In reporting the scope of the audit, auditors should describe the depth and coverage of work conducted
to accomplish the audit's objectives. Auditors should, as applicable, explain the relationship between the
universe and what was audited; identify organizations, geographic locations, and the period covered; report
the kinds and sources of evidence; and explain any quality or other problems with the evidence. Auditors
should also report significant constraints imposed on the audit approach by data limitations or scope
impairments.

7.15 To report the methodology used, auditors should clearly explain the evidence gathering and analysis
techniques used. This explanation should identify any significant assumptions made in conducting the audit;
describe any comparative techniques applied; describe the criteria used; and when sampling significantly
supports auditors' findings, describe the sample design and state why it was chosen.

7.16 Auditors should attempt to avoid misunderstanding by the reader concerning the work that was and was
not done to achieve the audit objectives, particularly when the work was limited because of constraints on
time or resources.

Audit Results
7.17Auditors should report significant audit findings, and where applicable, auditors' conclusions.

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Findings

7.18 Auditors should report the significant findings developed in response to each audit objective.2 In
reporting the findings, auditors should include sufficient, competent, and relevant information to promote
adequate understanding of the matters reported and to provide convincing but fair presentations in proper
perspective. Auditors should also report appropriate background information that readers need to understand
the findings.

[NOTE 2: Audit findings not included in the audit report, because of insignificance, should be separately
communicated to the auditee, preferably in writing. Such findings, when communicated in a management
letter to top management, should be referred to in the audit report. All communications of audit findings
should be documented in the working papers.]

7.19 Audit findings often have been regarded as containing the elements of criteria, condition, and effect,
plus cause when problems are found.3 However, the elements needed for a finding depend entirely on the
objectives of the audit. Thus, a finding or set of findings is complete to the extent that the audit objectives
are satisfied and the report clearly relates those objectives to the finding's elements.

[NOTE 3: See description of the elements of a finding in paragraphs 6.49 through 6.52.]

Conclusions

7.20 Auditors should report conclusions when called for by the audit objectives. Conclusions are logical
inferences about the program based on the auditors' findings. Conclusions should be specified and not left to
be inferred by readers. The strength of the auditors' conclusions depends on the persuasiveness of the
evidence supporting the findings and the convincingness of the logic used to formulate the conclusions.

Recommendations

7.21Auditors should report recommendations for actions to correct problem areas and to improve
operations.

7.22 Auditors should report recommendations when the potential for significant improvement in operations
and performance is substantiated by the reported findings. Recommendations to effect compliance with laws
and regulations and improve management controls should also be made when significant instances of
noncompliance are noted or significant weaknesses in controls are found. Auditors should also report the
status of uncorrected significant findings and recommendations from prior audits that affect the objectives of
the current audit.

7.23 Constructive recommendations can encourage improvements in the conduct of government programs.
Recommendations are most constructive when they are directed at resolving the cause of identified problems,
are action oriented and specific, are addressed to parties that have the authority to act, are feasible, and, to the
extent practical, are cost-effective.

Statement on Auditing Standards
7.24Auditors should report that the audit was made in accordance with generally accepted government
auditing standards.

7.25 The statement of compliance with generally accepted government auditing standards refers to all the

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applicable standards that the auditors should have followed during the audit. The statement should be
qualified in situations in which the auditors did not follow an applicable standard. In these situations,
auditors should report in the scope section the applicable standard that was not followed, the reasons therefor,
and how not following the standard affected the results of the audit.

Compliance With Laws and Regulations
7.26Auditors should report all significant instances of noncompliance and all significant instances of
abuse that were found during or in connection with the audit. In some circumstances, auditors should
report illegal acts directly to parties external to the audited entity.

Noncompliance and Abuse

7.27 When auditors conclude, based on evidence obtained, that significant noncompliance or abuse either has
occurred or is likely to have occurred, they should report relevant information. The term "noncompliance"
comprises illegal acts (violations of laws and regulations)4 and violations of provisions of contracts or grant
agreements. Abuse occurs when the conduct of a government organization, program, activity, or function
falls far short of societal expectations for prudent behavior.

[NOTE 4: Whether a particular act is, in fact, illegal may have to await final determination by a court of law.
Thus, when auditors disclose matters that have led them to conclude that an illegal act is likely to have
occurred, they should take care not to imply that they have made a determination of illegality.]

7.28 In reporting significant instances of noncompliance, auditors should place their findings in perspective.
To give the reader a basis for judging the prevalence and consequences of noncompliance, the instances of
noncompliance should be related to the universe or the number of cases examined and be quantified in terms
of dollar value, if appropriate.

7.29 When auditors detect nonsignificant instances of noncompliance they should communicate them to the
auditee, preferably in writing. If the auditors have communicated such instances of noncompliance in a
management letter to top management, they should refer to that management letter in the audit report.
Auditors should document in their working papers all communications to the auditee about noncompliance.

