What is Generally Accepted Auditing Standards (GAAS)?

Definition: Generally Accepted Auditing Standards are the rules that govern auditing practices in the United States. The Auditing Standards Board, a part of the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants, creates GAAS to establish auditing practice standards and rules.

What Does GAAS Mean?

The Auditing Standards Board created a framework of auditing standards that was divided into three main sections:

Auditing Standards


General standards consisted of three main standards dealing with professional competence and ethics. The standards of fieldwork consisted of three standards that covered acceptable and expected procedures in the field. Standards of reporting consisted of four standards dealing with financial statements, basis for audit opinion, and the connection of financial accounting with GAAP.

Since the standards of accounting standards were released, the ASB has started a new set of standards that overlap the existing one. The Clarity Project revised many of these standards in 2012 in an attempt to merge generally accepted auditing standards with international standards in auditing.

The Auditing Standards Board introduced its first Statement of Accounting Standards in 1972. Both public and private companies used these standards until the Sarbanes-Oxley Act was passed in 2002. SOX replaced the ASB with the Public Company Oversight Board as the entity to create auditing standards for public companies. Initially, the PCAOB adopted many of the ASB standards. As time went on, the PCAOB modified these rules and eventually wrote their own.

Private company audits still use generally accepted auditing standards for audit rules today