An attestation engagement is an assurance engagement in which a practitioner, usually a Certified Public Accountant (CPA), examines, reviews, or applies agreed-upon procedures to a subject matter or an assertion about a subject matter. The practitioner then provides a written report expressing a conclusion or findings about the subject matter’s reliability, accuracy, or compliance with specified criteria. Attestation engagements are performed in accordance with professional standards established by the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants (AICPA) or other relevant regulatory bodies.
Attestation engagements can cover a wide range of subject matters, such as:
- Financial statement audits: An independent examination of an organization’s financial statements to provide an opinion on their fairness and compliance with generally accepted accounting principles (GAAP) or other applicable financial reporting frameworks.
- Reviews of financial statements: A review engagement provides a lower level of assurance than an audit. It involves analytical procedures and inquiries to obtain limited assurance about whether any material modifications should be made to the financial statements for them to conform to the applicable financial reporting framework.
- Agreed-upon procedures: In this engagement, a practitioner performs specific procedures agreed upon by the client and other relevant parties. The practitioner then reports the findings without providing an opinion or conclusion on the subject matter.
- Compliance attestation: A practitioner examines an entity’s compliance with specific laws, regulations, contracts, or grant agreements and provides a report on the results.
- Reporting on internal controls: A practitioner evaluates and reports on the effectiveness of an organization’s internal controls over financial reporting or specific business processes.
- Reporting on sustainability measures or non-financial information: A practitioner evaluates and provides assurance on non-financial information, such as environmental, social, and governance (ESG) metrics, sustainability reports, or corporate social responsibility (CSR) disclosures.
Attestation engagements help enhance the credibility and reliability of the subject matter or assertion, providing users with greater confidence in the information presented.