PCAOB Issues Staff Guidance for Firms Filing the New Form AP, Disclosing Engagement Partner Names and Other Firms Participating in Public Company Audits

The Public Company Accounting Oversight Board today issued staff guidance for firms filing the new Form AP, disclosing the names of engagement partners and other firms participating in public company audits.

The PCAOB also launched a web resource page on Form AP for investors, auditors, and others interested in the information.

"Form AP will provide transparency to investors about the engagement partner and other accounting firms that took part in the audit," said Martin F. Baumann, PCAOB Chief Auditor and Director of Professional Standards. "The guidance issued today will help firms implement the processes required to deliver that information."

In December 2015, the Board adopted new rules and accompanying amendments to auditing standards, creating Form AP, Auditor Reporting of Certain Audit Participants. Firms are required to begin filing Form AP in early 2017.

The PCAOB staff guidance released today covers provisions of the new rules, such as assigning engagement partner identification numbers and estimating audit hours when disclosing the participation of other accounting firms, among other things. Staff may update this guidance as needed.

The new Form AP web page provides additional resources to audit firms preparing to comply with the new rules, such as general instructions for the form and a sample form that can be downloaded for reference.

Firms may submit an individual Form AP using a web form or may submit multiple forms at once using XML. For firms that elect to submit their forms using XML, the page includes the technical instructions and related schema for XML.

"We recognize that setting up these new processes will take firms some time," said Director Baumann. "PCAOB staff is ready to help wherever possible."

PCAOB staff intends to hold conference calls later this year for firms that have questions about the use of technology in submitting Form AP. Firms also will have an opportunity to conduct test runs of Form APs submitted using the web form and XML. More information about the conference calls and testing will be available soon.

Firms are required to file Form AP for public company audit reports issued on or after:

  • January 31, 2017, for engagement partner names
  • June 30, 2017, for other audit firms that participated in the audit

Early next year, investors and others will be able to conduct searches of the Form AP database from the PCAOB website. Users will be able to search by engagement partner name, audit firm, or public company name. Over time, the database can be used to evaluate a number of data points about the engagement partner, including industry experience and number of years as engagement partner of a particular company.

Anyone with questions about Form AP can find PCAOB contact information on the Form AP web page.