Government Auditing Standards (The Yellow Book)

What's New


New! The Acting Comptroller General has made new appointments to the Advisory Council on Government Auditing Standards (May 2009)

        Government Auditing Standards, July 2007 Revision (GAO-07-731G)

On July 27, 2007, the Comptroller General of the United States issued the 2007 revision of Government Auditing Standards, which supersedes the 2003 revision and updates the January 2007 revision. The July 2007 version contains the January 2007 revision to the standards and updates the quality control and peer review sections in chapter 3.

Notice announcing issuance of the July 2007 revision

Government Auditing Standards, July 2007 Revision  (GAO-07-731G)   Electronic version
 PDF (225 Pages )    HTML     Accessible Text      Contact information

Ordering Information:  The printed version of the July 2007 revision of Government Auditing Standards can be ordered through the Government Printing Office (GPO) online or by calling 202-512-1800 or 1-866-512-1800 toll free.

Summary of Major Changes/Listing of Technical Changes   GAO has issued a listing of major changes in the July 2007 revision of Government Auditing Standards.  This listing highlights key revisions overall and related to (1) ethics and independence, (2) professional judgment and competence, (3) quality control and assurance (5) all types of GAGAS audits and attestation engagements, (5) internal auditors, (6) financial audits, (7) attestation engagements, (8) performance audits, and (9) guidance material.  The listing of changes is intended to assist government audit organizations and practitioners in updating their related policies and procedures for conducting government audits.  GAO has also issued a listing of technical changes made since the January 2007 revision.

Effective Dates  The effective date for the July 2007 revision of Government Auditing Standards is for financial audits and attestation engagements for periods beginning on or after January 1, 2008, and for performance audits beginning on or after January 1, 2008. Early implementation is permissible and encouraged.

Certain standards issued by the AICPA's Auditing Standards Board (ASB) have earlier effective dates.  For financial statement audits performed under GAGAS, the effective dates of those new ASB standards will apply.  Until the July 2007 GAGAS revisions become effective, auditors should adopt the terminology and definitions in SAS No. 112 when reporting on internal control deficiencies and include in their reports material weaknesses and other significant deficiencies in order to promote consistency in communicating and reporting on internal control deficiencies. 

Professional Requirements Tool   The professional requirements tool lists the requirements for audit organizations and auditors included in the July 2007 revision of Government Auditing Standards by specifically identifying in the standards the words "must" and "should."

Notice announcing the issuance of the professional requirements tool

Government Auditing Standards Implementation Tool:  Professional Requirements Tool for Use in Implementing the Requirements Identified by "Must" and "Should" in the July 2007 Revision of Government Auditing Standards  (GAO-08-210G, December 2007) Available only in electronic format.  PDF Fillable Form

Updated Comprehensive Slide Set   GAO has issued an updated comprehensive set of annotated slides to assist the government audit community in developing training on the July 2007 revision of Government Auditing Standards.  In addition to highlighting the major revisions, the slides contain information about the process used to issue the July 2007 Yellow Book, the reasons for the changes, what the changes will mean for government auditors, and effective dates.  The slides should be used in conjunction with the summary of major changes and the complete text of the July 2007 revision.  Electronic versions of these documents can be accessed above. 
July 2007 Full-page slides  Annotated version with speaker's notes (July 2007 revision)

For further information, please call Michael Hrapsky at (202) 512-9535 or e-mail

Related Guidance that Accompanies Government Auditing Standards

Government Auditing Standards:  Guidance on GAGAS Requirements for Continuing Professional Education (GAO-05-568G, April 2005)  This guidance document, which replaces the April 1991 document entitled Interpretation of Continuing Education and Training Requirements, is effective for CPE measurement periods beginning on or after June 30, 2005, with earlier adoption encouraged.   (Note:  This document is only available electronically.)

Government Auditing Standards:  Answers to Independence Standard Questions  (GAO-02-870G, July 2002)

The paragraph references in Government Auditing Standards:  Answers to Independence Standard Questions are based on the January 2002 Government Auditing Standards:  Amendment No. 3 Independence (GAO-02-388G).  In July 2007, GAO issued  Government Auditing Standards:  July 2007 Revision (GAO-07-731G).  This document provides corresponding paragraph references in the 2007 revision. 

