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Generally Accepted Auditing Standards (GAAS) are the auditing standards followed by public accounting firms and certified public accountants (CPA) when performing audits. These standards help ensure quality audits are conducted on companies and businesses operating in the economic market place. The American Institute of Certified Public Accountants (AICPA) is responsible for developing and implementing Generally Accepted Auditing Standards in the accounting industry. The standards were originally developed in 1947 and have undergone relatively few changes; any changes to the standards have been relatively minor rather than a complete overhaul.
Generally Accepted Auditing Standards consist of three major sections: general standards, standards of fieldwork and standards of reporting. Each section plays an important role in the auditing process. Accounting firms and CPAs must also meet certain requirements in the standards regarding technical ability, competence and integrity when conducting an audit. These requirements ensure that all audits are conducted by qualified individuals who have the proper understanding of the importance of the audit process. These requirements are listed in the general standards of Generally Accepted Auditing Standards.
The general standards or GAAS have three main requirements or guidelines for individuals conducting audits. First, the auditor must have adequate technical training and proficiency in the auditing process. Second, the auditor must maintain an independent attitude when performing audit functions for the company. Third, auditors must use professional care during the audit and when writing the final audit report. The second set of standards in Generally Accepted Auditing Standards deals with the fieldwork phase of the audit.
The fieldwork phase of audits is where the bulk of auditing takes place. GAAS has three standards auditors must follow during the fieldwork phase. First, auditors must adequately plan the fieldwork phase and be properly supervise all assistant auditors. The auditor must have a sufficient understanding of the company, the company’s operating environment and any related internal controls. This helps the auditor determine the material impact of financial items on the company’s financial statements. Third, the auditor must obtain sufficient evidence when performing audit procedures to form an opinion regarding financial information during the audit. The final part of Generally Accepted Auditing Standards deals with the audit reporting phase.
Issuing a final audit report is the last phase of GAAS. The standards of reporting under GAAS require auditors to state whether the company’s financial statements comply with Generally Accepted Accounting Principles (GAAP). Auditors must also clearly state any variances in the financial statements that do not comply with GAAP and whether any financial disclosures are adequate for disclosing pertinent financial information. Finally, the auditor must express a final opinion on the audit, indicating that auditor approves or disapproves of the company’s financial information and statements.