WHAT IS PEER REVIEW?
Peer Review is a periodic outside review, performed by another accounting firm, of a firm's quality control system in accounting and/or auditing. Peer reviews maintain and improve the quality of the accounting and auditing services performed by firms.
The American Institute of CPAs (AICPA) established the Peer Review Program(PRP) nearly 20 years ago to enhance the quality of accounting, auditing and attestation services performed by AICPA members in public practice. The PRP illustrates the accounting profession’s dedication to integrity and protection of the public and is driven by adherence to the highest possible professional standards. The PRP is well-respected by practitioners, state boards of accountancy and other users of the peer review process who recognize the program as an effective quality improvement tool.
Peer Review provides a mechanism for a firm to engage a peer firm to review its system of quality control related to its application of professional accounting, auditing and attestation standards. This process strengthens a firm's quality control and encourages firms to improve processes and to correct any flaws in their system.
Who is Involved in Peer Review?
AICPA Peer Review Board (PRB)
The PRB is the senior technical committee governing the AICPA PRP and is responsible for overseeing the entire peer review process. The PRB is comprised of 20 members consisting of public practitioners, state society executive directors, and regulators. The mission of the PRB is to establish and conduct a peer review program, including developing, communicating, and monitoring comprehensive performance and reporting of peer reviews performed under the Standards for Performing and Reporting on Peer Reviews (Standards). The PRB’s goal is to enhance the quality of accounting, auditing, and attestation services provided by AICPA members and their firms enrolled in the AICPA PRP. The PRB also reevaluates the validity and objectives of the AICPA PRP to ensure it continues to enhance the quality of accounting and auditing practices of public accounting firms and to explicitly recognize that protecting the public interest is an important objective of the AICPA PRP.
The AICPA Peer Review Program is administered in cooperation with the state CPA societies and other administering entities. When a CPA firm is enrolled in the AICPA Peer Review Program, its peer review will be processed by the administering entity in the state in which the CPA firm’s main office is located or, if that state CPA society has elected not to participate, by another administering entity. The AICPA Peer Review Board approves all administering entities annually. Peer reviews are administered and accepted in accordance with the Standards and other guidance adopted by the Board.
Peer Review Committees
The Peer Review Committee is an authoritative body established by an administering entity to oversee the peer reviews performed in that state or in other states it has agreed to administer. It establishes procedures for ensuring that peer reviews are performed in accordance with professional Standards and related guidance materials. It also establishes procedures to ensure consistent application of the Standards and guidance related to overdue reviews, follow-up actions, handling reviewer performance issues and disagreements. The Committee is responsible for ensuring that reviews are presented to a report acceptance body in a timely manner and for evaluating whether peer reviews have been performed in accordance with Standards and related guidance.
Report Acceptance Body (RAB)
An RAB is a committee or committees appointed by an administering entity to review the results of peer reviews to ensure compliance with the requirements of the AICPA Peer Review Program. RABs monitor the timely submission of reviews;consider whether reviews have been performed in accordance with the standards, interpretations, and whether the report and the response thereto, if applicable, are in accordance with the standards, interpretations, and related guidance materials, including an evaluation of the adequacy of the corrective actions the reviewed firm has represented that it has taken or will take in its letter of response, if any.
The technical reviewer ensures that the workpapers clearly document the scope and results of the peer review. It is their mission to affirm that the conclusions and findings of the review are consistent and confirm it meets applicable standards. The technical reviewer’s work may include comments to the RAB to assist them in properly evaluating the review, but they do not participate in any part of the acceptance process.
Peer reviewers conduct system and engagement reviews for firms. They are active AICPA members in good standing, licensed to practice as certified public accountants, who have met certain knowledge, experience and training requirements. There are two types of peer reviewers – team captains and review captains. Team captains are those who are qualified to perform all types of peer reviews. Review captains are those who are qualified to perform engagement reviews and may also assist team captains in various aspects of the system review. In certain situations, it is also possible for a professional to be involved in peer review as a team member without the specialized training requirement, where they only review specific areas of quality control or engagements on a system review.