Other Related Materials

Interim Guidance on Reporting Deficiencies in Internal Control for GAGAS Financial Audits and Attestation Engagements  (November 2008)

Guidance on Complying with Government Auditing Standards Reporting Requirements for the Report on Internal Control for Audits of Certain Entities Subject to the Requirements of the Sarbanes-Oxley Act of 2002 and Government Auditing Standards  (December 2007)

Professional Standards Updates summarize recently-issued standards of major auditing and accounting standard-setting bodies in order to inform GAO staff and other users of important changes to professional requirements.  These Updates, however do not establish new professional standards and do not reflect GAO official views on these requirements.  Users should refer to the original, authoritative standards for purposes of implementing the standards.

The Comptroller General of the United States has issued temporary exemptions from certain provisions of the 2003 revision of Government Auditing Standards (GAO-03-763G, June 2003) for auditors and audit organizations impacted by Hurricanes Katrina and Rita and has provided additional guidance to auditors to protect the public interest related to government spending of public funds in the relief effort.  (December 15, 2005)

Standards for Internal Control in the Federal Government  (GAO/AIMD-00-21.3.1, November 1999) [Available only in PDF version]

Internal Control Management and Evaluation Tool  (GAO-01-1008G, August 2001)

Assessing the Reliability of Computer-Processed Data (GAO-09-680G July 2009) This publication supersedes GAO-03-273G, Assessing the Reliability of Computer-Processed Data, October 2002. GAO published a guide to assist auditing staff in ensuring the reliability of computer-based data. The guidance provides a flexible, risk-based framework for data reliability assessments that can be geared to the specific circumstances of each engagement. The framework is built on (1) making use of all existing information about the data; (2) performing at least a minimal level of data testing; (3) doing only the amount of work necessary to determine whether the data are reliable enough for GAO's purposes; (4) maximizing professional judgment; and (5) bringing the appropriate people, including management, to the table at key decision points. The guide does not carry the authoritative status of a standard and is intended to provide helpful guidance in designing and implementing audits.  Full Report (PDF, 59 pages)  Accessible Text

Advisory Council on Government Auditing Standards

GAO Advisories Related to Government Auditing Standards

GAO Comment Letters on Recent Exposure Drafts Issued by Other Auditing Standard Setting

Government Auditing Standards -- Previous Revisions

January 2007 Revision   Government Auditing Standards, January 2007 Revision  (GAO-07-162G)   Available in electronic version only

 PDF (211 Pages)   Accessible Text

2003 Revision  Government Auditing Standards, 2003 Revision, GAO-03-673G, June 2003. This revision supersedes the 1994 revision, including Amendments 1 through 3.  The new standards became effective for financial audits and attestation engagements of periods ending on or after January 1, 2004, and for performance audits beginning on or after January 1, 2004.

PDF (202 Pages)     HTML   Accessible Text

The Comptroller General has issued a technical amendment to the CPE requirements contained in the 2003 revision of Government Auditing Standards (April 2005)

Contact information

Last updated 6/16/2009

About Government Auditing Standards

Government Auditing Standards (the "Yellow Book") contains standards for audits of government organizations, programs, activities, and functions, and of government assistance received by contractors, nonprofit organizations, and other nongovernment organizations. These standards, often referred to as generally accepted government auditing standards (GAGAS), are to be followed by auditors and audit organizations when required by law, regulation, agreement, contract, or policy. These standards pertain to auditors' professional qualifications, the quality of audit effort, and the characteristics of professional and meaningful audit reports. 

To help ensure that Government Auditing Standards (the "Yellow Book") continues to meet the needs of the audit community and the public it serves, the Comptroller General of the United States appointed the Advisory Council on Government Auditing Standards to review the standards and recommend necessary changes. The Council includes experts in financial and performance auditing drawn from all levels of government, private enterprise, public accounting, and academia. In February 1997, the Advisory Council on Government Auditing Standards endorsed a revised approach of issuing individual standards issue-by-issue. The approach will continue the practice of exposing all revisions for public comment as the Council reaches consensus on a particular issue. The Council will consider those comments in making recommendations to the Comptroller General of the United States in finalizing revisions to the standards. When the Comptroller General issues a revised standard, the electronic version of Government Auditing Standards will be immediately codified, with a periodic codification of the standards into the printed book format. This revised approach was adopted in order to provide more timely revision of the standards for emerging audit issues. 

Contact Information

For technical or practice questions regarding Government Auditing Standards call:

Michael C. Hrapsky
Manager, GAGAS Technical Assistance
U.S. Government Accountability Office
(202) 512-9535

For technical or practice questions directly related to Government Auditing Standards, our e-mail address is: