Yellow Book CPE relief due to COVID-19

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The US Government Accountability Office (GAO) is providing certain continuing professional education (CPE) requirement exceptions for auditors who perform engagements under generally accepted government auditing standards (GAGAS), commonly referred to as Yellow Book. 

Yellow Book auditors are normally required to complete at least 80 hours of CPE every two years. Further details include the following:

  • 24 of those Yellow Book CPE hours must relate to a subject matter directly related to the government environment, government auditing, or the specific or unique environment in which the audited entity operates.
  • The remaining 56 hours must relate to subject matter that directly enhances an ability to conduct audit or attestation engagements.
  • At least 20 of the Yellow Book CPE hours must be completed each year in a two-year reporting period.

Effective February 29, 2020, the GAO released an alert that recognized the challenges for accountants to complete the Yellow Book CPE requirements due to the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic.

First, if an auditor is working or teleworking, auditors may not use the CPE exemption provided in Paragraph 4.29 that covers military service, maternity leave, illness, and other matters. However, other relief is being provided. 

For two-year reporting periods that end February 29 through December 31, 2020, auditors who have not yet completed the 24-hour or 80-hour GAO Yellow Book requirements may have a six-month grace period to make up for the deficiency.  However, any hours completed during that grace period towards the deficiency may not be double-counted towards the next two-year reporting period.

In addition, auditors are not required to complete at least 20 hours of CPE for any one-year period that ends February 29 through December 31, 2020.

Finally, for any two-year period in effect at February 29, 2020, auditors may carry over up to 40 hours of Yellow Book CPE in excess of meeting the 80-hour requirement to the next CPE reporting period. However, auditors may not count those hours towards the next reporting period’s 24-hour requirement. Also, for two-year periods ending on or after December 31, 2020, only hours earned through December 31, 2020, may be carried over to the next reporting cycle. 

The Yellow Book audit content contained in this article is for information purposes only and not tax advice.  You should consult your own tax advisor for tax advice that applies to your particular situation.

Jennifer Louis has more than 25 years of experience in designing high-quality training programs in a variety of technical and soft skills topics necessary for professional and organizational success. In 2003, she founded Emergent Solutions Group, LLC, where she focuses on designing and delivering practical and engaging accounting and auditing training. Jennifer started her career in audit for Deloitte & Touche. She graduated summa cum laude from Marymount University with a BBA in accounting.

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