That Standard Doesn't Apply to Me! | AccountingWEB

That Standard Doesn't Apply to Me!

It is my habit to send my course materials to all of my clients a few weeks in advance so they have time to make copies for the participants. Usually clients look over them and don’t say anything about what they see. This year, one of my clients took the time to read the materials and send an email asking me to take out any references to the AICPA. She reminded me that her shop is subject to the Yellow Book and that her team conducts performance audits in state government.

I refused to take the references to the AICPA out because what the AICPA does is relevant to her shop.  Why?  Four main, interrelated reasons: 

1. All audit standards are simplyan accumulation of best practices that a committee or group has decided to adopt as standardized behavior or rules.

I saw an original version of the GAO’s Yellow Book late last year (I think it was originally published in the 70s). And man, was it thin! It was poorly written and horribly vague–much like my early writings (I certainly hope no one is hanging on to those!)

When I first started working with the Yellow Book in the late 80s, it was a brilliant tome compared with the AICPA auditing standards. As of 2013, however, the AICPA has surpassed the Yellow Book in many key areas, including fraud and risk assessment.

So our standards are constantly evolving because the brainiac-muckity-mucks who sit on the standard setting committees contribute new ideas to make things better every time the standards are revised.

2. The standard setters all influence each other.

As you can imagine, the standard setters are all watching each other to see who has their act together regarding a certain topic. So when one moves, the others move too.

The relationship between the AICPA and the GAO is especially tight. They actually meet with each other to sync up their standards on a regular basis.

The GAO has to match the concepts of the AICPA because they require the use of AICPA standards on financial audits. And, to keep internal consistency between chapters in the Yellow Book, the GAO uses the same principles for financial audits (which are often copied straight from the AICPA) in the performance audit standards. So whether performance auditors like it or not, the AICPA influences their work.

3. An audit is an audit is an audit.

I have the opportunity to work with all sorts of auditors–auditors in government, CPA firms, corporate internal auditors, you name it–and what I know for sure is that an audit is an audit is an audit. Everyone goes through the same basic process. The audit subject matter will differ and the criteria will differ, but everyone is going down the same paths. It is no use acting like the ‘other guys’ are way different than us. They are not.

4. Audit professionals should seek to find out who has the best guidance and follow that, not simply follow mandatory rules.

Lastly, I think professionals shouldn’t be ‘rule followers’ but seek the best for themselves and their clients. Don’t get frustrated when you deal with people who say things like, “That’s not my job,” “No one makes me do that,” and “I don’t want to do that, so there!”

Imagine going to a doctor and telling her that you have a serious condition. She turns her back to you, types your diagnosis in a computer and then repeats instructions for treatment she found off the Internet. Wouldn’t you rather she use her massive brain to figure out several alternatives for you and then recommend the absolute best treatment and care she is aware of?

Now, I am not equating auditors to doctors, but we are both professionals. And to me, being a professional means that you are aware of more, share more, and seek to learn more. Professionals are always seeking to improve, and they aren’t resistant to innovation.

So, although the AICPA isn’t ‘technically’ required for many auditors, I think they are worth keeping an eye on because – either directly or indirectly – the PCAOB, the AICPA, the GAO, and the IIA impact each other and thus impact most auditors in the US.

This blog

Governmental auditors unite! Leita Hart-Fanta, CPA, CGFM, and CGAP is the author of “The Yellow Book Interpreted” and owner of a website devoted to training for governmental auditors. Whether you are an internal auditor or monitor for a government entity or a CPA doing grant audits, you will enjoy Leita’s humorous take on the complexity of auditing in the government environment.

More from this blog

Bloggers crew

Steve Knowles has spent 25 years in business and practice in the UK, but he also worked in the states and the years haven't dulled his way of seeing an alternative view to everyone else, and every day is a new adventure.


Joel M. Ungar, CPA is a lifelong resident of the Detroit area and a graduate of The University of Michigan. He is a principal with Silberstein Ungar, PLLC, a Top 15 auditor of SEC public reporting companies.


Allan Boress, CPA, with over 25 years as a practitioner and consultant to the accounting profession. Mr. Boress is the author of 12 published books in 6 different languages, including a best-seller, The "I-Hate-Selling" Book.


