The AICPA and Government Auditing Standards a Comparison

Lori Stacy


The concept of auditing, as a profession, is wide and varied. The concept often connotates a certified public accountant (CPA)--the person, in a three piece suit, who hands Bert Parks the tabulated judges' scores for the Miss America pageant or the person, with rolled up sleeves, who wears a visor while going through green ledgers. Actually, while auditors can and do fit these descriptions, the scope of what they do is much broader than that initial impression leads one to believe. Auditors can be found in many aspects of business, ranging from the well-known financial audit to the performance audit where they advise management on the effectiveness of management's business decisions. They are also present at many levels of government, both as external and internal auditors

Earlier in the history of auditing, when the scope of auditing was much narrower and included mainly financial audits, one set of auditing standards was enough guidance for the auditor in practice. However, today there are three sets of standards governing auditing. The American Institute of Certified Public Accountants (AICPA) Professional Standards, the Standards for Audit of Governmental Organizations, Programs, Activities. and Functions, and the Standards for the Professional Practice of Internal Auditing

The purpose of this study is to look at the relationship of the first two--the AICPA standards and the Government Standards, commonly called the Yellow Book. The study's first step is to review the history of the standards with the intention of developing an understanding of today's auditing position. Secondly, the standards will be compared as to the similarities and differences while emphasizing the differences in the financial and performance audits. Finally, further expansion of the standards into the area of performance auditing is explored. The results of the study are presented and the author's conclusions are drawn