AICPA Issues SSAE 21 on Direct Examination Engagements

The AICPA’s Auditing Standards Board (ASB) has issued Statement on Standards for Attestation Engagements (SSAE) No. 21, Direct Examination Engagements.

SSAE 21 adds new AT-C Section 206, Direct Examination Engagements. SSAE 21 also supersedes AT-C Section 205, Examination Engagements, and changes the title to Assertion-Based Examination Engagements. It also amends SSAE No. 18, Attestation Standards: Clarification and Recodification, as Amended, and AT-C Section 105, Concepts Common to All Attestation Engagements (AICPA, Professional Standards, AT-C sec. 105).

Direct Examination Engagements

New AT-C Section 206 contains performance and reporting requirements and application guidance for direct examination engagements. As noted in the accompanying At a Glance document, AT-C Section 206 “enables practitioners to perform an examination engagement in which the practitioner obtains reasonable assurance by measuring or evaluating underlying subject matter against criteria and expressing an opinion that conveys the results of that measurement or evaluation.”

The practitioners’ objectives in conducting a direct examination agreement include:

  • Obtaining reasonable assurance by measuring or evaluating the underlying subject matter against the criteria and performing other procedures to obtain sufficient appropriate evidence;
  • Expressing an opinion in a written report that conveys the results of the measurement or evaluation; and
  • Communicating in accordance with the results of the practitioner’s procedures as required by AT-C Section 206.

Assertion-Based Examination Engagements

New AT-C Section 205 provides performance and reporting requirements and application guidance for assertion-based examination engagements. The requirements and guidance supplement the requirements and guidance in Section 105.

The practitioners’ objectives in an assertion-based examination agreement include:

  • Obtaining reasonable assurance about whether the subject matter as measured or evaluated against the criteria is free from material misstatement;
  • Expressing an opinion in a written report about whether the subject matter is based on or in accordance with the criteria, or the responsible party’s assertion is fairly stated, in all material requests; and
  • Communicating further as required by relevant AT-C Sections.

Effective Date

SSAE 21 is effective for practitioners’ reports dated on or after June 15, 2022.

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