The Public Company Accounting Oversight Board (PCAOB) adopted two new standards that address key audit areas upon which it was relying on benchmarks established more than 20 years ago.

The regulator announced its new general responsibilities for auditors and quality control (QC) standard in separate press releases Monday. The significant changes represent the PCAOB’s view on fundamental areas of audit responsibility and replace standards it either did not establish or had been relying on on an interim basis.

Regarding general responsibilities of the auditor (AS 1000), PCAOB Chair Erica Williams said in a statement the release “solidifies the foundation of every audit, leading to investor protection and informative, accurate, and independent audit reports.”

The standard addresses topics including reasonable assurance, due professional care, professional skepticism, independence, competence, and professional judgment in a manner meant to clarify responsibilities and make them easier to understand and apply. It also includes a change—from 45 days to 14 days—to timing for an auditor to assemble audit documentation, in an effort to reduce instances of improper alterations.

The standard will replace interim guidelines the PCAOB has been relying on since 2003. It takes effect for audits of financial statements for fiscal years beginning on or after Dec. 15, 2024, subject to Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) approval. The changes to documentation completion deadlines would take effect for fiscal-year audits beginning on or after Dec. 15, 2025.

The PCAOB’s old QC standard might also have been viewed as outdated, considering it was developed by the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants before the PCAOB was even established in 2002.

The new standard (QC 1000) “requires all registered firms to identify their specific risks and design a QC system that includes policies and procedures to guard against those risks,” said Williams in a statement. “It strikes a balance by introducing a risk-based approach that can be applied by firms of varying sizes and complexity while also imposing requirements to ensure each QC system is designed, implemented, and operated with an appropriate level of rigor.”

Firms will be required to take remedial actions where policies and procedures are not operating effectively and to annually evaluate and report to the PCAOB on their certified QC systems. Firms that audit more than 100 issuers annually must also establish an external oversight function for their QC system to conduct independent evaluations.

“Simply designing elaborate processes on paper won’t be enough,” said Williams. “Firm leadership will have a personal stake in delivering results and additional incentives to fix problems quickly.”

The standard will take effect on Dec. 15, 2025, subject to SEC approval.