The Government Accountability Office has issued extensive new guidance for auditors and audit organizations in implementing revised continuing professional education requirements for those conducting so-called "Yellow Book" audits.

The CPE requirements, which were prescribed in a 2003 revision of government auditing standards, apply to external auditors and internal auditors, both governmental and non-governmental, who perform audits or attestation engagements conducted in accordance with generally accepted government auditing standards.

The fundamental difference related to CPE in the 2003 standards from the 1994 revision is that the 80 hours of CPE to be completed every two years should "directly enhance the auditor's professional proficiency to perform audits and/or attestation engagements." The 1994 revision called for training that "contributes to the auditor's professional proficiency."

The guidance also expands and modernizes the types of programs and the list of subjects and topics, including taxation, that would and would not satisfy CPE requirements.

The GAO also issued a technical amendment to Paragraph 3.45 and related footnotes of the CPE requirements contained in the competence standard of the 2003 revision of GAGAS. Specifically, as amended, auditors who are only involved in performing field work but not involved in planning, directing or reporting on the audit or attestation engagement and who charge less than 20 percent annually of their time to audits and attestation engagements conducted under GAGAS are required to take 24 hours of training in each two-year period in subjects and topics directly related to government auditing, the government environment or the specific or unique environment in which the audited entity operates, but do not have to comply with the remainder of the 80-hour CPE requirement.

The guidance document and the technical amendment, available at www.gao.gov/new.items/d05568g.pdf, are effective for CPE measurement periods beginning on or after June 30, 2005. Early application is encouraged.

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