Governmental Auditing - The Yellow Book


Governmental financial statements and auditing rules are not the same as those for commercial entities. Governmental audits play a critical role in keeping the performance, cost, and stewardship of government operations, programs, and policies in check. The Yellow Book, issued by the U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO), outlines Generally Accepted Government Auditing Standards (GAGAS), which help to ensure that government audits are performed with competence, integrity, and objectivity.

Among the standards and guidance are the rules for external peer review and quality control, both of which are underscored as necessary and important from time to time in the news. These rules are explained, as are the different tasks and responsibilities of the different types of professionals on a typical audit engagement team.

The course also provides a walk-through of the Yellow Book highlighting the most important rules and the updates made with the most recent revision. No such walk-through of standards would be complete without a discussion of the GAO's CPE alert, issued in 2020 to modify continuing education requirements (temporarily) as well as the technical changes made to GAGAS in 2021. This course informs the student of such updates.

Learning Objectives

Upon completion of this course, students will be able to:

  • identify the Yellow Book's purpose, the different groups who use it in their work, and in which engagements Yellow Book standards must be applied
  • understand the relationship between GAGAS requirements and other professional auditing standards issued by organizations like the AICPA, PCAOB, and IAASB
  • pinpoint when and how auditors are required to cite compliance with GAGAS or other professional standards in an audit report
  • identify the seven types of threats auditor independence in a GAGAS engagement, and identify which non-audit services automatically impair auditor independence.
  • identify an audit organization's responsibility under GAGAS both to ensure the competence of its audit staff and retain documentation of their CPE, and to maintain a system of quality control and monitoring.
  • locate the Yellow Book chapters containing additional GAGAS requirements for financial audits, attestation engagements and reviews of financial statements.
  • recognize the fieldwork and reporting requirements that apply to performance audits subject to GAGAS
  • identify the four required elements of an audit finding identified in the Yellow Book, and the seven elements that make up a quality audit report under GAGAS.
  • pinpoint the impact of all updates and revisions to the 2018 Yellow Book as of the 2021 technical update

Designed For

CPAs, CIAs, new and seasoned auditors of all types, especially for those involved with governmental entity audits

Advanced Preparation


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