SEC Commissioners Endorse Improved Sarbanes-Oxley Implementation
The SEC’s Commissioners have endorsed the recommendations of the agency’s professional staff to eliminate waste and duplication in the Sarbanes-Oxley (SOX) compliance exercise, in a move that will particularly benefit smaller companies. The Commissioners urged the SEC staff to continue to work closely with the Public Company Accounting Oversight Board (PCAOB) to make the internal controls provisions of Section 404 of SOX more efficient and cost effective. Under SOX, PCAOB audit standards must first be approved by the SEC and cannot take effect without a vote of the Commission. The Commission expects the new PCAOB standard will be submitted for SEC review by the end of May or early June, in time for the 2007 financial statement audits. The Commission’s direction to its staff will focus the remaining work in four areas: aligning the PCAOB’s new auditing standard (AS-5) with the SEC’s proposed new management guidance under Section 404, particularly with regard to prescriptive requirements, definitions and terms; scaling the 404 audit to account for the particular facts and circumstances of companies, particularly smaller companies, encouraging auditors to use professional judgement in the 404 process, particularly in using risk-assessment; and following a principles-based approach to determining when and to what extent the auditor can use the work of others.