Review Process

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Peer Review Scheduling

As part of the AICPA's transition to the new Peer Review Integrated Management Application (PRIMA), firms that need to schedule their peer review will log into PRIMA at prima.aicpa.org
Unsure where to begin? Check out Getting Started in PRIMA
The Peer Review Integrated Management Application (PRIMA) is the primary tool used by firms, reviewers, and the entities administering peer review to complete the peer review process. PRIMA is accessible to all AICPA and CPA.com customers whose records are linked to a public accounting firm in the AICPA records. If your firm has undergone a peer review before with the same administering entity (AE) (typically a state society), your firm is probably set up in PRIMA already.

Selecting a Review Team

One of the most important decisions you will make will be to choose the review team that will best accommodate your firm's needs. When making the review team selection, certain issues should be taken into consideration.
The type and size of the firm you choose should be similar to your practice unit in order to provide you with an effective and efficient review.  Also, you may wish to check other qualifications of the reviewing firm (e.g., how many years of auditing and accounting experience, and how much review experience they have).
After choosing a qualified firm, you will need to discuss fees. Actual reviewer time and fees may differ. The time required to perform a review depends on the number of accounting and auditing hours of the firm, the number of professionals, and the firm's degree of compliance with its quality control procedures.
When engaging a reviewer to conduct a review, please note that your chosen reviewer(s) must have current knowledge in the areas and industries in which your firm practices (as selected by you on the PRI in PRIMA) in order to qualify to perform your firm’s review. 
The AICPA maintains a nationwide online reviewer search that you can access here. 
Reviewer Search
For FAQ and more information, see AICPA.org/PRIMA.

Review Types

There are two types of peer reviews:

System Review

The objectives of a System Review are to provide the reviewer with a reasonable basis for expressing an opinion on whether, during the year under review:

  1. The reviewed firm's system of quality control for its accounting and auditing practice has been designed in accordance with quality control standards established by the AICPA (see SQCS No. 7).
  2. The reviewed firm's quality control policies and procedures were being complied with to provide the firm with reasonable assurance of performing and reporting in conformity with applicable professional standards in all material respects.

A System Review is designed to test a reasonable cross section of the firm's engagements with a focus on high-risk engagements, in addition to significant risk areas where the possibility exists of engagements not being performed and/or reported on in conformity with applicable professional standards in all material respects. The majority of the procedures in a System Review should be performed at the reviewed firm's office. On System Reviews, the reviewed firm is expected to take appropriate actions in response to any findings, deficiencies, and significant deficiencies identified with their system of quality control or their compliance with the system, or both.

Engagement Review

The objective of an Engagement Review is to evaluate whether engagements submitted for review are performed and reported on in conformity with applicable professional standards in all material respects. An Engagement Review consists of reading the financial statements or information submitted by the reviewed firm and the accountant's report thereon, together with certain background information and representations and, except for compilation engagements performed under SSARS, the applicable documentation required by professional standards.Engagement Reviews are available only to firms that do not perform engagements under the SASs, Government Auditing Standards, examinations of prospective financial statements under the SSAEs, or audits of non-SEC issuers performed pursuant to the standards of the PCAOB. However, firms eligible to have an Engagement Review may elect to have a System Review (see interpretations). Engagement Reviews are normally performed at a location other than the reviewed firm's office. On Engagement Reviews, the reviewed firm is expected to take appropriate actions in response to findings, deficiencies, and significant deficiencies identified in engagements.

For both types of reviews, the program is based on the principle that a systematic monitoring and educational process is the most effective way to attain high quality performance throughout the profession. Thus, it depends on mutual trust and cooperation. All actions will be positive and remedial. Disciplinary actions (including those that can result in the termination of a firm's enrollment in the program and the subsequent loss of membership in the AICPA and some state CPA societies by its partners and employees) will be taken only for a failure to cooperate, failure to correct inadequacies, or when a firm is found to be so seriously deficient in its performance that education and remedial, corrective actions are not adequate.

Review Methods

The methods of reviewer/review team selection available are:

Firm-on-Firm Review
This method allows you to select your own reviewer. Complete Exhibit 1 on the "Information Required for Scheduling Reviews" form, which requests the name of the reviewing firm and reviewer you have selected. Prior to your requested commencement date, the FICPA will confirm whether the review team is qualified to conduct the review. You will be notified in writing once the team has been approved.

Association Review 
You may select this method if your firm is a member of an association. The association must be authorized by the AICPA Peer Review Board to assemble such review teams.

Review Performance

The review covers a one-year period mutually agreed upon by the reviewer and the firm. The firm is expected to keep the same review year as the prior review. If the review year needs to be changed, the change must be approved by the FICPA. Engagements selected for review are those with years ending during the year under review, unless financial statements covering a more recent year have been issued. Ideally, the review period must not end before the end of the previous calendar year. 
In order to comply with the scheduled due date, the review should be scheduled early enough so that all documents are received by the FICPA Peer Review Department prior to the scheduled due date. If you are unable to have your review by the scheduled due date, you may submit a written extension request prior to the review due date. It should indicate the nature of extenuating circumstances necessitating the need for an extension, a tentative exit conference date and an alternative date for completion. Extensions will be granted on a case-by-case basis. Please keep in mind that the AICPA does not consider tax season a reason to grant extensions on peer reviews. If your due date falls during this time, you are encouraged to have the review early.