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attestation engagements

services related to internal control, compliance, MD&A presentation, allowability and reasonableness of proposed contract amounts, final contract costs, and reliability of performance measures

audit findings

items identified by the auditors in the course of the audit, such as internal control weaknesses, instances of noncompliance, questioned costs, fraud, and material misrepresentations (by the auditee)

cognizant agency for audit responsibilities

the federal awarding agency that provides the predominant amount of direct funding to a nonfederal entity expending more than $25 million in federal awards, as provided by OMB Circular A-133, unless the OMB designates a different cognizant agency

compliance audit

an audit designed to provide reasonable assurance that a government has complied with applicable laws and regulations. required for every audit performed in conformity with generally accepted governmental auditing standards

engagement letter

written agreement between an auditor and the audited entity that describes the scope of work to be completed, among other things

financial audits

one of the two major types of audits defined by the U.S. Government Accountability Office (see Performance audit for the other major type). A financial audit provides an auditor's opinion that financial statements present fairly an entity's financial position and results of operations in conformity with generally accepted accounting principles or that other financial reports comply with specified finance-related criteria.

generally accepted auditing standards (GAAS)

standards prescribed by the american institute of certified public accountants to provide guidance for planning, conducting, and reporting on audits by certified public accountants.

generally accepted government auditing standards (GAGAS)

see government auditing standards

major programs

all federal programs identified by the auditor through a risk-based process that will be audited as part of a single audit

material weakness

a reportable condition of such magnitude that the internal control structure elements do not reduce the risk of material noncompliance to an acceptably low level


an auditor's judgment as to the level at which the quantitative or qualitative effects of misstatements will have a significant impact on user's evaluations

nonaudit work

work that is solely for the benefit of the entity requesting the work and does not provide for a basis for conclusions, recommendations, or opinions

opinion units

in the GASBS 34 reporting model, these are (1) governmental activities, (2) business-type activities, (3) aggregate discretely presented component units, (4) each major governmental and enterprise fund, and (5) the aggregate remaining fund information

oversight agency

the federal agency that makes the predominant amount of direct funding to the nonfederal entity receiving less that $25 million in federal awards. an oversight agency's responsibilities are similar to those of a cognizant agency but are less extensive

performance audits

one of the two major types of audits defined by the U.S. Government Accountability Office (see financial audit for the other type). A performance audit provides an auditor's independent determination (but not an opinion) of the extent to which government officials are efficiently, economically, and effectively carrying out their responsibilities.

program-specific audit

an audit of one specific federal program as opposed to a single audit of the whole entity

questioned cost

a cost identified by an auditor in an audit finding that generally relates to noncompliance with a law, regulation, or agreement, when the costs are either not supported by adequate documentation or appear unreasonable. OMB cost circulars identify, for different kinds of organizations, which costs are allowable and unallowable

risk-based approach

this approach, used by auditors to determine which programs will be audited as part of the single audit, is a five-step process designed to select federal programs that are relatively large as well as likely to have problems. the auditors can use their professional judgment to classify programs that have been audited recently without audit findings, have had no signifiant changes in personnel or systems, or have a high level of oversight by awarding agencies as "low risk"

significant deficiency

a deficiency in internal control, or combination of deficiencies, that adversely affects the entity's ability to initiate, authorize, record, process, or report data reliably.

single audit

an audit prescribed by federal law for state and local governments and nonprofit organizations that expend federal financial assistance above a specified amount. such an audit is to be conducted in conformity with the office of management and budget circular A-133. such an audit is conducted on an organizationwide basis rather than on the former grant-by-grant basis. the single audit act of 1984, as amended in 1996, and the circular cited impose uniform and rigorous requirements for conducting and reporting on single audits.

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