Larry Perry, CPA, CPA Firm Support Services, LLC, is the author of accounting and auditing manuals, author and presenter of live staff training seminars, and author of webcast and self-study CPE programs. He blogs about small audits, reviews, and compilations.

Sandra Wiley, COO and Shareholder, is ranked by Accounting Today as one of the 100 Most Influential People in Accounting as a result of her prominent role as an industry expert on HR and training as well as influence as a management and planning consultant. She is also a founding member of The CPA Consultant's Alliance. Sandra is a certified Kolbe™ trainer who advises firms on building balanced teams, managing employee conflict and hiring staff.

Maria Calabrese, CIR, Human Resources manager for Fazio, Mannuzza, Roche, Tankel, LaPilusa, LLC in Cranford, New Jersey, Maria's topics revolve around the world of: Mentoring, Performance management, and The "Y Generation," a.k.a. "The whY generation".


William Brighenti is a CPA, Certified QuickBooks ProAdvisor, and Certified [Business] Valuation Analyst, operating an accounting, tax, and QuickBooks consulting firm in Hartford, Connecticut, Accountants CPA Hartford.


Ken Garen, CPA, is the co-founder and President of Universal Business Computing Company (, a software development firm of high-volume, high-productivity accounting and payroll technology.


Eva Rosenberg, MBA, EA, is the publisher of, and author of the weekly syndicated Ask TaxMama column. She provides answers to tax questions from taxpayers and tax professionals worldwide.


Amy Vetter, CPA, CITP is the CPA Programs Leader for Intacct Corporation responsible for leading the CPA/BPO Partners nationally.

Brian Strahle is the owner of LEVERAGE SALT, LLC where he provides state and local tax technical services to accounting firms, law firms and tax research organizations across the United States. He also writes a weekly column in Tax Analysts State tax Notes entitled, "The SALT Effect." For more info, visit his website:
Scott H. Cytron, ABC, is president of Cytron and Company, known for helping companies and organizations improve their bottom line through a hybrid of strategic public relations, communications, marketing programs and top-notch client service. An accredited consultant, Scott works with companies, organizations and individuals in professional services (accounting, finance, medical, legal, engineering), high-tech and B2B/B2C product/service sales.

Rita Keller is a nationally known CPA firm management consultant, speaker, author, mentor and blogger. She has over 30 years hands-on experience in CPA firm management, marketing, technology and administrative operations.

Stacy Kildal is the mom of two fantastic kids, an Advanced Certified QuickBooks ProAdvisor, Certified Enterprise Solutions ProAdvisor, Sleeter Group Certified Consultant, a nationally recognized member of the Intuit Trainer and Writer Network, and co-host of RadioFree QuickBooks.
Michael Alter's blog specializes in providing practical advice to those who seek greater profitability and practice management tactics that enhance deeper client relationships.

Sally Glick, CMO, Principal, Marketer of the Year in 2003 and AAM Hall of Famer in 2007, leads a lively discussion of the constantly expanding roles of marketing and the professional marketers that drive this initiative in accounting firms of all sizes.


The IMA Young Professionals Blog features the insights of IMA’s Young Professionals Committee. Committee members share advice and experiences on careers, continuing education, work/life balance, and other issues affecting young accounting and finance professionals.


FEI Financial Reporting Blog provides highlights from SEC, PCAOB, FASB, IASB, and other regulatory news, including reporting under Sarbanes-Oxley Sect 404. It is written by Edith Orenstein, Director of Technical Policy Analysis at FEI.


Sue Anderson has 30 years of experience in continuing education for accountants. Currently she is the program director for online CPE provider CPE Link.


Jim Fahey is COO of Apple Growth Partners, a regional CPA firm in Ohio. His focus is on the effective and efficient use of technology within the firm by all team members.

Caleb Newquist is the Editor-in-Chief of Sift Media US, overseeing content for both AccountingWEB and Going Concern.

Leita Hart-Fanta, CPA, CGFM, and CGAP is the author of "The Yellow Book Interpreted" and owner of a website devoted to training for governmental auditors.


AccountingWEB is more than just a U.S. team of journalists and financial and technology experts - we have an international side, too! Members of our British team who publish share their ideas, insights, and perspectives from across the pond.