Peer review is a systemic evaluation of a sole practitioner's or CPA firm's (hereinafter referred to as "firm") system of quality control over its accounting and auditing practice. It focuses on monitoring individuals' and firms' conformity with professional standards and is one of the self-regulatory tools used by the profession to protect the CPA hallmark and the public interest.
Peer review does not cover tax, consulting, investment advisory or other services.
Firms participate in peer review in order to meet individual membership requirements of the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants (AICPA), state licensing requirements as well as Government Auditing Standards (i.e., the "Yellow Book") if the firm performs engagements subject to Government Auditing Standards.
Yes. Firms that perform audits and/or examinations level attestation engagements must undergo a system review. Firms that perform reviews or compilations are eligible for an engagement review, but may opt to have a system review.
In a system review, the peer reviewer tests all elements of the firm's quality control system (Leadership Responsibilities for Quality Within the Firm, Relevant Ethical Requirements, Acceptance and Continuance of Client Relationships and Specific Engagements; Human Resources; Engagement Performance; and Monitoring), including a representative sample of the firm's engagements, and issues an opinion regarding the design of and firm's compliance with its quality control system. Findings, if any, are written from a system perspective and may include reviewer recommendations and a firm response.
In an engagement review, the peer reviewer tests a limited number of engagements based on specific selection guidelines and reports all noted departures from professional standards. Findings, if any, are written from an engagement perspective and may include reviewer recommendations and a firm response.
Yes and no. Firms and sole practitioners may be required to allow their peer review results to be posted to the AICPA Public File as a condition of membership in the Center for Audit Quality (CAQ), Governmental Audit Quality Center (GAQC), Employee Benefit Plan Audit Quality Center (EBPAQC), and/or Private Companies Practice Section (PCPS). Additionally, firms and sole practitioners may elect to voluntarily allow their results to be shared within this database. The peer review results of firms and sole practitioners that are not either members of the above or do not elect to share their results remain confidential.
However, the following general information is available for all AICPA member firms and sole practitioners in the Firm Search section of the AICPA Public File:
- The firm’s name and address
- The fact that the firm is enrolled in the AICPA Peer Review Program
- The date of acceptance and the period covered by the firm’s most recently accepted peer review
- Whether the firm’s enrollment in the program was terminated or dropped
One may also search the Public File by city or state, and thereby obtain a list of all enrolled firms in that particular city or state.
More information related to the peer review program can be found on the AICPA's Peer Review website.