Enhancing Audit Quality: See the profession’s 2017 progress

February 8, 2018

As business and regulatory environments evolve and become increasingly complex, the CPA profession’s commitment to performing quality audits becomes even more essential. The AICPA’s Enhancing Audit Quality (EAQ) initiative, launched in 2014, aligns all AICPA audit- and assurance-related activities with the goal of supporting firms’ quality improvement.

EAQ made great strides toward this goal in 2017. The “Enhancing Audit Quality: 2017 Highlights and Progress” report, available at aicpa.org/EAQhighlights, lays out how the profession has been promoting quality in the past year. Here are a few examples of this progress.

Peer Review

Reinforcing compliance with auditing standards through peer review is at the heart of EAQ. Throughout 2017, the Peer Review Board continued to implement reforms to improve reviewer performance and the effectiveness of the Peer Review Program. These reforms have resulted in:

  • Reviewers getting better at detecting quality issues
  • More reviewers getting the remediation necessary to improve their performance
  • More firms getting the help they need to perform better audits


The most common cause of audit quality issues? Inadequate documentation. More than 50 percent of all non-conformity with professional standards is due to inadequate documentation.

To help firms document appropriately, the AICPA:

  • Created a free documentation toolkit available at aicpa.org/documentation with resources such as sample working papers and a tool for SOC 1™ consideration
  • Developed targeted communications and education to raise awareness

Single audits

The AICPA conducted a study of single audits in 2016 and identified three key factors that strongly correlated to quality performance in the sample:

1.       Size of single audit practice (regardless of firm size)

2.       Governmental Audit Quality Center (GAQC) membership

3.       Qualifications of the engagement partner

The AICPA raised awareness of these factors through communications and resources for firms. And to help auditees prepare for these audits, we created resources at aicpa.org/auditeeresources.

Quality control

To help firms with their quality control systems, we created a free Invigorate the Focus on Quality Toolkit at aicpa.org/pcps/quality. The toolkit has resources such as an audit and accounting practice aid firms can use to develop the policies and procedures for their system of quality control (available at aicpa.org/qc4me) and a practice aid on establishing and maintaining a system of quality control.

Auditing in the Future

The audit is changing. New, emerging technologies are transforming how we work and live, and the market is seeking assurance on information not contained in traditional financial statements. Through our Auditing in the Future initiative, the AICPA is getting auditors ready for the needs of tomorrow’s marketplace.

In 2017, some of that preparation included:

  • A Guide to Audit Data Analytics that describes how data analytics can make the audit process more effective and bring additional insights
  • A cybersecurity risk management reporting framework to help organizations of all sizes, in industries worldwide, take a proactive approach against cyberattacks
  • An authoritative guide on sustainability assurance engagements

Through EAQ, the AICPA is guiding the profession through quality improvement that will lead to enhanced performance over time. To learn more about this year’s achievements, view the full “Enhancing Audit Quality: 2017 Highlights and Progress” report at aicpa.org/EAQhighlights.