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U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission

SECURITIES AND EXCHANGE COMMISSION

(Release No. 34-50012; File No. PCAOB-2004-05)

July 14, 2004

Public Company Accounting Oversight Board; Notice of Filing of Proposed Rule on Auditing Standard No. 3, Audit Documentation, and an Amendment to Interim Auditing Standards — AU sec. 543.12, Part of Audit Performed by Other Independent Auditors

Pursuant to Section 107(b) of the Sarbanes-Oxley Act of 2002 (the "Act"), notice is hereby given that on June 18, 2004, the Public Company Accounting Oversight Board (the "Board" or the "PCAOB") filed with the Securities and Exchange Commission (the "Commission" or "SEC") the proposed rules described in Items I and II below, which items have been prepared by the Board and are presented here in the form submitted by the Board. The Commission is publishing this notice to solicit comments on the proposed rules from interested persons. The text of the proposed rules consist of (1) proposed Auditing Standard No. 3, Audit Documentation and Appendix A, Background and Basis for Conclusions, and (2) proposed Amendment to Interim Auditing Standard — AU sec. 543.12, Part of Audit Performed by Other Independent Auditors.

I. Board's Statement of the Terms of Substance of the Proposed Rules

On June 9, 2004, the Board adopted Auditing Standard No. 3, Audit Documentation, and an amendment to interim auditing standards ("the proposed rules"). The text of the proposed rules is as follows:

Auditing Standard No. 3 — Audit Documentation

Introduction

1. This standard establishes general requirements for documentation the auditor should prepare and retain in connection with engagements conducted pursuant to the standards of the Public Company Accounting Oversight Board ("PCAOB"). Such engagements include an audit of financial statements, an audit of internal control over financial reporting, and a review of interim financial information. This standard does not replace specific documentation requirements of other standards of the PCAOB.

Objectives of Audit Documentation

2. Audit documentation is the written record of the basis for the auditor's conclusions that provides the support for the auditor's representations, whether those representations are contained in the auditor's report or otherwise. Audit documentation also facilitates the planning, performance, and supervision of the engagement, and is the basis for the review of the quality of the work because it provides the reviewer with written documentation of the evidence supporting the auditor's significant conclusions. Among other things, audit documentation includes records of the planning and performance of the work, the procedures performed, evidence obtained, and conclusions reached by the auditor. Audit documentation also may be referred to as work papers or working papers.

Note: An auditor's representations to a company's board of directors or audit committee, stockholders, investors, or other interested parties are usually included in the auditor's report accompanying the financial statements of the company. The auditor also might make oral representations to the company or others, either on a voluntary basis or if necessary to comply with professional standards, including in connection with an engagement for which an auditor's report is not issued. For example, although an auditor might not issue a report in connection with an engagement to review interim financial information, he or she ordinarily would make oral representations about the results of the review.

3. Audit documentation is reviewed by members of the engagement team performing the work and might be reviewed by others. Reviewers might include, for example:

a. Auditors who are new to an engagement and review the prior year's documentation to understand the work performed as an aid in planning and performing the current engagement.

b. Supervisory personnel who review documentation prepared by assistants on the engagement.

c. Engagement supervisors and engagement quality reviewers who review documentation to understand how the engagement team reached significant conclusions and whether there is adequate evidential support for those conclusions.

d. A successor auditor who reviews a predecessor auditor's audit documentation.

e. Internal and external inspection teams that review documentation to assess audit quality and compliance with auditing and related professional practice standards; applicable laws, rules, and regulations; and the auditor's own quality control policies.

f. Others, including advisors engaged by the audit committee or representatives of a party to an acquisition.

Audit Documentation Requirement

4. The auditor must prepare audit documentation in connection with each engagement conducted pursuant to the standards of the PCAOB. Audit documentation should be prepared in sufficient detail to provide a clear understanding of its purpose, source, and the conclusions reached. Also, the documentation should be appropriately organized to provide a clear link to the significant findings or issues.1 Examples of audit documentation include memoranda, confirmations, correspondence, schedules, audit programs, and letters of representation. Audit documentation may be in the form of paper, electronic files, or other media.

5. Because audit documentation is the written record that provides the support for the representations in the auditor's report, it should:

a. Demonstrate that the engagement complied with the standards of the PCAOB,

b. Support the basis for the auditor's conclusions concerning every relevant financial statement assertion, and

c. Demonstrate that the underlying accounting records agreed or reconciled with the financial statements.

6. The auditor must document the procedures performed, evidence obtained, and conclusions reached with respect to relevant financial statement assertions.2 Audit documentation must clearly demonstrate that the work was in fact performed. This documentation requirement applies to the work of all those who participate in the engagement as well as to the work of specialists the auditor uses as evidential matter in evaluating relevant financial statement assertions. Audit documentation must contain sufficient information to enable an experienced auditor, having no previous connection with the engagement:

a. To understand the nature, timing, extent, and results of the procedures performed, evidence obtained, and conclusions reached, and

b. To determine who performed the work and the date such work was completed as well as the person who reviewed the work and the date of such review.

Note: An experienced auditor has a reasonable understanding of audit activities and has studied the company's industry as well as the accounting and auditing issues relevant to the industry.

7. In determining the nature and extent of the documentation for a financial statement assertion, the auditor should consider the following factors:

  • Nature of the auditing procedure;
     
  • Risk of material misstatement associated with the assertion;
     
  • Extent of judgment required in performing the work and evaluating the results, for example, accounting estimates require greater judgment and commensurately more extensive documentation;
     
  • Significance of the evidence obtained to the assertion being tested; and
     
  • Responsibility to document a conclusion not readily determinable from the documentation of the procedures performed or evidence obtained.

Application of these factors determines whether the nature and extent of audit documentation is adequate.

8. In addition to the documentation necessary to support the auditor's final conclusions, audit documentation must include information the auditor has identified relating to significant findings or issues that is inconsistent with or contradicts the auditor's final conclusions. The relevant records to be retained include, but are not limited to, procedures performed in response to the information, and records documenting consultations on, or resolutions of, differences in professional judgment among members of the engagement team or between the engagement team and others consulted.

9. If, after the documentation completion date (defined in paragraph 15), the auditor becomes aware, as a result of a lack of documentation or otherwise, that audit procedures may not have been performed, evidence may not have been obtained, or appropriate conclusions may not have been reached, the auditor must determine, and if so demonstrate, that sufficient procedures were performed, sufficient evidence was obtained, and appropriate conclusions were reached with respect to the relevant financial statement assertions. To accomplish this, the auditor must have persuasive other evidence. Oral explanation alone does not constitute persuasive other evidence, but it may be used to clarify other written evidence.

  • If the auditor determines and demonstrates that sufficient procedures were performed, sufficient evidence was obtained, and appropriate conclusions were reached, but that documentation thereof is not adequate, then the auditor should consider what additional documentation is needed. In preparing additional documentation, the auditor should refer to paragraph 16.
     
  • If the auditor cannot determine or demonstrate that sufficient procedures were performed, sufficient evidence was obtained, or appropriate conclusions were reached, the auditor should comply with the provisions of AU sec. 390, Consideration of Omitted Procedures After the Report Date.

Documentation of Specific Matters

10. Documentation of auditing procedures that involve the inspection of documents or confirmation, including tests of details, tests of operating effectiveness of controls, and walkthroughs, should include identification of the items inspected. Documentation of auditing procedures related to the inspection of significant contracts or agreements should include abstracts or copies of the documents.

Note: The identification of the items inspected may be satisfied by indicating the source from which the items were selected and the specific selection criteria, for example:

  • If an audit sample is selected from a population of documents, the documentation should include identifying characteristics (for example, the specific check numbers of the items included in the sample).
     
  • If all items over a specific dollar amount are selected from a population of documents, the documentation need describe only the scope and the identification of the population (for example, all checks over $10,000 from the October disbursements journal).
     
  • If a systematic sample is selected from a population of documents, the documentation need only provide an identification of the source of the documents and an indication of the starting point and the sampling interval (for example, a systematic sample of sales invoices was selected from the sales journal for the period from October 1 to December 31, starting with invoice number 452 and selecting every 40th invoice).

11. Certain matters, such as auditor independence, staff training and proficiency and client acceptance and retention, may be documented in a central repository for the public accounting firm ("firm") or in the particular office participating in the engagement. If such matters are documented in a central repository, the audit documentation of the engagement should include a reference to the central repository. Documentation of matters specific to a particular engagement should be included in the audit documentation of the pertinent engagement.

12. The auditor must document significant findings or issues, actions taken to address them (including additional evidence obtained), and the basis for the conclusions reached in connection with each engagement. Significant findings or issues are substantive matters that are important to the procedures performed, evidence obtained, or conclusions reached, and include, but are not limited to, the following:

a. Significant matters involving the selection, application, and consistency of accounting principles, including related disclosures. Significant matters include, but are not limited to, accounting for complex or unusual transactions, accounting estimates, and uncertainties as well as related management assumptions.

b. Results of auditing procedures that indicate a need for significant modification of planned auditing procedures, the existence of material misstatements, omissions in the financial statements, the existence of significant deficiencies, or material weaknesses in internal control over financial reporting.

c. Audit adjustments. For purposes of this standard, an audit adjustment is a correction of a misstatement of the financial statements that was or should have been proposed by the auditor, whether or not recorded by management, that could, either individually or when aggregated with other misstatements, have a material effect on the company's financial statements.

d. Disagreements among members of the engagement team or with others consulted on the engagement about final conclusions reached on significant accounting or auditing matters.

e. Circumstances that cause significant difficulty in applying auditing procedures.

f. Significant changes in the assessed level of audit risk for particular audit areas and the auditor's response to those changes.

g. Any matters that could result in modification of the auditor's report.

