AICPA issues new attestation guide amid growing investor interest in sustainability reporting

August 31, 2017

Most large companies are reporting on their corporate, social and environmental performance, along with their financial measures, in response to growing stakeholder interest. With companies seeking to add credibility to their sustainability reports, the Sustainability Task Force of the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants (AICPA) Auditing Standards Board issued a new guide to assist accountants in providing attestation services on sustainability information.

 To increase confidence in sustainability information used for internal decision making or public disclosure, management can engage an independent public accountant to evaluate its reporting and disclosure and whether the related controls are suitably designed and operate effectively to achieve the company’s objectives.

 The AICPA’s new attestation guide, Attestation Engagements on Sustainability Information (Including Greenhouse Gas Emissions Information), is intended to assist accountants with interpreting and applying the attestation standards when performing examination or review engagements on sustainability information.

 The guide contains updated guidance for the recently issued AICPA Statement on Standards for Attestation Engagements No. 18, and on attestation engagements on greenhouse gas emissions information. It provides examples of examination and review procedures in a side-by-side format to help distinguish between procedures. The guide also includes examples of accountants’ reports, which may be useful to management to understand the output from various types of attestation engagements. The new guide considers relevant guidance issued through 1 June 2017.

 The guide also provides information that management can use in its self-assessment of its sustainability information, including assessments of entity-wide sustainability programs. Companies may engage independent accountants to provide an opinion or conclude on whether management’s sustainability information is presented fairly in accordance with market-accepted or other criteria. 

The statement can be downloaded at http://bit.ly/2voBOzQ.