Government Auditing Standards (The Yellow Book)
Government Auditing Standards, December 2011 Revision
Government Auditing Standards, December 2011 Revision is now available in electronic PDF format through the link below. A printed version with no change in content from the PDF is now available for purchase through the Government Printing Office and can be found here: http://bookstore.gpo.gov/actions/GetPublication.do?stocknumber=020-000-00291-3
Government Auditing Standards, December 2011 Revision (GAO-12-331G)
Electronic version PDF (241 Pages )
The December 2011 Revision is the final version of the 2011 Government Auditing Standards. It supersedes the 2011 Internet Version. The December 2011 Revision contains limited changes made since the Internet Version was posted. These include: (1) clarification of references to the AICPA Codification of Statements on Auditing Standards; (2) a revision of the list of safeguard examples in paragraph 3.17; and (3) a clarification of and limited change in documentation requirements for procedures related to communication of certain internal control deficiencies, fraud, abuse, and noncompliance in paragraphs 4.26, 5.23, 5.25, 5.49, 5.59, 7.19, and 7.22.
The effective date for financial audits and attestation engagements is for periods ending on or after December 15, 2012. The effective date for performance audits is for audits beginning on or after December 15, 2011. Early implementation is not permitted.
2011 Internet Version of Government Auditing Standards (August 2011)
Electronic version PDF (219 Pages )
Summary of Major Changes/Listing of Technical Changes GAO has issued the following lists of changes in Government Auditing Standards, December 2011 Revision:
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Government Auditing Standards, July 2007 Revision
Ordering Information: The printed version of the July 2007 revision of Government Auditing Standards can be ordered through the Government Printing Office (GPO) online or by calling 202-512-1800 or 1-866-512-1800 toll free.
Summary of Major Changes/Listing of Technical Changes GAO has issued a listing of major changes in the July 2007 revision of Government Auditing Standards. This listing highlights key revisions overall and related to (1) ethics and independence, (2) professional judgment and competence, (3) quality control and assurance (5) all types of GAGAS audits and attestation engagements, (5) internal auditors, (6) financial audits, (7) attestation engagements, (8) performance audits, and (9) guidance material. The listing of changes is intended to assist government audit organizations and practitioners in updating their related policies and procedures for conducting government audits. GAO has also issued a listing of technical changes made since the January 2007 revision.
Effective Dates The effective date for the July 2007 revision of Government Auditing Standards is for financial audits and attestation engagements for periods beginning on or after January 1, 2008, and for performance audits beginning on or after January 1, 2008. Early implementation is permissible and encouraged.
Certain standards issued by the AICPA's Auditing Standards Board (ASB) have
earlier effective dates. For financial statement audits performed under
GAGAS, the effective dates of those new ASB standards will apply. Until
the July 2007 GAGAS revisions become effective, auditors should adopt the terminology
and definitions in SAS No. 112 when reporting on internal control deficiencies
and include in their reports material weaknesses and other significant deficiencies
in order to promote consistency in communicating and reporting on internal
Professional Requirements Tool
The professional requirements tool lists the requirements for audit organizations
and auditors included in the July 2007 revision of Government Auditing Standards by specifically
identifying in the standards the words "must" and "should."
Updated Comprehensive Slide Set
GAO has issued an updated comprehensive set of annotated slides to assist the
government audit community in developing training on the July 2007 revision of Government Auditing Standards. In
addition to highlighting the major revisions, the slides contain information
about the process used to issue the July 2007 Yellow Book, the reasons for
the changes, what the changes will mean for government auditors, and effective
The slides should be used in conjunction with the summary of major changes
and the complete text of the July 2007 revision.
Electronic versions of these documents can be accessed above.
July 2007 Full-page slides Annotated version with speaker's notes (July 2007 revision)
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Related Guidance that Accompanies Government Auditing Standards
Government Auditing Standards: Guidance on GAGAS Requirements for Continuing Professional Education (GAO-05-568G, April 2005) This guidance document, which replaces the April 1991 document entitled Interpretation of Continuing Education and Training Requirements, is effective for CPE measurement periods beginning on or after June 30, 2005, with earlier adoption encouraged. (Note: This document is only available electronically.)
Government Auditing Standards: Answers to Independence Standard Questions (GAO-02-870G, July 2002)
The paragraph references in Government
Auditing Standards: Answers to Independence Standard Questions are
based on the January 2002 Government Auditing
Standards: Amendment No. 3 Independence (GAO-02-388G).