13. The auditor must identify all significant findings or issues in an engagement completion document. This document may include either all information necessary to understand the significant findings, issues or cross-references, as appropriate, to other available supporting audit documentation. This document, along with any documents cross-referenced, should collectively be as specific as necessary in the circumstances for a reviewer to gain a thorough understanding of the significant findings or issues.

Note: The engagement completion document prepared in connection with the annual audit should include documentation of significant findings or issues identified during the review of interim financial information.

Retention of and Subsequent Changes to Audit Documentation

14. The auditor must retain audit documentation for seven years from the date the auditor grants permission to use the auditor's report in connection with the issuance of the company's financial statements (report release date), unless a longer period of time is required by law. If a report is not issued in connection with an engagement, then the audit documentation must be retained for seven years from the date that fieldwork was substantially completed. If the auditor was unable to complete the engagement, then the audit documentation must be retained for seven years from the date the engagement ceased.

15. Prior to the report release date, the auditor must have completed all necessary auditing procedures and obtained sufficient evidence to support the representations in the auditor's report. A complete and final set of audit documentation should be assembled for retention as of a date not more than 45 days after the report release date (documentation completion date). If a report is not issued in connection with an engagement, then the documentation completion date should not be more than 45 days from the date that fieldwork was substantially completed. If the auditor was unable to complete the engagement, then the documentation completion date should not be more than 45 days from the date the engagement ceased.

16. Circumstances may require additions to audit documentation after the report release date. Audit documentation must not be deleted or discarded after the documentation completion date, however, information may be added. Any documentation added must indicate the date the information was added, the name of the person who prepared the additional documentation, and the reason for adding it.

17. Other standards require the auditor to perform procedures subsequent to the report release date in certain circumstances. For example, in accordance with AU sec. 711, Filings Under Federal Securities Statutes, auditors are required to perform certain procedures up to the effective date of a registration statement.3 The auditor must identify and document any additions to audit documentation as a result of these procedures consistent with the previous paragraph.

18. The office of the firm issuing the auditor's report is responsible for ensuring that all audit documentation sufficient to meet the requirements of paragraphs 4-13 of this standard is prepared and retained. Audit documentation supporting the work performed by other auditors (including auditors associated with other offices of the firm, affiliated firms, or non-affiliated firms), must be retained by or be accessible to the office issuing the auditor's report.4

19. In addition, the office issuing the auditor's report must obtain, and review and retain, prior to the report release date, the following documentation related to the work performed by other auditors (including auditors associated with other offices of the firm, affiliated firms, or non-affiliated firms):

a. An engagement completion document consistent with paragraphs 12 and 13.

Note: This engagement completion document should include all cross-referenced, supporting audit documentation.

b. A list of significant fraud risk factors, the auditor's response, and the results of the auditor's related procedures.

c. Sufficient information relating to any significant findings or issues that are inconsistent with or contradict the final conclusions, as described in paragraph 8.

d. Any findings affecting the consolidating or combining of accounts in the consolidated financial statements.

e. Sufficient information to enable the office issuing the auditor's report to agree or to reconcile the financial statement amounts audited by the other auditor to the information underlying the consolidated financial statements.

f. A schedule of audit adjustments, including a description of the nature and cause of each misstatement.

g. All significant deficiencies and material weaknesses in internal control over financial reporting, including a clear distinction between those two categories.

h. Letters of representations from management.

i. All matters to be communicated to the audit committee.

If the auditor decides to make reference in his or her report to the audit of the other auditor, however, the auditor issuing the report need not perform the procedures in this paragraph and, instead, should refer to AU sec. 543, Part of Audit Performed by Other Independent Auditors.

20. The auditor also might be required to maintain documentation in addition to that required by this standard.5

Effective Date

21. This standard is effective for audits of financial statements, which may include an audit of internal control over financial reporting, with respect to fiscal years ending on or after [the later of November 15, 2004, or 30 days after the date of approval of this standard by the SEC]. For other engagements conducted pursuant to the standards of the PCAOB, including reviews of interim financial information, this standard takes effect beginning with the first quarter ending after the first financial statement audit covered by this standard.

APPENDIX A

Background and Basis for Conclusions

Table of ContentsParagraph
IntroductionA1-A2
BackgroundA3-A7
Objective of This StandardA8-A10
Audit ProgramsA11-A12
Reviewability StandardA13-A19
Audit Documentation Must Demonstrate That the Work was DoneA20-A33
Audit AdjustmentsA34-A36
Information That is Inconsistent with or Contradicts the Auditor's Final ConclusionsA37-A38
Retention of Audit DocumentationA39-A41
Section 802 of Sarbanes-Oxley and the SEC's Implementing RuleA42-A50
Changes to Audit DocumentationA51-A59
Multi-Location Audits and Using the Work of Other AuditorsA60-A67
Effective DateA68-A70
Reference to Audit Documentation As the Property of the AuditorA71
Confidential Client InformationA72

Introduction

A1. This appendix summarizes considerations that the Public Company Accounting Oversight Board ("PCAOB" or "Board") deemed significant in developing this standard. This appendix includes reasons for accepting certain views and rejecting others.

A2. Section 103(a)(2)(A)(i) of the Sarbanes-Oxley Act of 2002 (the "Act") directs the Board to establish auditing standards that require registered public accounting firms to prepare and maintain, for at least seven years, audit documentation "in sufficient detail to support the conclusions reached" in the auditor's report. Accordingly, the Board has made audit documentation a priority.

Background

A3. Auditors support the conclusions in their reports with a work product called audit documentation, also referred to as working papers or work papers. Audit documentation supports the basis for the conclusions in the auditor's report. Audit documentation also facilitates the planning, performance, and supervision of the engagement and provides the basis for the review of the quality of the work by providing the reviewer with written documentation of the evidence supporting the auditor's significant conclusions. Examples of audit documentation include memoranda, confirmations, correspondence, schedules, audit programs, and letters of representation. Audit documentation may be in the form of paper, electronic files, or other media.

A4. The Board's standard on audit documentation is one of the fundamental building blocks on which both the integrity of audits and the Board's oversight will rest. The Board believes that the quality and integrity of an audit depends, in large part, on the existence of a complete and understandable record of the work the auditor performed, the conclusions the auditor reached, and the evidence the auditor obtained that supports those conclusions. Meaningful reviews, whether by the Board in the context of its inspections or through other reviews, such as internal quality control reviews, would be difficult or impossible without adequate documentation. Clear and comprehensive audit documentation is essential to enhance the quality of the audit and, at the same time, to allow the Board to fulfill its mandate to inspect registered public accounting firms to assess the degree of compliance of those firms with applicable standards and laws.

A5. The Board began a standards-development project on audit documentation by convening a public roundtable discussion on September 29, 2003, to discuss issues and hear views on the subject. Participants at the roundtable included representatives from public companies, public accounting firms, investor groups, and regulatory organizations.

A6. Prior to this roundtable discussion, the Board prepared and released a briefing paper on audit documentation that posed several questions to help identify the objectives — and the appropriate scope and form — of audit documentation. In addition, the Board asked participants to address specific issues in practice relating to, among other things, changes in audit documentation after release of the audit report, essential elements and the appropriate amount of detail of audit documentation, the effect on audit documentation of a principal auditor's decision to use the work of other auditors, and retention of audit documentation. Based on comments made at the roundtable, advice from the Board's staff, and other input the Board received, the Board determined that the pre-existing standard on audit documentation, Statement on Auditing Standards ("SAS") No. 96, Audit Documentation, was insufficient for the Board to discharge appropriately its standard-setting obligations under Section 103(a) of the Act. In response, the Board developed and issued for comment, on November 17, 2003, a proposed auditing standard titled, Audit Documentation.

A7. The Board received 38 comment letters from a variety of interested parties, including auditors, regulators, professional associations, government agencies, and others. Those comments led to some changes in the requirements of the standard. Also, other changes made the requirements easier to understand. The following sections summarize significant views expressed in those comment letters and the Board's responses to those comments.

Objective of This Standard

A8. The objective of this standard is to improve audit quality and enhance public confidence in the quality of auditing. Good audit documentation improves the quality of the work performed in many ways, including, for example:

  • Providing a record of actual work performed, which provides assurance that the auditor accomplishes the planned objectives.
     
  • Facilitating the reviews performed by supervisors, managers, engagement partners, engagement quality reviewers,6 and PCAOB inspectors.
     
  • Improving effectiveness and efficiency by reducing time-consuming, and sometimes inaccurate, oral explanations of what was done (or not done).

A9. The documentation requirements in this standard should result in more effective and efficient oversight of registered public accounting firms and associated persons, thereby improving audit quality and enhancing investor confidence.

A10. Inadequate audit documentation diminishes audit quality on many levels. First, if audit documentation does not exist for a particular procedure or conclusion related to a significant matter, it casts doubt as to whether the necessary work was done. If the work was not documented, then it becomes difficult for the engagement team, and others, to know what was done, what conclusions were reached, and how those conclusions were reached. In addition, good audit documentation is very important in an environment in which engagement staff changes or rotates. Due to engagement staff turnover, knowledgeable staff on an engagement may not be available for the next engagement.

Audit Programs

A11. Several commenters suggested that audit documentation should include audit programs. Audit programs were specifically mentioned in SAS No. 96 as a form of audit documentation.

A12. The Board accepted this recommendation, and paragraph 4 in the final standard includes audit programs as an example of documentation. Audit programs may provide evidence of audit planning as well as limited evidence of the execution of audit procedures, but the Board believes that signed-off audit programs should generally not be used as the sole documentation that a procedure was performed, evidence was obtained, or a conclusion was reached. An audit program aids in the conduct and supervision of an engagement, but completed and initialed audit program steps should be supported with proper documentation in the working papers.

