What Is a Yellow Book Audit?

April 1, 2024

What Is a Yellow Book Audit? 


In the following guide, learn what a Yellow Book audit is and why it matters for your childcare organization. This introduction to Yellow Book audits is the first article in our audit series on the Honest Buck blog. In this series, you will learn what a Yellow Book audit involves, how to prepare for and respond to a Yellow Book audit, as well as best practices for Yellow Book audits, whether you are a nonprofit organization, educational institution, or local, state, or federal government entity. Let’s get started. 

Yellow Book Audit, Defined

The Yellow Book, formally known as the Generally Accepted Government Auditing Standards (GAGAS), is the given name for the government auditing standards set forth by the Comptroller General of the U.S. Government Accountability Office for auditors of government entities and entities that receive government awards. 

The Yellow Book outlines the requirements for audit reports, professional qualifications for auditors, and audit organization quality management. 

Audit outcome standards contained in the Yellow Book manual include:

  • Independence of the Auditor
  • Due Care in Carrying Out the Audit
  • Requirements for Continued Professional Education (CPE) for Auditors
  • Supervision of Auditors
  • Quality Control Standards

The Yellow Book outlines the standards for three types of audits: 

  • Performance audits can be used to maximize overall performance across an organization, increase efficiency, improve decision-making, and reduce costs.
  • Financial audits provide an objective evaluation of whether an organization’s reported financial information is presented with honesty and adherence to accepted standards. 
  • Attestation engagements evaluate assertions made by leadership or management within an organization. 

If your childcare organization operates as a nonprofit or educational institution receiving government funding, grants, or awards, or as a local, state, or federal government entity, then you are subject to a Yellow Book audit.

The 2018 revision of the Yellow Book is the most up-to-date version, and you can download a copy of the 2018 Yellow Book here

Let’s take a look at why Yellow Book audits are important for your childcare organization. 

Why Are Yellow Book Audits Important  

Here are several reasons why a Yellow Book audit is significant for your childcare entity:

  • Compliance – On a basic level, compliance with Yellow Book audit standards is often a requirement for childcare organizations running local, state, or federal government programs or who receive government funding of any kind. 
  • Public Accountability – A Yellow Book audit also serves as a means to ensure taxpayer-supported childcare programs are audited to standards that mandate financial integrity for the public interest. 
  • Uniformity – When childcare programs across multiple jurisdictions are involved, or when both private and public childcare entities jointly participate in government programs, Yellow Book audits provide a uniform set of guidelines for auditors who examine these organizations. 
  • Increased Credibility – Finally, undergoing a Yellow Book audit can enhance an organization’s credibility, as doing so indicates it has been audited by means of the most rigorous, government-approved standards. 

Ultimately, the Yellow Book provides guidance for auditors working in the government sector to ensure that audits are conducted to the highest standards of efficiency, effectiveness, and professional integrity. 

In the next article in our audit series, we give an overview of what you can expect during a Yellow Book audit and how to prepare for one, plus we include a detailed checklist you can use to prepare for your upcoming Yellow Book audit. 

The accounting experts at Honest Buck can walk you through the Yellow Book audit process, step-by-step. Reach out to us to speak with one of our CPAs today. 

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