The impacts, in my opinion, are the following. Interestingly, the last decade has seen somewhat of a shift in auditing. That’s not to say there has been a decrease in this specialized service, quite to the contrary. The shift has occurred as financial statement auditing has begun to see somewhat of a flat line in growth, while highly specialized audits, such as Statement on Auditing Standards No. 70 (SAS 70) have been given the limelight. Regulatory legislation, such as the Sarbanes-Oxley Act of 2002, the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA), the Gramm-Leach Bliley Act (GLBA), and numerous other federal and state laws have pushed audits, such as SAS 70, into the forefront. Additional audit or examination procedures that are non-financial in nature include the Payment Card Industry (PCI) audits, which are undertaken by entities that process credit card transactions, along with numerous ISO quality audits.
From a regulatory compliance perspective, impacts of audits to the economy have resulted in many service organizations having to become SAS 70 Type II compliant. It all starts with Section 404 of the Sarbanes-Oxley Act of 2002. In simple terms, section 404 states that management must establish effective internal controls as it relates to financial reporting and must also gain assurances from outsourced third-party vendors (i.e., service organizations) whose controls can affect financial reporting. Though it may sound somewhat vague and blurred, it’s really quite straightforward. Take note of the following example to see the effect SAS 70 has on section 404 of publicly traded companies.