Direct Reporting of Illegal Acts

7.30 Auditors are responsible for reporting illegal acts directly to parties outside the auditee in certain
circumstances, as discussed in the following paragraphs. Auditors should fulfill these responsibilities even if
they have resigned or been dismissed from the audit.5

[NOTE 5: Internal auditors auditing within the entity that employs them do not have a duty to report outside
that entity.]

7.31 The auditee may be required by law or regulation to report certain illegal acts to specified external
parties (for example, to a federal inspector general or a state attorney general). If auditors have
communicated such illegal acts to the auditee, and it fails to report them, then the auditors should
communicate their awareness of that failure to the auditee's governing body. If the auditee does not make the
required report as soon as practical after the auditors' communication with its governing body, then the
auditors should report the illegal acts directly to the external party specified in the law or regulation.

7.32 Auditors should obtain sufficient, competent, and relevant evidence (for example, by confirmation with

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outside parties) to corroborate assertions by management that it has reported illegal acts. If they are unable to
do so, then the auditors should report the illegal acts directly as discussed above.

7.33 Chapter 6 reminds auditors that under some circumstances, laws, regulations, or policies may require
them to report promptly indications of certain types of illegal acts to law enforcement or investigatory
authorities. When auditors conclude that this type of illegal act either has occurred or is likely to have
occurred, they should ask those authorities and/or legal counsel if reporting certain information about that
illegal act would compromise investigative or legal proceedings. Auditors should limit their reporting to
matters that would not compromise those proceedings, such as information that is already a part of the public
record.

Management Controls
7.34Auditors should report the scope of their work on management controls and any significant
weaknesses found during the audit.

7.35 Reporting on management controls will vary depending on the significance of any weaknesses found
and the relationship of those weaknesses to the audit objectives.

7.36 In audits where the sole objective is to audit the management controls, weaknesses found of significance
to warrant reporting would be considered deficiencies and be so identified in the audit report. The
management controls that were assessed should be identified to the extent necessary to clearly present the
objectives, scope, and methodology of the audit.

7.37 In a performance audit, auditors may identify significant weaknesses in management controls as a cause
of deficient performance. In reporting this type of finding, the control weaknesses would be described as the
"cause."

Views of Responsible Officials

7.38 Auditors should report the views of responsible officials of the audited program concerning
auditors' findings, conclusions, and recommendations, as well as corrections planned.

7.39 One of the most effective ways to ensure that a report is fair, complete, and objective is to obtain
advance review and comments by responsible auditee officials and others, as may be appropriate. Including
the views of responsible officials produces a report that shows not only what was found and what the auditors
think about it but also what the responsible persons think about it and what they plan to do about it.

7.40 Auditors should normally request that the responsible officials' views on significant findings,
conclusions, and recommendations be submitted in writing. When, in these cases, written comments are not
obtained, oral comments should be requested.

7.41 Advance comments should be objectively evaluated and recognized, as appropriate, in the report.
Advance comments, such as a promise or plan for corrective action, should be noted but should not be
accepted as justification for dropping a significant finding or a related recommendation.

7.42 When the comments oppose the report's findings, conclusions, or recommendations, and are not, in the
auditors' opinion, valid, the auditors may choose to state their reasons for rejecting them. Conversely, the
auditors should modify their report if they find the comments valid.


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Noteworthy Accomplishments

7.43 Auditors should report noteworthy accomplishments, particularly when management
improvements in one area may be applicable elsewhere.

7.44 Noteworthy management accomplishments identified during the audit, which were within the scope of
the audit, should be included in the audit report along with deficiencies. Such information provides a more
fair presentation of the situation by providing appropriate balance to the report. In addition, inclusion of such
accomplishments may lead to improved performance by other government organizations that read the report.

Issues Needing Further Study
7.45 Auditors should refer significant issues needing further audit work to the auditors responsible for
planning future audit work.

7.46 If, during the audit, auditors identify significant issues that warrant further work, but the issues are not
directly related to the audit objectives or the auditors do not have the time or resources to expand the audit to
pursue them, they should refer the issues to the auditors within the audit organization who are responsible for
planning future audit work. When appropriate, auditors should also disclose the issues in the report and the
reasons the issues need further study.

Privileged and Confidential Information
7.47 If certain information is prohibited from general disclosure, auditors should report the nature of
the information omitted and the requirement that makes the omission necessary.

7.48 Certain information may be prohibited from general disclosure by federal, state, or local laws or
regulations. Such information may be provided on a need-to-know basis only to persons authorized by law or
regulation to receive it.

7.49 If such requirements prohibit auditors from including pertinent information in the report, they should
state the nature of the information omitted and the requirement that makes the omission necessary. The
auditors should obtain assurance that a valid requirement for the omission exists, and, when appropriate,
consult with legal counsel.



Report Presentation
7.50 The fourth reporting standard for performance audits is:

The report should be complete, accurate, objective, convincing, and as clear and concise as the subject
permits.

Complete
7.51 Being complete requires that the report contain all information needed to satisfy the audit objectives,
promote an adequate and correct understanding of the matters reported, and meet the report content
requirements. It also means including appropriate background information.


