Sneak Preview: GAO Provides Exceptions to GAGAS CPE Requirements Due to COVID-19
(The following was excerpted from a recent article in the Single Audit Information Service.) The Government Accountability Office (GAO), in response to concerns related to disruptions created by the COVID-19 pandemic, recently issued an alert to its 2018 version of the Government Auditing Standards (GAGAS) that provides auditors more time to complete their continuing professional education (CPE) requirements.
“GAO is keenly aware of the wide-ranging impact of the coronavirus on people’s lives,” said U.S. Comptroller General Gene L. Dodaro, adding that the flexibilities provided under the alert, which were effective as of Feb. 29, “are intended to help auditors maintain the highest standards in their work, while accommodating the new realities of daily life, whether it’s working from home or caring for family members.” GAO stressed that these flexibilities do not apply to the CPE requirements of other professional organizations or licensing bodies.
Under GAGAS, also known as the Yellow Book, auditors must complete at least 80 hours of CPE every two years. This includes 24 hours in subject matter directly related to the government environment, government auditing or the specific or unique environment in which the auditing entity operates; and 56 hours in subject matter that directly enhances auditors’ professional expertise to conduct engagements. In addition, auditors are required to complete at least 20 of the 80 hours of CPE in each year of the two-year period.
Although GAO’s alert does not remove the GAGAS CPE requirement, it now provides a six-month grace period to obtain CPEs. Specifically, the alert states that for audit firms whose two-year CPE measurement periods end between Feb. 29, 2020, and Dec. 31, 2020 (e.g, one that began June 30, 2018, and ends June 30, 2020), auditors with these firms who have not completed the 80-hour or the 24-hour CPE requirements for the two-year period may have up to six months immediately following the end of the two-year period to make up the deficiency. Any CPE hours completed toward a deficiency in one two-year period must be documented in the CPE records and may not be counted toward the requirements for the next period. Auditors who have not satisfied the CPE requirements after the grace period may not participate in GAGAS engagements until those requirements are satisfied.
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