Reviewability Standard

A13. The proposed standard would have adapted a standard of reviewability from the U.S. General Accounting Office's ("GAO") documentation standard for government and other audits conducted in accordance with generally accepted government auditing standards ("GAGAS"). The GAO standard provides that "Audit documentation related to planning, conducting, and reporting on the audit should contain sufficient information to enable an experienced auditor who has had no previous connection with the audit to ascertain from the audit documentation the evidence that supports the auditors' significant judgments and conclusions."7 This requirement has been important in the field of government auditing because government audits have long been reviewed by GAO auditors who, although experienced in auditing, do not participate in the actual audits. Moreover, the Panel on Audit Effectiveness recommended that sufficient, specific requirements for audit documentation be established to enable public accounting firms' internal inspection teams as well as others, including reviewers outside of the firms, to assess the quality of engagement performance.8 Audits and reviews of issuers' financial statements will now, under the Act, be subject to review by PCAOB inspectors. Therefore, a documentation standard that enables an inspector to understand the work that was performed in an audit or review is appropriate.

A14. Accordingly, the Board's proposed standard would have required that audit documentation contain sufficient information to enable an experienced auditor, having no previous connection with the engagement, to understand the work that was performed, the name of the person(s) who performed it, the date it was completed, and the conclusions reached. This experienced auditor also should have been able to determine who reviewed the work and the date of such review.

A15. Some commenters suggested that the final standard more specifically describe the qualifications of an experienced auditor. These commenters took the position that only an engagement partner with significant years of experience would have the experience necessary to be able to understand all the work that was performed and the conclusions that were reached. One commenter suggested that an auditor who is reviewing audit documentation should have experience and knowledge consistent with the experience and knowledge that the auditor performing the audit would be required to possess, including knowledge of the current accounting, auditing, and financial reporting issues of the company's industry. Another said that the characteristics defining an experienced auditor should be consistent with those expected of the auditor with final responsibility for the engagement.

A16. After considering these comments, the Board has provided additional specificity about the meaning of the term, experienced auditor. The standard now describes an experienced auditor as one who has a reasonable understanding of audit activities and has studied the company's industry as well as the accounting and auditing issues relevant to the industry.

A17. Some commenters also suggested that the standard, as proposed, did not allow for the use of professional judgment. These commenters pointed to the omission of a statement about professional judgment found in paragraph 4.23 of GAGAS that states, "The quantity, type, and content of audit documentation are a matter of the auditors' professional judgment." A nearly identical statement was found in the interim auditing standard, SAS No. 96, Audit Documentation.

A18. Auditors exercise professional judgment in nearly every aspect of planning, performing, and reporting on an audit. Auditors also exercise professional judgment in the documentation of an audit and other engagements. An objective of this standard is to ensure that auditors give proper consideration to the need to document procedures performed, evidence obtained, and conclusions reached in light of time and cost considerations in completing an engagement.

A19. Nothing in the standard precludes auditors from exercising their professional judgment. Moreover, because professional judgment might relate to any aspect of an audit, the Board does not believe that an explicit reference to professional judgment is necessary every time the use of professional judgment may be appropriate.

Audit Documentation Must Demonstrate That the Work was Done

A20. A guiding principle of the proposed standard was that auditors must document procedures performed, evidence obtained, and conclusions reached. This principle is not new and was found in the interim standard, SAS No. 96, Audit Documentation, which this standard supersedes. Audit documentation also should demonstrate compliance with the standards of the PCAOB and include justification for any departures.

A21. The proposed standard would have adapted a provision in the California Business and Professions Code which provides that if documentation does not exist, then there is a rebuttable presumption that the work had not been done.

A22. The objections to this proposal fell into two general categories: the effect of the rebuttable presumption on legal proceedings and the perceived impracticality of documenting every conversation or conclusion that affected the engagement. Discussion of these issues follows.

Rebuttable Presumption

A23. Commenters expressed concern about the effects of the proposed language on regulatory or legal proceedings outside the context of the PCAOB's oversight. They argued that the rebuttable presumption might be understood to establish evidentiary rules for use in judicial and administrative proceedings in other jurisdictions.

A24. Some commenters also had concerns that oral explanation alone would not constitute persuasive other evidence that work was done, absent any documentation. Those commenters argued that not allowing oral explanations when there was no documentation would essentially make the presumption "irrebuttable." Moreover, those commenters argued that it was inappropriate for a professional standard to predetermine for a court the relative value of evidence.

A25. The Board believes that complete audit documentation is necessary for a quality audit or other engagement. The Board intends the standard to require auditors to document procedures performed, evidence obtained, and conclusions reached to improve the quality of audits. The Board also intends that a deficiency in documentation is a departure from the Board's standards. Thus, although the Board removed the phrase rebuttable presumption, the Board continues to stress, in paragraph 9 of the standard, that the auditor must have persuasive other evidence that the procedures were performed, evidence was obtained, and appropriate conclusions were reached with respect to relevant financial statement assertions.

A26. The term should (presumptively mandatory responsibility) was changed to must (unconditional responsibility) in paragraph 6 to establish a higher threshold for the auditor. Auditors have an unconditional requirement to document their work. Failure to discharge an unconditional responsibility is a violation of the standard and Rule 3100, which requires all registered public accounting firms to adhere to the Board's auditing and related professional practice standards in connection with an audit or review of an issuer's financial statements.

A27. The Board also added two new paragraphs to the final standard to explain the importance and associated responsibility of performing the work and adequately documenting all work that was performed. Paragraph 7 provides a list of factors the auditor should consider in determining the nature and extent of documentation. These factors should be considered by both the auditor in preparing the documentation and the reviewer in evaluating the documentation.

A28. In paragraph 9 of this standard, if, after the documentation completion date, as a result of a lack of documentation or otherwise, it appears that audit procedures may not have been performed, evidence may not have been obtained, or appropriate conclusions may not have been reached, the auditor must determine, and if so demonstrate, that sufficient procedures were performed, sufficient evidence was obtained, and appropriate conclusions were reached with respect to the relevant financial statement assertions. In those circumstances, for example, during an inspection by the Board or during the firm's internal quality control review, the auditor is required to demonstrate with persuasive other evidence that the procedures were performed, the evidence was obtained, and appropriate conclusions were reached. In this and similar contexts, oral explanation alone does not constitute persuasive other evidence. However, oral evidence may be used to clarify other written evidence.

A29. In addition, more reliable, objective evidence may be required depending on the nature of the test and the objective the auditor is trying to achieve. For example, if there is a high risk of a material misstatement with respect to a particular assertion, then the auditor should obtain and document sufficient procedures for the auditor to conclude on the fairness of the assertion.

Impracticality

A30. Some commenters expressed concern that the proposed standard could be construed or interpreted to require the auditor to document every conversation held with company management or among the engagement team members. Some commenters also argued that they should not be required to document every conclusion, including preliminary conclusions that were part of a thought process that may have led them to a different conclusion, on the ground that this would result in needless and costly work performed by the auditor. Commenters also expressed concern that an unqualified requirement to document procedures performed, evidence obtained, and conclusions reached without allowing the use of auditor judgment would increase the volume of documentation but not the quality. They stated that it would be unnecessary, time-consuming, and potentially counterproductive to require the auditor to make a written record of everything he or she did.

A31. The Board's standard distinguishes between (1) an audit procedure that must be documented and (2) a conversation with company management or among the members of the engagement team. Inquiries with management should be documented when an inquiry is important to a particular procedure. The inquiry could take place during planning, performance, or reporting. The auditor need not document each conversation that occurred.

A32. A final conclusion is an integral part of a working paper, unless the working paper is only for informational purposes, such as documentation of a discussion or a process. This standard does not require that the auditor document each interim conclusion reached in arriving at the risk assessments or final conclusions. Conclusions reached early on during an audit may be based on incomplete information or an incorrect understanding. Nevertheless, auditors should document a final conclusion for every audit procedure performed, if that conclusion is not readily apparent based on documented results of the procedures.

A33. The Board also believes the reference to specialists is an important element of paragraph 6. Specialists play a vital role in audit engagements. For example, appraisers, actuaries, and environmental consultants provide valuable data concerning asset values, calculation assumptions, and loss reserves. When using the work of a specialist, the auditor must ensure that the specialist's work, as it relates to the audit objectives, also is adequately documented. For example, if the auditor relies on the work of an appraiser in obtaining the fair value of commercial property available for sale, then the auditor must ensure the appraisal report is adequately documented. Moreover, the term specialist in this standard is intended to include any specialist the auditor relies on in conducting the work, including those employed or retained by the auditor or by the company.

Audit Adjustments

A34. Several commenters recommended that the definition of audit adjustments in this proposed standard should be consistent with the definition contained in AU sec. 380, Communication with Audit Committees.

A35. Although the Board recognizes potential benefits of having a uniform definition of the term audit adjustments, the Board does not believe that the definition in AU sec. 380 is appropriate for this documentation standard because that definition was intended for communication with audit committees. The Board believes that the definition should be broader so that the engagement partner, engagement quality reviewer, and others can be aware of all proposed corrections of misstatements, whether or not recorded by the entity, of which the auditor is aware, that were or should have been proposed based on the audit evidence.

A36. Adjustments that should have been proposed based on known audit evidence are material misstatements that the auditor identified but did not propose to management. Examples include situations in which (1) the auditor identifies a material error but does not propose an adjustment and (2) the auditor proposes an adjustment in the working papers, but fails to note the adjustment in the summary or schedule of proposed adjustments.

