The Society administers the AICPA Peer Review program, where member firms are reviewed by other firms, generally on an every-third-year basis. For more information, please call Mandy Harlow at 701- 775-7100. Confidential report review is also available for members as a no-cost, no-risk professional improvement opportunity.
It is a new process that the American Institute of CPAs (AICPA) has created to help the profession keep up with the evolving changes in the business and regulatory environments and to address the demand for greater peer review transparency.
The goal of this process is to create a nationally uniform system through which CPA firms can satisfy state board peer review information submission requirements, increase transparency, and retain control over their peer review results. Perhaps eventually this process will be the primary means by which all State Boards of Accountancy (BOAs) obtain peer review results. However, until further notice, this new process WILL NOT replace the current peer review information submission requirements of the North Dakota State Board of Accountancy, which licenses firms practicing in North Dakota. At present, firms are to submit documents only when requested by the Board.
This process, called Facilitated State Board Access, uses the existing peer review process to facilitate the voluntary disclosure of peer review results to BOAs. To accommodate this new process, the AICPA has made some alterations to your peer review acceptance process. Firms to which the process will be applicable will receive a notice of these changes once the process begins for North Dakota firms.
After carefully evaluating the various options, stakeholders determined that the best way to address the user demands for greater peer review transparency, while considering member and state CPA society concerns, was to use the existing peer review process to facilitate the voluntary disclosure of peer review results to BOAs. The intent of this new process is to create a nationally uniform system through which CPA firms can satisfy state board peer review information submission requirements, increase transparency, and retain control over their peer review results. The AICPA and state CPA societies are working together to allow this process to become the primary means by which all BOAs obtain peer review results. Over time, this new process will help to make submission of your firm’s peer review information easier.
FSBA uses an opt-out process that allows peer review results to be made available to select BOAs on a voluntary firm basis, using a secure, BOA access-only web site available only to authorized state board representatives. Beginning with reviews accepted on or after the June 2009 RAB meeting, firms with their main office located in North Dakota will receive an additional notice and instructions along with their firm’s next peer review acceptance letter that notifies them of the Administering Entity’s (AE) intent to post their peer review information. For firms whose main office is located in North Dakota, their peer review administering entity is the North Dakota Society of CPAs. Firms that are not members of the AICPA Employee Benefit Plan Audit Quality Center, Governmental Audit Quality Center or Private Companies Practice Section will be given the opportunity to opt out of the process. Below are the details of how this process will work.
Making peer review results available to select BOAs on a voluntary firm basis, using a secure, BOA access-only web site that will be available only to authorized state board representatives. The North Dakota Society of CPAs will post applicable peer review information related to a firm’s most recently accepted review to this secure BOA web site unless the firm requests that its information be excluded. The firm will be notified by the North Dakota Society of CPAs, via a notice included with the firm’s peer review acceptance letter of its intention to post the firm’s peer review results and the firm will have 30 days to opt out of the process. Once the North Dakota Society of CPAs posts the information, the firm’smanaging partner and peer review contact will receive a confirmation via email (or regular mail if email is not available) informing them that the results have been posted to the site and a reminder that the firm has 30 days from the date of the acceptance letter to opt-out of the process. The email also provides the partner and peer review contact the opportunity to make the firm’s results available to additional select BOAs.
After 30 days, if the firm does not opt out, the firm’s peer review results will be available to authorized BOA representatives via a secure BOA web site. It is anticipated that this option will be beneficial, over time, to firms with multi-state practices.
Firms can request that their results be made available to more than one BOA, so long as the BOAs require peer review and are not prohibited from obtaining access to peer review information.
Firms will be provided with the opportunity to select additional BOAs for expanded access. However, access will not be granted until the selected state or states are participating in FSBA.
Firms will be notified by the North Dakota Society of CPAs when the BOA(s) that they have selected to expand access to are participating in FSBA. This will remind firms of their selection and provide them with the opportunity to change their decision regarding expanded access.
The number of documents posted to the secure BOA web site for a firm varies based upon the results of the peer review. A firm will not choose which documents will be posted as each of those that are applicable (based on the results of the review) will be posted. It is important to note that unless a firm opts out, all applicable documents will be posted even if it is not a state requirement.
The following documents will be posted to the secure BOA web site, as applicable:
Peer review report
Letter of comments
Letter of response
Letter(s) signed by the reviewed firm indicating that the peer review documents have been accepted with the understanding that the reviewed firm agrees to take certain actions
Letter notifying the reviewed firm or individual that certain required actions have been completed
Firms that are not members of the AICPA Employee Benefit Plan Audit Quality Center, Governmental Audit Quality Center or Private Companies Practice Section will have the opportunity to opt out at any time even after their information has been posted by notifying the North Dakota Society of CPAs in writing. Once the notification is received, the North Dakota Society of CPAs will remove the posted information. If a firm chooses to opt out, it is important to note that certain information (which is currently publicly available) will be posted to the secure BOA web site. This information will help us to maintain a complete database of all firms in the peer review program. The information that will remain posted should a firm opt out is as follows:
Contact Mandy Harlow, firstname.lastname@example.org or 701-775-7100. Additional information is also available at the AICPA website at http://www.aicpa.org/InterestAreas/PeerReview/Pages/PeerReviewHome.aspx.