A Comparative Analysis Of Audit Service Supply Using Desk And Working Paper Reviews

Donald R. Deis Jr., Anna M. Rose

Abstract


The Texas Education Agency (TEA) performs extensive reviews of audit working papers for selected Texas school district audits to evaluate the quality of audit services rendered by independent accountants. These reviews are referred to as Quality Control Reviews (QCRs). The TEA also conducts desk reviews of all audited financial statements issued by Texas independent school districts. During the desk review process, the TEA performs a limited check of the accuracy of financial statement amounts, completeness of financial disclosures, and existence of proper audit output. Prior research suggests that desk reviews and quality control reviews both measure audit quality (Colbert and O’Keefe 1995; Copley et al. 1994; Deis and Giroux 1992, 1996; Giroux et al. 1995; O’Keefe and Westort 1992; O’Keefe et al. 1994). The purpose of the paper is to determine if desk reviews capture the same audit quality information as quality control reviews. If so, regulators should focus resources on desk reviews since they are more timely and economical than QCRs. The results of the study, however, indicate that desk reviews and quality control reviews do not measure the same constructs. The findings suggest that desk reviews measure the industry specific knowledge of the auditor, which is only one aspect of audit quality. Moreover, it was observed that some audits passing the desk review were graded low in quality by the working paper review. This finding suggests that low audit quality may be more prevalent than generally suspected and that steps to improve audit quality and auditor credibility are warranted.


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