Information That Is Inconsistent with or Contradicts the Auditor's Final Conclusions

A37. Paragraph .25 of AU sec. 326, Evidential Matter, states: "In developing his or her opinion, the auditor should consider relevant evidential matter regardless of whether it appears to corroborate or to contradict the assertions in the financial statements." Thus, during the conduct of an audit, the auditor should consider all relevant evidential matter even though it might contradict or be inconsistent with other conclusions. Audit documentation must contain information or data relating to significant findings or issues that are inconsistent with the auditor's final conclusions on the relevant matter.

A38. Also, information that initially appears to be inconsistent or contradictory, but is found to be incorrect or based on incomplete information, need not be included in the final audit documentation, provided that the apparent inconsistencies or contradictions were satisfactorily resolved by obtaining complete and correct information. In addition, with respect to differences in professional judgment, auditors need not include in audit documentation preliminary views based on incomplete information or data.

Retention of Audit Documentation

A39. The proposed standard would have required an auditor to retain audit documentation for seven years after completion of the engagement, which is the minimum period permitted under Section 103(a)(2)(A)(i) of the Act. In addition, the proposed standard would have added a new requirement that the audit documentation must be assembled for retention within a reasonable period of time after the auditor's report is released. Such reasonable period of time should not exceed 45 days.

A40. In general, those commenting on this documentation retention requirement did not have concerns with the time period of 45 days to assemble the working papers. However, some commenters suggested the Board tie this 45-day requirement to the filing date of the company's financial statements with the SEC. One commenter recommended that the standard refer to the same trigger date for initiating both the time period during which the auditor should complete work paper assembly and the beginning of the seven-year retention period.

A41. For consistency and practical implications, the Board agreed that the standard should have the same date for the auditor to start assembling the audit documentation and initiating the seven-year retention period. The Board decided that the seven-year retention period begins on the report release date, which is defined as the date the auditor grants permission to use the auditor's report in connection with the issuance of the company's financial statements. In addition, auditors will have 45 days to assemble the complete and final set of audit documentation, beginning on the report release date. The Board believes that using the report release date is preferable to using the filing date of the company's financial statements, since the auditor has ultimate control over granting permission to use his or her report. If an auditor's report is not issued, then the audit documentation is to be retained for seven years from the date that fieldwork was substantially completed. If the auditor was unable to complete the engagement, then the seven-year period begins when the work on the engagement ceased.

Section 802 of Sarbanes-Oxley and the SEC's Implementing Rule

A42. Many commenters had concerns about the similarity in language between the proposed standard and the SEC final rule (issued in January 2003) on record retention, Retention of Records Relevant to Audits and Reviews.9 Some commenters recommended that the PCAOB undertake a project to identify and resolve all differences between the proposed standard and the SEC's final rule. These commenters also suggested that the Board include similar language from the SEC final rule, Rule 2-06 of Regulation S-X, which limits the requirement to retain some items.

Differences between Section 802 and This Standard

A43. The objective of the Board's standard is different from the objective of the SEC's rule on record retention. The objective of the Board's standard is to require auditors to create certain documentation to enhance the quality of audit documentation, thereby improving the quality of audits and other related engagements. The records retention section of this standard, mandated by Section 103 of the Act, requires registered public accounting firms to "prepare and maintain for a period of not less than 7 years, audit work papers, and other information related to any audit report, in sufficient detail to support the conclusions reached in such report." (emphasis added)

A44. In contrast, the focus of the SEC rule is to require auditors to retain documents that the auditor does create, in order that those documents will be available in the event of a regulatory investigation or other proceeding. As stated in the release accompanying the SEC's final rule (SEC Release No. 33-8180):

Section 802 of the Sarbanes-Oxley Act is intended to address the destruction or fabrication of evidence and the preservation of "financial and audit records." We are directed under that section to promulgate rules related to the retention of records relevant to the audits and reviews of financial statements that companies file with the Commission.

A45. The SEC release further states, "New rule 2-06 ... addresses the retention of documents relevant to enforcement of the securities laws, Commission rules, and criminal laws."

A46. Despite their different objectives, the proposed standard and SEC Rule 2-06 use similar language in describing documentation generated during an audit or review. Paragraph 4 of the proposed standard stated that, "Audit documentation ordinarily consists of memoranda, correspondence, schedules, and other documents created or obtained in connection with the engagement and may be in the form of paper, electronic files, or other media." Paragraph (a) of SEC Rule 2-06 describes "records relevant to the audit or review" that must be retained as, (1) "workpapers and other documents that form the basis of the audit or review and (2) memoranda, correspondence, communications, other documents, and records (including electronic records), which: [a]re created, sent or received in connection with the audit or review and [c]ontain conclusions, opinions, analyses, or financial data related to the audit or review. ..." (numbering and emphasis added).

A47. The SEC makes a distinction between the objectives of categories (1) and (2). Category (1) includes audit documentation. Documentation to be retained according to the Board's standard clearly falls within category (1). Items in category (2) include "desk files" which are more than "what traditionally has been thought of as auditor's 'workpapers'." The SEC's rule requiring auditors to retain items in category (2) have the principal purpose of facilitating enforcement of securities laws, SEC rules, and criminal laws. This is not an objective of the Board's standard. According to SEC Rule 2-06, items in category (2) are limited to those which: (a) are created, sent or received in connection with the audit or review, and (b) contain conclusions, opinions, analyses, or financial data related to the audit or review. The limitations, (a) and (b), do not apply to category (1).

A48. Paragraph 4 of the final standard deletes the reference in the proposed standard to "other documents created or obtained in connection with the engagement." The Board decided to keep "correspondence" in the standard because correspondence can be valid audit evidence. Paragraph 20 of the standard reminds the auditor that he or she may be required to maintain documentation in addition to that required by this standard.

Significant Matters and Significant Findings or Issues

A49. Some commenters asked how the term significant matters, in Rule 2-06, relates to the term significant findings or issues in the Board's standard. The SEC's release accompanying its final Rule 2-06 states that "... significant matters is intended to refer to the documentation of substantive matters that are important to the audit or review process or to the financial statements of the issuer. ..." This is very similar to the term significant findings or issues contained in paragraph 12 of the Board's standard which requires auditors to document significant findings or issues, actions taken to address them (including additional evidence obtained), and the basis for the conclusions reached. Examples of significant findings or issues are provided in the standard.

A50. Based on the explanation in the SEC's final rule and accompanying release, the Board believes that significant matters are included in the meaning of significant findings or issues in the Board's standard. The Board is of the view that significant findings or issues is more comprehensive and provides more clarity than significant matters and, therefore, has not changed the wording in the final standard.

Changes to Audit Documentation

A51. The proposed standard would have required that any changes to the working papers after completion of the engagement be documented without deleting or discarding the original documents. Such documentation must indicate the date the information was added, by whom it was added, and the reason for adding it.

A52. One commenter recommended that the Board provide examples of auditing procedures that should be performed before the report release date and procedures that may be performed after the report release date. Some commenters also requested clarification about the treatment of changes to documentation that occurred after the completion of the engagement but before the report release date. Many commenters recommended that the Board more specifically describe post-issuance procedures. The Board generally agreed with these comments.

A53. The final standard includes two important dates for the preparation of audit documentation: (1) the report release date and (2) the documentation completion date.

  • Prior to the report release date, the auditor must have completed all necessary auditing procedures, including clearing review notes and providing support for all final conclusions. In addition, the auditor must have obtained sufficient evidence to support the representations in the auditor's reports before the report release date.
     
  • After the report release date and prior to the documentation completion date, the auditor has 45 calendar days in which to assemble the documentation.

A54. During the audit, audit documentation may be superseded for various reasons. Often, during the review process, reviewers annotate the documentation with clarifications, questions, and edits. The completion process often involves revising the documentation electronically and generating a new copy. The SEC's final rule on record retention, Retention of Records Relevant to Audits and Reviews,10 explains that the SEC rule does not require that the following documents generally need to be retained: superseded drafts of memoranda, financial statements or regulatory filings; notes on superseded drafts of memoranda, financial statements or regulatory filings that reflect incomplete or preliminary thinking; previous copies of workpapers that have been corrected for typographical errors or errors due to training of new employees; and duplicates of documents. This standard also does not require auditors to retain such documents as a general matter.

A55. Any documents, however, that reflect information that is either inconsistent with or contradictory to the conclusions contained in the final working papers may not be discarded. Any documents added must indicate the date they were added, the name of the person who prepared them, and the reason for adding them.

A56. If the auditor obtains and documents evidence after the report release date, the auditor should refer to the interim auditing standards, AU sec. 390, Consideration of Omitted Procedures After the Report Date and AU sec. 561, Subsequent Discovery of Facts Existing at the Date of the Auditor's Report. Auditors should not discard any previously existing documentation in connection with obtaining and documenting evidence after the report release date.

A57. The auditor may perform certain procedures subsequent to the report release date. For example, pursuant to AU sec. 711, Filings Under Federal Securities Statutes, auditors are required to perform certain procedures up to the effective date of a registration statement. The auditor should identify and document any additions to audit documentation as a result of these procedures. No audit documentation should be discarded after the documentation completion date, even if it is superseded in connection with any procedures performed, including those performed pursuant to AU sec. 711.

A58. Additions to the working papers may take the form of memoranda that explain the work performed, evidence obtained, and conclusions reached. Documentation added to the working papers must indicate the date the information was added, the name of the person adding it, and the reason for adding it. All previous working papers must remain intact and not be discarded.