In July 2007, GAO issued Government Auditing Standards: July 2007
Revision (GAO-07-731G). This document provides corresponding paragraph
references in the 2007 revision. Government Auditing Standards: Answers to Independence Standard Questions does not apply to Government Auditing Standards, December 2011 Revision (GAO-12-331G).
Other Related MaterialsInterim Guidance on Reporting Deficiencies in Internal Control for GAGAS Financial Audits and Attestation Engagements (November 2008)
Guidance on Complying with Government
Auditing Standards Reporting Requirements for the Report on Internal
Control for Audits of Certain Entities Subject to the Requirements of the
Sarbanes-Oxley Act of 2002 and Government
Auditing Standards (December 2007)
Professional Standards Updates summarize recently-issued standards of major auditing and accounting standard-setting bodies in order to inform GAO staff and other users of important changes to professional requirements. These Updates, however do not establish new professional standards and do not reflect GAO official views on these requirements. Users should refer to the original, authoritative standards for purposes of implementing the standards.
The Comptroller General of the United States has issued temporary exemptions from certain provisions of the 2003 revision of Government Auditing Standards (GAO-03-763G, June 2003) for auditors and audit organizations impacted by Hurricanes Katrina and Rita and has provided additional guidance to auditors to protect the public interest related to government spending of public funds in the relief effort. (December 15, 2005)
Standards for Internal Control in the Federal Government (GAO/AIMD-00-21.3.1, November 1999) [Available only in PDF version]
Internal Control Management and Evaluation Tool (GAO-01-1008G, August 2001)
Assessing the Reliability of Computer-Processed Data (GAO-09-680G July 2009) This publication supersedes GAO-03-273G, Assessing the Reliability of Computer-Processed Data, October 2002. GAO published a guide to assist auditing staff in ensuring the reliability of computer-based data. The guidance provides a flexible, risk-based framework for data reliability assessments that can be geared to the specific circumstances of each engagement. The framework is built on (1) making use of all existing information about the data; (2) performing at least a minimal level of data testing; (3) doing only the amount of work necessary to determine whether the data are reliable enough for GAO's purposes; (4) maximizing professional judgment; and (5) bringing the appropriate people, including management, to the table at key decision points. The guide does not carry the authoritative status of a standard and is intended to provide helpful guidance in designing and implementing audits. Full Report (PDF, 59 pages) Accessible Text
Advisory Council on Government Auditing Standards
GAO Advisories Related to Government Auditing Standards
Government Auditing Standards -- Previous Revisions
January 2007 Revision
June 2003 Revision
This revision supersedes the 1994 revision, including Amendments 1 through 3. The new standards became effective for financial audits and attestation engagements of periods ending on or after January 1, 2004, and for performance audits beginning on or after January 1, 2004.
The Comptroller General has issued a technical amendment to the CPE requirements contained in the 2003 revision of Government Auditing Standards (April 2005)
About Government Auditing Standards
Government Auditing Standards (the "Yellow Book") contains standards for audits of government organizations, programs, activities, and functions, and of government assistance received by contractors, nonprofit organizations, and other nongovernment organizations. These standards, often referred to as generally accepted government auditing standards (GAGAS), are to be followed by auditors and audit organizations when required by law, regulation, agreement, contract, or policy. These standards pertain to auditors' professional qualifications, the quality of audit effort, and the characteristics of professional and meaningful audit reports.
To help ensure that Government Auditing Standards (the "Yellow Book") continues to meet the needs of the audit community and the public it serves, the Comptroller General of the United States appointed the Advisory Council on Government Auditing Standards to review the standards and recommend necessary changes. The Council includes experts in financial and performance auditing drawn from all levels of government, private enterprise, public accounting, and academia. In February 1997, the Advisory Council on Government Auditing Standards endorsed a revised approach of issuing individual standards issue-by-issue. The approach will continue the practice of exposing all revisions for public comment as the Council reaches consensus on a particular issue. The Council will consider those comments in making recommendations to the Comptroller General of the United States in finalizing revisions to the standards. When the Comptroller General issues a revised standard, the electronic version of Government Auditing Standards will be immediately codified, with a periodic codification of the standards into the printed book format. This revised approach was adopted in order to provide more timely revision of the standards for emerging audit issues.
Contact InformationFor technical or practice questions regarding Government Auditing Standards, please call (202) 512-9535 or e‑mail email@example.com.
Last updated January 20, 2012