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7.52 Giving readers an adequate and correct understanding means providing perspective on the extent and
significance of reported findings, such as the frequency of occurrence relative to the number of cases or
transactions tested and the relationship of the findings to the entity's operations.

7.53 In most cases, a single example of a deficiency is not sufficient to support a broad conclusion or a
related recommendation. All that it supports is that a deviation, an error, or a weakness existed. However,
except as necessary to make convincing presentations, detailed supporting data need not be included.

Accurate
7.54 Accuracy requires that the evidence presented be true and that findings be correctly portrayed. The need
for accuracy is based on the need to assure readers that what is reported is credible and reliable. One
inaccuracy in a report can cast doubt on the validity of an entire report and can divert attention from the
substance of the report. Also, inaccurate reports can damage the credibility of the issuing audit organization
and reduce the effectiveness of its reports.

7.55 The report should include only information, findings, and conclusions that are supported by competent
and relevant evidence in the auditors' working papers. If data are significant to the audit findings and
conclusions, but are not audited, the auditors should clearly indicate in their report the data's limitations and
not make unwarranted conclusions or recommendations based on those data.

7.56 Reported evidence should demonstrate the correctness and reasonableness of the matters reported.
Correct portrayal means describing accurately the audit scope and methodology, and presenting findings and
conclusions in a manner consistent with the scope of audit work.

Objective
7.57 Objectivity requires that the presentation of the entire report be balanced in content and tone. A report's
credibility is significantly enhanced when it presents evidence in an unbiased manner so that readers can be
persuaded by the facts.

7.58 The audit report should be fair and not misleading, and should place the audit results in perspective.
This means presenting the audit results impartially and guarding against the tendency to exaggerate or
overemphasize deficient performance. In describing shortcomings in performance, auditors should present
the explanation of responsible officials including the consideration of any unusual difficulties or
circumstances they faced.

7.59 The tone of reports should encourage decisionmakers to act on the auditors' findings and
recommendations. Although findings should be presented clearly and forthrightly, the auditors should keep
in mind that one of their objectives is to persuade, and that this can best be done by avoiding language that
generates defensiveness and opposition. Although criticism of past performance is often necessary, the report
should emphasize needed improvements.

Convincing
7.60 Being convincing requires that the audit results be responsive to the audit objectives, the findings be
presented persuasively, and the conclusions and recommendations follow logically from the facts presented.
The information presented should be sufficient to convince the readers to recognize the validity of the
findings, the reasonableness of the conclusions, and the benefit of implementing the recommendations.
Reports designed in this way can help focus the attention of responsible officials on the matters that warrant

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attention and can help stimulate correction.

Clear
7.61 Clarity requires that the report be easy to read and understand. Reports should be written in language as
clear and simple as the subject permits.

7.62 Use of straightforward, nontechnical language is essential to simplicity of presentation. If technical
terms and unfamiliar abbreviations and acronyms are used, they should be clearly defined. Acronyms should
be used sparingly.

7.63 Logical organization of material, and accuracy and precision in stating facts and in drawing conclusions,
are essential to clarity and understanding. Effective use of titles and captions and topic sentences make the
report easier to read and understand. Visual aids (such as pictures, charts, graphs, and maps) should be used
when appropriate to clarify and summarize complex material.

Concise
7.64 Being concise requires that the report be no longer than necessary to convey and support the message.
Too much detail detracts from a report, may even conceal the real message, and may confuse or discourage
readers. Also, needless repetition should be avoided.

7.65 Although room exists for considerable judgment in determining the content of reports, those that are
complete, but still concise, are likely to achieve greater results.



Report Distribution
7.66 The fifth reporting standard for performance audits is:

Written audit reports are to be submitted by the audit organization to the appropriate officials of the
auditee and to the appropriate officials of the organizations requiring or arranging for the audits,
including external funding organizations, unless legal restrictions prevent it. Copies of the reports
should also be sent to other officials who have legal oversight authority or who may be responsible for
acting on audit findings and recommendations and to others authorized to receive such reports. Unless
restricted by law or regulation, copies should be made available for public inspection.

7.67 Audit reports should be distributed in a timely manner to officials interested in the results. Such
officials include those designated by law or regulation to receive such reports, those responsible for acting on
the findings and recommendations, those of other levels of government who have provided assistance to the
auditee, and legislators. However, if the subject of the audit involves material that is classified for security
purposes or is not releasable to particular parties or the public for other valid reasons, auditors may limit the
report distribution.

7.68 When nongovernment audit organizations are engaged, the engaging government organization should
ensure that the report is distributed appropriately. If the nongovernment audit organization is to make the
distribution, the engagement agreement should indicate what officials or organizations should receive the
report.


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7.69 Internal auditors should follow their entity's own arrangements and statutory requirements for
distribution. Usually, they report to their entity's top managers, who are responsible for distribution of the
report.


                         If you have questions about Government Auditing Standards,
                                     send email to yellowbook@gao.gov.


                                                   Updated 8/13/99




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