A59. Documentation added to the working papers well after completion of the audit or other engagement is likely to be of a lesser quality than that produced contemporaneously when the procedures were performed. It is very difficult to reconstruct activities months, and perhaps years, after the work was actually performed. The turnover of both firm and company staff can cause difficulty in reconstructing conversations, meetings, data, or other evidence. Also, with the passage of time memories fade. Oral explanation can help confirm that procedures were performed during an audit, but oral explanation alone does not constitute persuasive other evidence. The primary source of evidence should be documented at the time the procedures are performed, and oral explanation should not be the primary source of evidence. Furthermore, any oral explanation should not contradict the documented evidence, and appropriate consideration should be given to the credibility of the individual providing the oral explanation.

Multi-Location Audits and Using the Work of Other Auditors

A60. The proposed standard would have required the principal auditor to maintain specific audit documentation when he or she decided not to make reference to the work of another auditor.

A61. The Board also proposed an amendment to AU sec. 543 concurrently with the proposed audit documentation standard. The proposed amendment would have required the principal auditor to review the documentation of the other auditor to the same extent and in the same manner that the audit work of all those who participated in the engagement is reviewed.

A62. Commenters expressed concerns that these proposals could present conflicts with certain non-U.S. laws. Those commenters also expressed concern about the costs associated with the requirement for the other auditor to ship their audit documentation to the principal auditor. In addition, the commenters also objected to the requirement that principal auditors review the work of other auditors as if they were the principal auditor's staff.

Audit Documentation Must be Accessible to the Office Issuing the Auditor's Report

A63. After considering these comments, the Board decided that it could achieve one of the objectives of the proposed standard (that is, to require that the issuing office have access to those working papers on which it placed reliance) without requiring that the working papers be shipped to the issuing office. Further, given the potential difficulties of shipping audit documentation from various non-U.S. locations, the Board decided to modify the proposed standard to require that audit documentation either be retained by or be accessible to the issuing office.

A64. In addition, instead of requiring that all of the working papers be shipped to the issuing office, the Board decided to require that the issuing office obtain, review, and retain certain summary documentation. Thus, the public accounting firm issuing an audit report on consolidated financial statements of a multinational company may not release that report without the documentation described in paragraph 19 of the standard.

A65. The auditor must obtain and review and retain, prior to the report release date, documentation described in paragraph 19 of the standard, in connection with work performed by other offices of the public accounting firm or other auditors, including affiliated or non-affiliated firms, that participated in the audit. For example, an auditor that uses the work of another of its offices or other affiliated or non-affiliated public accounting firms to audit a subsidiary that is material to a company's consolidated financial statements must obtain the documentation described in paragraph 19 of the standard, prior to the report release date. On the other hand, an auditor that uses the work of another of its offices or other affiliated or non-affiliated firms, to perform selected procedures, such as observing the physical inventories of a company, may not be required to obtain the documentation specified in paragraph 19 of the standard. However, this does not reduce the need for the auditor to obtain equivalent documentation prepared by the other auditor when those instances described in paragraph 19 of the standard are applicable.

Amendment to AU Sec. 543, Part of Audit Performed by Other Independent Auditors

A66. Some commenters also objected to the proposed requirement in the amendment to AU sec. 543, Part of Audit Performed by Other Independent Auditors, that the principal auditor review another auditor's audit documentation. They objected because they were of the opinion such a review would impose an unnecessary cost and burden given that the other auditor will have already reviewed the documentation in accordance with the standards established by the principal auditor. The commenters also indicated that any review by the principal auditor would add excessive time to the SEC reporting process, causing even more difficulties as the SEC Form 10-K reporting deadlines have become shorter recently and will continue to shorten next year.

A67. The Board accepted the recommendation to modify the proposed amendment to AU sec. 543, Part of Audit Performed by Other Independent Auditors. Thus, in the final amendment, the Board imposes the same unconditional responsibility on the principal auditor to obtain certain audit documentation from the other auditor prior to the report release date. The final amendment also provides that the principal auditor should consider performing one or more of the following procedures:

  • Visit the other auditors and discuss the audit procedures followed and results thereof.
     
  • Review the audit programs of the other auditors. In some cases, it may be appropriate to issue instructions to the other auditors as to the scope of the audit work.
     
  • Review additional audit documentation of the other auditors relating to significant findings or issues in the engagement completion document.

Effective Date

A68. The Board proposed that the standard and related amendment would be effective for engagements completed on or after June 15, 2004. Many commenters were concerned that the effective date was too early. They pointed out that some audits, already begun as of the proposed effective date, would be affected and that it could be difficult to retroactively apply the standard. Some commenters also recommended delaying the effective date to give auditors adequate time to develop and implement processes and provide training with respect to several aspects of the standard.

A69. After considering the comments, the Board has delayed the effective date. However, the Board also believes that a delay beyond 2004 is not in the public interest.

A70. The Board concluded that the implementation date of this standard should coincide with that of PCAOB Auditing Standard No. 2, An Audit of Internal Control Over Financial Reporting Performed in Conjunction with an Audit of Financial Statements, because of the documentation issues prevalent in PCAOB Auditing Standard No. 2. Therefore, the Board has decided that the standard will be effective for audits of financial statements with respect to fiscal years ending on or after [the later of November 15, 2004, or 30 days after the date of approval of this standard by the SEC]. The effective date for reviews of interim financial information and other engagements, conducted pursuant to the standards of the PCAOB, would occur beginning with the first quarter ending after the first financial statement audit covered by this standard.

Reference to Audit Documentation As the Property of the Auditor

A71. Several commenters noted that SAS No. 96, Audit Documentation, the interim auditing standard on audit documentation, referred to audit documentation as the property of the auditor. This was not included in the proposed standard because the Board did not believe ascribing property rights would have furthered this standard's purpose to enhance the quality of audit documentation.

Confidential Client Information

A72. SAS No. 96, Audit Documentation, also stated that, "the auditor has an ethical, and in some situations a legal, obligation to maintain the confidentiality of client information," and referenced Rule 301, Confidential Client Information, of the AICPA's Code of Professional Conduct. Again, the Board's proposed standard on audit documentation did not include this provision. In adopting certain interim standards and rules as of April 16, 2003, the Board did not adopt Rule 301 of the AICPA's Code of Professional Conduct. In this standard on audit documentation, the Board seeks neither to establish confidentiality standards nor to modify or detract from any existing applicable confidentiality requirements.

ADDENDUM

This addendum is not a part of PCAOB Auditing Standard No. 3.

Additional Documentation Requirements of SEC Rule 2-06

B1. Auditors should be aware of the additional record retention requirements in SEC Rule 2-06 of Regulation S-X ("Rule 2-06"). The Board is providing additional information below to remind auditors of the SEC requirements. This addendum is not an interpretation of Rule 2-06. Instead, this addendum provides excerpts from the SEC release accompanying the final rule which provides the SEC's interpretation of the rule's requirements, particularly paragraphs (a) and (c) of Rule 2-06.

B2. Paragraph (a) of Rule 2-06 requires that:

... the accountant shall retain ... memoranda, correspondence, communications, other documents, and records (including electronic records) which:

(1) Are created, sent or received in connection with the audit or review, and

(2) Contain conclusions, opinions, analyses, or financial data related to the audit or review.

B3. Paragraph (c) of Rule 2-06 states:

Memoranda, correspondence, communications, other documents, and records (including electronic records) described in paragraph (a) of this section shall be retained whether they support the auditor's final conclusions regarding the audit or review, or contain information or data relating to a significant matter, that is inconsistent with the auditor's final conclusions regarding that matter or the audit or review. Significance of a matter shall be determined based on an objective analysis of the facts and circumstances. Such documents and records include, but are not limited to, those documenting a consultation on or resolution of differences in professional judgment.

Other Statements by the SEC

B4. In the excerpt below, from the SEC's release accompanying its final Rule 2-06, the SEC discusses documents that generally are not required to be retained under Rule 2-06.

In the Proposing Release, we stated that non-substantive materials that are not part of the workpapers, such as administrative records, and other documents that do not contain relevant financial data or the auditor's conclusions, opinions or analyses would not meet the second of the criteria in rule 2-06(a) and would not have to be retained. Commentators questioned whether the following documents would be considered substantive and have to be retained:

  • Superseded drafts of memoranda, financial statements or regulatory filings,
     
  • Notes on superseded drafts of memoranda, financial statements or regulatory filings that reflect incomplete or preliminary thinking,
     
  • Previous copies of workpapers that have been corrected for typographical errors or errors due to training of new employees,
     
  • Duplicates of documents, or
     
  • Voice-mail messages.

These records generally would not fall within the scope of new rule 2-06 provided they do not contain information or data, relating to a significant matter that is inconsistent with the auditor's final conclusions, opinions or analyses on that matter or the audit or review. For example, rule 2-06 would require the retention of an item in this list if that item documented a consultation or resolution of differences of professional judgment.

B5. The excerpt below, from the SEC's release accompanying its final Rule 2-06, provides further explanation about documents to be retained under Rule 2-06:

In consideration of the comments received, we have revised paragraph (c) of the rule. We have removed the phrase "cast doubt" to reduce the possibility that the rule mistakenly would be interpreted to reach typographical errors, trivial or "fleeting" matters, or errors due to "on-the-job" training. We continue to believe, however, that records that either support or contain significant information that is inconsistent with the auditor's final conclusions would be relevant to an investigation of possible violations of the securities laws, Commission rules, or criminal laws and should be retained. Paragraph (c), therefore, now provides that the materials described in paragraph (a) shall be retained whether they support the auditor's final conclusions or contain information or data, relating to a significant matter that is inconsistent with the final conclusions of the auditor on that matter or on the audit or review. Paragraph (c) also states that the documents and records to be retained include, but are not limited to, those documenting consultations on or resolutions of differences in professional judgment.

The reference in paragraph (c) to "significant" matters is intended to refer to the documentation of substantive matters that are important to the audit or review process or to the financial statements of the issuer or registered investment company. Rule 2-06(c) requires that the documentation of such matters, once prepared, must be retained even if it does not "support" the auditor's final conclusions, because it may be relevant to an investigation. Similarly, the retention of records regarding a consultation about, and resolution of, differences in professional judgment would be relevant to such an investigation and must be retained. We intend for Rule 2-06 to be incremental to, and not to supersede or otherwise affect, any other legal or procedural requirement related to the retention of records or potential evidence in a legal, administrative, disciplinary, or regulatory proceeding.

Finally, we recognize that audits and reviews of financial statements are interactive processes and views within an accounting firm on accounting, auditing or disclosure issues may evolve as new information or data comes to light during the audit or review. We do not view "differences in professional judgment" within subparagraph (c) to include such changes in preliminary views when those preliminary views are based on what is recognized to be incomplete information or data.

Amendment to Interim Auditing Standards

AU sec. 543.12 is amended as follows:

When the principal auditor decides not to make reference to the audit of the other auditor, in addition to satisfying himself as to the matters described in AU sec. 543.10, the principal auditor must obtain, and review and retain, the following information from the other auditor:

a. An engagement completion document consistent with paragraphs 12 and 13 of PCAOB Auditing Standard No. 3

Note: This engagement completion document should include all cross-referenced, supporting audit documentation.

b. A list of significant fraud risk factors, the auditor's response, and the results of the auditor's related procedures.

c. Sufficient information relating to significant findings or issues that are inconsistent with or contradict the auditor's final conclusions, as described in paragraph 8 of PCAOB Auditing Standard No. 3.

d. Any findings affecting the consolidating or combining of accounts in the consolidated financial statements.

e. Sufficient information to enable the office issuing the auditor's report to agree or reconcile the financial statement amounts audited by the other firm to the information underlying the consolidated financial statements.

f. A schedule of audit adjustments, including a description of the nature and cause of each misstatement.

g. All significant deficiencies and material weaknesses in internal control over financial reporting, including a clear distinction between those two categories.

h. Letters of representations from management.

i. All matters to be communicated to the audit committee.

The principal auditor must obtain, and review and retain, such documents prior to the report release date.11 In addition, the principal auditor should consider performing one or more of the following procedures:

  • Visit the other auditor and discuss the audit procedures followed and results thereof.
     
  • Review the audit programs of the other auditor. In some cases, it may be appropriate to issue instructions to the other auditor as to the scope of the audit work.
     
  • Review additional audit documentation of the other auditor relating to significant findings or issues in the engagement completion document.

II. Board's Statement of the Purpose of, and Statutory Basis for, the Proposed Rules

In its filing with the Commission, the Board included statements concerning the purpose of, and basis for, the proposed rules and discussed any comments it received on the proposed rules. The text of these statements may be examined at the places specified in Item IV below. The Board has prepared summaries, set forth in sections A, B, and C below, of the most significant aspects of such statements.

A. Board's Statement of the Purpose of, and Statutory Basis for, the Proposed Rules

(a) Purpose

Section 103(a)(1) of the Act authorizes the PCAOB to establish, by rule, auditing standards to be used by registered public accounting firms in the preparation and issuance of audit reports, as required by the Act. PCAOB Rule 3100, "Compliance with Auditing and Related Professional Practice Standards," requires auditors to comply with all applicable auditing and related professional practice standards established by the PCAOB. The Board has adopted as interim standards, on an initial, transitional basis, the generally accepted auditing standards described in the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants' ("AICPA") Auditing Standards Board's Statement on Auditing Standards No. 95, Generally Accepted Auditing Standards, as in existence on April 16, 2003 (the "interim standards").

Section 103(a)(2)(A)(i) of the Act expressly directs the Board to establish auditing standards that require registered public accounting firms to prepare, and maintain for at least seven years, audit documentation "in sufficient detail to support the conclusions reached" in the auditor's report. These proposed rules are the standards referred to in Section 103(a)(2)(A)(i) of the Act.

(b) Statutory Basis

The statutory basis for the proposed rules is Title I of the Act.

B. Board's Statement on Burden on Competition

The Board does not believe that the proposed rule will result in any burden on competition that is not necessary or appropriate in furtherance of the purposes of the Act.  Pursuant to the Act and PCAOB Rule 3100, auditing and related professional practice standards established by the PCAOB must be complied with by all registered public accounting firms.

C. Board's Statement on Comments on the Proposed Rule Received from Members, Participants or Others

The Board released the proposed rule for public comment in PCAOB Release No. 2003-023 (November 21, 2003). A copy of PCAOB Release No. 2003-023 and the comment letters received in response to the PCAOB's request for comment are available on the PCAOB's web site at www.pcaobus.org. The Board received 38 written comments. The Board has clarified and modified certain aspects of the proposed rules in response to comments it received, as discussed below:

Several commenters suggested that audit documentation should include audit programs. Audit programs were specifically mentioned in SAS No. 96 as a form of audit documentation. The Board accepted this recommendation, and paragraph 4 in the final standard includes audit programs as an example of documentation. Audit programs may provide evidence of audit planning as well as limited evidence of the execution of audit procedures, but the Board believes that signed-off audit programs should generally not be used as the sole documentation that a procedure was performed, evidence was obtained, or a conclusion was reached. An audit program aids in the conduct and supervision of an engagement, but completed and initialed audit program steps should be supported with proper documentation in the working papers.

Some commenters suggested that the final standard more specifically describe the qualifications of an experienced auditor. These commenters took the position that only an engagement partner with significant years of experience would have the experience necessary to be able to understand all the work that was performed and the conclusions that were reached. One commenter suggested that an auditor who is reviewing audit documentation should have experience and knowledge consistent with the experience and knowledge that the auditor performing the audit would be required to possess, including knowledge of the current accounting, auditing, and financial reporting issues of the company's industry. Another said that the characteristics defining an experienced auditor should be consistent with those expected of the auditor with final responsibility for the engagement.

After considering these comments, the Board has provided additional specificity about the meaning of the term, experienced auditor. The standard now describes an experienced auditor as one who has a reasonable understanding of audit activities and has studied the company's industry as well as the accounting and auditing issues relevant to the industry.

Some commenters also suggested that the standard, as proposed, did not allow for the use of professional judgment. These commenters pointed to the omission of a statement about professional judgment found in paragraph 4.23 of GAGAS that states, "The quantity, type, and content of audit documentation are a matter of the auditors' professional judgment." A nearly identical statement was found in the interim auditing standard, SAS No. 96, Audit Documentation.

Auditors exercise professional judgment in nearly every aspect of planning, performing, and reporting on an audit. Auditors also exercise professional judgment in the documentation of an audit and other engagements. An objective of this standard is to ensure that auditors give proper consideration to the need to document procedures performed, evidence obtained, and conclusions reached in light of time and cost considerations in completing an engagement.

Nothing in the standard precludes auditors from exercising their professional judgment. Moreover, because professional judgment might relate to any aspect of an audit, the Board does not believe that an explicit reference to professional judgment is necessary every time the use of professional judgment may be appropriate.

A guiding principle of the proposed standard was that auditors must document procedures performed, evidence obtained, and conclusions reached. This principle is not new and was found in the interim standard, SAS No. 96, Audit Documentation, which this standard supersedes. Audit documentation also should demonstrate compliance with the standards of the PCAOB and include justification for any departures.

The proposed standard would have adapted a provision in the California Business and Professions Code which provides that if documentation does not exist, then there is a rebuttable presumption that the work had not been done.

The objections to this proposal fell into two general categories: the effect of the rebuttable presumption on legal proceedings and the perceived impracticality of documenting every conversation or conclusion that affected the engagement. Discussion of these issues follows.

Commenters expressed concern about the effects of the proposed language on regulatory or legal proceedings outside the context of the PCAOB's oversight. They argued that the rebuttable presumption might be understood to establish evidentiary rules for use in judicial and administrative proceedings in other jurisdictions.

Some commenters also had concerns that oral explanation alone would not constitute persuasive other evidence that work was done, absent any documentation. Those commenters argued that not allowing oral explanations when there was no documentation would essentially make the presumption "irrebuttable." Moreover, those commenters argued that it was inappropriate for a professional standard to predetermine for a court the relative value of evidence.

The Board believes that complete audit documentation is necessary for a quality audit or other engagement. The Board intends the standard to require auditors to document procedures performed, evidence obtained, and conclusions reached to improve the quality of audits. The Board also intends that a deficiency in documentation is a departure from the Board's standards. Thus, although the Board removed the phrase rebuttable presumption, the Board continues to stress, in paragraph 9 of the standard, that the auditor must have persuasive other evidence that the procedures were performed, evidence was obtained, and appropriate conclusions were reached with respect to relevant financial statement assertions.

The term should (presumptively mandatory responsibility) was changed to must (unconditional responsibility) in paragraph 6 to establish a higher threshold for the auditor. Auditors have an unconditional requirement to document their work. Failure to discharge an unconditional responsibility is a violation of the standard and Rule 3100, which requires all registered public accounting firms to adhere to the Board's auditing and related professional practice standards in connection with an audit or review of an issuer's financial statements.

The Board also added two new paragraphs to the final standard to explain the importance and associated responsibility of performing the work and adequately documenting all work that was performed. Paragraph 7 provides a list of factors the auditor should consider in determining the nature and extent of documentation. These factors should be considered by both the auditor in preparing the documentation and the reviewer in evaluating the documentation.

