This study explores state accountancy regulators' perceptions of whether external auditors remain independent when also performing internal audit activities for nonpublic entities. The purpose of this study is to provide a more complete understanding of perceptions regarding auditor independence in the nonpublic entity environment. The primary issues are (1) whether performing the external audit and internal auditing services for the same entity affects perceptions of independence, and (2) whether a separation between the CPA firm's internal and external audit personnel significantly affects perceptions of independence when both services are performed.
We use a between‐subjects design and target state accountancy regulators from each of the 54 U.S. jurisdictions. Findings based on 206 usable responses indicate that state board members do not perceive a significant difference in the independence of a CPA firm performing a nonpublic entity's external audit versus a CPA firm performing that entity's external audit and internal audit, provided that separate personnel are used for the external and internal audit work. Board members do perceive a significant difference in independence when the CPA firm uses the same personnel to perform both the external and internal audit work.