From time to time, the VSCPA Peer Review Program receives formal requests for a “change of venue” so to speak for conducting a peer review. These requests often accommodate a firm operating in a “virtual” environment or from a sole practitioner’s home. The VSCPA Peer Review Committee considers these requests on a case-by-case basis, following the Standards, Interpretations and other guidance contained in the Peer Review Manual (PRM).
Paragraph .08 of the Peer Review Standards states that reviewers should perform the majority of procedures in a System Review at the reviewed firm’s office. PRM Section 2000, Interpretation 8-1 provides criteria established by the Peer Review Board for exceptions to the standard and the means by which an exception may be requested.
In general, an exception should be a situation that makes an on-site peer review cost prohibitive or extremely difficult to arrange, or both. In these situations, the firm and reviewer should agree on an approach that does not compromise the effectiveness of the review. The reviewer should submit a request to perform the review at a specified location other than the reviewed firm’s office, prior to the commencement of fieldwork. The peer review committee considers various factors in making a decision. These factors emphasize the risk, potential effectiveness and perceived quality of the review, but not necessarily the convenience of the firm or the reviewer.
For more detailed information on the criteria and examples of permissible exceptions, please see Interpretation 8-1 and other guidance in Section 3100, Supplemental Guidance of the Peer Review Manual, or call the VSCPA with any questions.