Some commenters expressed concern that the proposed standard could be construed or interpreted to require the auditor to document every conversation held with company management or among the engagement team members. Some commenters also argued that they should not be required to document every conclusion, including preliminary conclusions that were part of a thought process that may have led them to a different conclusion, on the ground that this would result in needless and costly work performed by the auditor. Commenters also expressed concern that an unqualified requirement to document procedures performed, evidence obtained, and conclusions reached without allowing the use of auditor judgment would increase the volume of documentation but not the quality. They stated that it would be unnecessary, time-consuming, and potentially counterproductive to require the auditor to make a written record of everything he or she did.

The Board's standard distinguishes between (1) an audit procedure that must be documented and (2) a conversation with company management or among the members of the engagement team. Inquiries with management should be documented when an inquiry is important to a particular procedure. The inquiry could take place during planning, performance, or reporting. The auditor need not document each conversation that occurred.

A final conclusion is an integral part of a working paper, unless the working paper is only for informational purposes, such as documentation of a discussion or a process. This standard does not require that the auditor document each interim conclusion reached in arriving at the risk assessments or final conclusions. Conclusions reached early on during an audit may be based on incomplete information or an incorrect understanding. Nevertheless, auditors should document a final conclusion for every audit procedure performed, if that conclusion is not readily apparent based on documented results of the procedures.

The Board also believes the reference to specialists is an important element of paragraph 6. Specialists play a vital role in audit engagements. For example, appraisers, actuaries, and environmental consultants provide valuable data concerning asset values, calculation assumptions, and loss reserves. When using the work of a specialist, the auditor must ensure that the specialist's work, as it relates to the audit objectives, also is adequately documented. For example, if the auditor relies on the work of an appraiser in obtaining the fair value of commercial property available for sale, then the auditor must ensure the appraisal report is adequately documented. Moreover, the term specialist in this standard is intended to include any specialist the auditor relies on in conducting the work, including those employed or retained by the auditor or by the company.

Several commenters recommended that the definition of audit adjustments in this proposed standard should be consistent with the definition contained in AU sec. 380, Communication with Audit Committees.

Although the Board recognizes potential benefits of having a uniform definition of the term audit adjustments, the Board does not believe that the definition in AU sec. 380 is appropriate for this documentation standard because that definition was intended for communication with audit committees. The Board believes that the definition should be broader so that the engagement partner, engagement quality reviewer, and others can be aware of all proposed corrections of misstatements, whether or not recorded by the entity, of which the auditor is aware, that were or should have been proposed based on the audit evidence.

The proposed standard would have required an auditor to retain audit documentation for seven years after completion of the engagement, which is the minimum period permitted under Section 103(a)(2)(A)(i) of the Act. In addition, the proposed standard would have added a new requirement that the audit documentation must be assembled for retention within a reasonable period of time after the auditor's report is released. Such reasonable period of time should not exceed 45 days.

In general, those commenting on this documentation retention requirement did not have concerns with the time period of 45 days to assemble the working papers. However, some commenters suggested the Board tie this 45-day requirement to the filing date of the company's financial statements with the SEC. One commenter recommended that the standard refer to the same trigger date for initiating both the time period during which the auditor should complete work paper assembly and the beginning of the seven-year retention period.

For consistency and practical implications, the Board agreed that the standard should have the same date for the auditor to start assembling the audit documentation and initiating the seven-year retention period. The Board decided that the seven-year retention period begins on the report release date, which is defined as the date the auditor grants permission to use the auditor's report in connection with the issuance of the company's financial statements. In addition, auditors will have 45 days to assemble the complete and final set of audit documentation, beginning on the report release date. The Board believes that using the report release date is preferable to using the filing date of the company's financial statements, since the auditor has ultimate control over granting permission to use his or her report. If an auditor's report is not issued, then the audit documentation is to be retained for seven years from the date that fieldwork was substantially completed. If the auditor was unable to complete the engagement, then the seven-year period begins when the work on the engagement ceased.

Many commenters had concerns about the similarity in language between the proposed standard and the SEC final rule (issued in January 2003) on record retention, Retention of Records Relevant to Audits and Reviews.12 Some commenters recommended that the PCAOB undertake a project to identify and resolve all differences between the proposed standard and the SEC's final rule. These commenters also suggested that the Board include similar language from the SEC final rule, Rule 2-06 of Regulation S-X, which limits the requirement to retain some items.

The objective of the Board's standard is different from the objective of the SEC's rule on record retention. The objective of the Board's standard is to require auditors to create certain documentation to enhance the quality of audit documentation, thereby improving the quality of audits and other related engagements. The records retention section of this standard, mandated by Section 103 of the Act, requires registered public accounting firms to "prepare and maintain for a period of not less than 7 years, audit work papers, and other information related to any audit report, in sufficient detail to support the conclusions reached in such report." (emphasis added)

In contrast, the focus of the SEC rule is to require auditors to retain documents that the auditor does create, in order that those documents will be available in the event of a regulatory investigation or other proceeding.

Despite their different objectives, the proposed standard and SEC Rule 2-06 use similar language in describing documentation generated during an audit or review. Paragraph 4 of the proposed standard stated that, "Audit documentation ordinarily consists of memoranda, correspondence, schedules, and other documents created or obtained in connection with the engagement and may be in the form of paper, electronic files, or other media." Paragraph (a) of SEC Rule 2-06 describes "records relevant to the audit or review" that must be retained as, (1) "workpapers and other documents that form the basis of the audit or review and (2) memoranda, correspondence, communications, other documents, and records (including electronic records), which: [a]re created, sent or received in connection with the audit or review and [c]ontain conclusions, opinions, analyses, or financial data related to the audit or review. ..." (numbering and emphasis added).

The SEC makes a distinction between the objectives of categories (1) and (2). Category (1) includes audit documentation. Documentation to be retained according to the Board's standard clearly falls within category (1). Items in category (2) include "desk files" which are more than "what traditionally has been thought of as auditor's 'workpapers'." The SEC's rule requiring auditors to retain items in category (2) have the principal purpose of facilitating enforcement of securities laws, SEC rules, and criminal laws. This is not an objective of the Board's standard. According to SEC Rule 2-06, items in category (2) are limited to those which: (a) are created, sent or received in connection with the audit or review, and (b) contain conclusions, opinions, analyses, or financial data related to the audit or review. The limitations, (a) and (b), do not apply to category (1).

Paragraph 4 of the final standard deletes the reference in the proposed standard to "other documents created or obtained in connection with the engagement." The Board decided to keep "correspondence" in the standard because correspondence can be valid audit evidence. Paragraph 20 of the standard reminds the auditor that he or she may be required to maintain documentation in addition to that required by this standard.

Some commenters asked how the term significant matters, in Rule 2-06, relates to the term significant findings or issues in the Board's standard. The SEC's release accompanying its final Rule 2-06 states that "... significant matters is intended to refer to the documentation of substantive matters that are important to the audit or review process or to the financial statements of the issuer. ..." This is very similar to the term significant findings or issues contained in paragraph 12 of the Board's standard which requires auditors to document significant findings or issues, actions taken to address them (including additional evidence obtained), and the basis for the conclusions reached. Examples of significant findings or issues are provided in the standard.

Based on the explanation in the SEC's final rule and accompanying release, the Board believes that significant matters are included in the meaning of significant findings or issues in the Board's standard. The Board is of the view that significant findings or issues is more comprehensive and provides more clarity than significant matters and, therefore, has not changed the wording in the final standard.

The proposed standard would have required that any changes to the working papers after completion of the engagement be documented without deleting or discarding the original documents. Such documentation must indicate the date the information was added, by whom it was added, and the reason for adding it.

One commenter recommended that the Board provide examples of auditing procedures that should be performed before the report release date and procedures that may be performed after the report release date. Some commenters also requested clarification about the treatment of changes to documentation that occurred after the completion of the engagement but before the report release date. Many commenters recommended that the Board more specifically describe post-issuance procedures. The Board generally agreed with these comments.

The final standard includes two important dates for the preparation of audit documentation: (1) the report release date and (2) the documentation completion date.

  • Prior to the report release date, the auditor must have completed all necessary auditing procedures, including clearing review notes and providing support for all final conclusions. In addition, the auditor must have obtained sufficient evidence to support the representations in the auditor's reports before the report release date.
     
  • After the report release date and prior to the documentation completion date, the auditor has 45 calendar days in which to assemble the documentation.

During the audit, audit documentation may be superseded for various reasons. Often, during the review process, reviewers annotate the documentation with clarifications, questions, and edits. The completion process often involves revising the documentation electronically and generating a new copy. The SEC's final rule on record retention explains that the SEC rule does not require that the following documents generally need to be retained: superseded drafts of memoranda, financial statements or regulatory filings; notes on superseded drafts of memoranda, financial statements or regulatory filings that reflect incomplete or preliminary thinking; previous copies of workpapers that have been corrected for typographical errors or errors due to training of new employees; and duplicates of documents. This standard also does not require auditors to retain such documents as a general matter.

Any documents, however, that reflect information that is either inconsistent with or contradictory to the conclusions contained in the final working papers may not be discarded. Any documents added must indicate the date they were added, the name of the person who prepared them, and the reason for adding them.

If the auditor obtains and documents evidence after the report release date, the auditor should refer to the interim auditing standards, AU sec. 390, Consideration of Omitted Procedures After the Report Date and AU sec. 561, Subsequent Discovery of Facts Existing at the Date of the Auditor's Report. Auditors should not discard any previously existing documentation in connection with obtaining and documenting evidence after the report release date.

The auditor may perform certain procedures subsequent to the report release date. For example, pursuant to AU sec. 711, Filings Under Federal Securities Statutes, auditors are required to perform certain procedures up to the effective date of a registration statement. The auditor should identify and document any additions to audit documentation as a result of these procedures. No audit documentation should be discarded after the documentation completion date, even if it is superseded in connection with any procedures performed, including those performed pursuant to AU sec. 711.

Additions to the working papers may take the form of memoranda that explain the work performed, evidence obtained, and conclusions reached. Documentation added to the working papers must indicate the date the information was added, the name of the person adding it, and the reason for adding it. All previous working papers must remain intact and not be discarded.

Documentation added to the working papers well after completion of the audit or other engagement is likely to be of a lesser quality than that produced contemporaneously when the procedures were performed. It is very difficult to reconstruct activities months, and perhaps years, after the work was actually performed. The turnover of both firm and company staff can cause difficulty in reconstructing conversations, meetings, data, or other evidence. Also, with the passage of time memories fade. Oral explanation can help confirm that procedures were performed during an audit, but oral explanation alone does not constitute persuasive other evidence. The primary source of evidence should be documented at the time the procedures are performed, and oral explanation should not be the primary source of evidence. Furthermore, any oral explanation should not contradict the documented evidence, and appropriate consideration should be given to the credibility of the individual providing the oral explanation.

The proposed standard would have required the principal auditor to maintain specific audit documentation when he or she decided not to make reference to the work of another auditor.

The Board also proposed an amendment to AU sec. 543 concurrently with the proposed audit documentation standard. The proposed amendment would have required the principal auditor to review the documentation of the other auditor to the same extent and in the same manner that the audit work of all those who participated in the engagement is reviewed.

Commenters expressed concerns that these proposals could present conflicts with certain non-U.S. laws. Those commenters also expressed concern about the costs associated with the requirement for the other auditor to ship their audit documentation to the principal auditor. In addition, the commenters also objected to the requirement that principal auditors review the work of other auditors as if they were the principal auditor's staff.

After considering these comments, the Board decided that it could achieve one of the objectives of the proposed standard (that is, to require that the issuing office have access to those working papers on which it placed reliance) without requiring that the working papers be shipped to the issuing office. Further, given the potential difficulties of shipping audit documentation from various non-U.S. locations, the Board decided to modify the proposed standard to require that audit documentation either be retained by or be accessible to the issuing office.

In addition, instead of requiring that all of the working papers be shipped to the issuing office, the Board decided to require that the issuing office obtain, review, and retain certain summary documentation. Thus, the public accounting firm issuing an audit report on consolidated financial statements of a multinational company may not release that report without the documentation described in paragraph 19 of the standard.

Some commenters also objected to the proposed requirement in the amendment to AU sec. 543, Part of Audit Performed by Other Independent Auditors, that the principal auditor review another auditor's audit documentation. They objected because they were of the opinion such a review would impose an unnecessary cost and burden given that the other auditor will have already reviewed the documentation in accordance with the standards established by the principal auditor. The commenters also indicated that any review by the principal auditor would add excessive time to the SEC reporting process, causing even more difficulties as the SEC Form 10-K reporting deadlines have become shorter recently and will continue to shorten next year.

The Board accepted the recommendation to modify the proposed amendment to AU sec. 543, Part of Audit Performed by Other Independent Auditors. Thus, in the final amendment, the Board imposes the same unconditional responsibility on the principal auditor to obtain certain audit documentation from the other auditor prior to the report release date. The final amendment also provides that the principal auditor should consider performing one or more of the following procedures:

  • Visit the other auditors and discuss the audit procedures followed and results thereof.
     
  • Review the audit programs of the other auditors. In some cases, it may be appropriate to issue instructions to the other auditors as to the scope of the audit work.
     
  • Review additional audit documentation of the other auditors relating to significant findings or issues in the engagement completion document.

The Board proposed that the standard and related amendment would be effective for engagements completed on or after June 15, 2004. Many commenters were concerned that the effective date was too early. They pointed out that some audits, already begun as of the proposed effective date, would be affected and that it could be difficult to retroactively apply the standard. Some commenters also recommended delaying the effective date to give auditors adequate time to develop and implement processes and provide training with respect to several aspects of the standard.

After considering the comments, the Board has delayed the effective date. However, the Board also believes that a delay beyond 2004 is not in the public interest. The Board concluded that the implementation date of this standard should coincide with that of PCAOB Auditing Standard No. 2, An Audit of Internal Control Over Financial Reporting Performed in Conjunction with an Audit of Financial Statements, because of the documentation issues prevalent in PCAOB Auditing Standard No. 2. Therefore, the Board has decided that the standard will be effective for audits of financial statements with respect to fiscal years ending on or after [the later of November 15, 2004, or 30 days after the date of approval of this standard by the SEC]. The effective date for reviews of interim financial information and other engagements, conducted pursuant to the standards of the PCAOB, would occur beginning with the first quarter ending after the first financial statement audit covered by this standard.

Several commenters noted that SAS No. 96, Audit Documentation, the interim auditing standard on audit documentation, referred to audit documentation as the property of the auditor. This was not included in the proposed standard because the Board did not believe ascribing property rights would have furthered this standard's purpose to enhance the quality of audit documentation.

SAS No. 96, Audit Documentation, also stated that, "the auditor has an ethical, and in some situations a legal, obligation to maintain the confidentiality of client information," and referenced Rule 301, Confidential Client Information, of the AICPA's Code of Professional Conduct. Again, the Board's proposed standard on audit documentation did not include this provision. In adopting certain interim standards and rules as of April 16, 2003, the Board did not adopt Rule 301 of the AICPA's Code of Professional Conduct. In this standard on audit documentation, the Board seeks neither to establish confidentiality standards nor to modify or detract from any existing applicable confidentiality requirements.

III. Date of Effectiveness of the Proposed Rule and Timing for Commission Action

Within 35 days of the date of publication of this notice in the Federal Register or within such longer period (i) as the Commission may designate up to 90 days of such date if it finds such longer period to be appropriate and publishes its reasons for so finding or (ii) as to which the Board consents, the Commission will:

(a) by order approve such proposed rule; or

(b) institute proceedings to determine whether the proposed rule should be disapproved.

IV. Solicitation of Comments

Interested persons are invited to submit written data, views, and arguments concerning the foregoing, including whether the proposed rule is consistent with the requirements of Title I of the Act. Comments may be submitted by any of the following methods:

Electronic comments:

Paper comments:

  • Send paper comments in triplicate to Jonathan G. Katz, Secretary, Securities and Exchange Commission, 450 Fifth Street, NW, Washington, DC 20549-0609.

All submissions should refer to File No. PCAOB-2004-05. This file number should be included on the subject line if e-mail is used. To help the Commission process and review your comments more efficiently, please use only one method. The Commission will post all comments on the Commission's Internet Web site (http://www.sec.gov/rules/pcaob.shtml). Copies of the submission, all subsequent amendments, all written statements with respect to the proposed rule that are filed with the Commission, and all written communications relating to the proposed rule change between the Commission and any person, other than those that may be withheld from the public in accordance with the provisions of 5 U.S.C. 552, will be available for inspection and copying in the Commission's Public Reference Section, 450 Fifth Street, NW, Washington, DC 20549. Copies of such filing also will be available for inspection and copying at the principal office of PCAOB. All comments received will be posted without change; we do not edit personal identifying information from submissions. You should submit only information that you wish to make available publicly. All submissions should refer to File No. PCAOB-2004-05 and should be submitted on or before August 10, 2004.

By the Commission.

Margaret H. McFarland,
Deputy Secretary

1 See paragraph 12 of this standard for a description of significant findings or issues.

2 Relevant financial statement assertions are described in paragraphs 68-70 of PCAOB Auditing Standard No. 2, An Audit of Internal Control Over Financial Reporting Performed in Conjunction with An Audit of Financial Statements.

3 Section 11 of the Securities Act of 1933 makes specific mention of the auditor's responsibility as an expert when the auditor's report is included in a registration statement under the 1933 Act.

4 Section 106(b) of the Sarbanes-Oxley Act of 2002 imposes certain requirements concerning production of the work papers of a foreign public accounting firm on whose opinion or services the auditor relies. Compliance with this standard does not substitute for compliance with Section 106(b) or any other applicable law.

5 For example, the SEC requires auditors to retain, in addition to documentation required by this standard, memoranda, correspondence, communications (for example, electronic mail), other documents, and records (in the form of paper, electronic, or other media) that are created, sent, or received in connection with an engagement conducted in accordance with auditing and related professional practice standards and that contain conclusions, opinions, analyses, or data related to the engagement. (Retention of Audit and Review Records, 17 CFR 210.2-06, effective for audits or reviews completed on or after October 31, 2003.)

6 The engagement quality reviewer is referred to as the concurring partner reviewer in the membership requirements of the AICPA SEC Practice Section. The Board adopted certain of these membership requirements as they existed on April 16, 2003. Some firms also may refer to this designated reviewer as the second partner reviewer.

7 U.S. General Accounting Office, Government Auditing Standards, "Field Work Standards for Financial Audits" (2003 Revision), paragraph 4.22.

8 Panel on Audit Effectiveness, Report and Recommendations (Stamford, Ct: Public Oversight Board, August 31, 2000).

9 SEC Regulation S-X, 17 CFR 210.2-06 (SEC Release No. 33-8180, January 2003). (The final rule was effective in March 2003.)

10 See footnote 4.

11 As it relates to the direction in paragraph .19 of AU sec. 324, for the auditor to "give consideration to the guidance in section 543.12," the auditor need not, in this circumstance, obtain the previously enumerated documents.

12 SEC Regulation S-X, 17 CFR 210.2-06 (SEC Release No. 33-8180, January 2003). (The final rule was effective in March 2003.)

 

http://www.sec.gov/rules/pcaob/34-50012.htm


Modified: 07/28/2003