The Public Company Accounting Oversight Board (PCAOB), sometimes referred to as Peekaboo, is a private-sector, nonprofit corporation that was created by the Sarbanes-Oxley Act of 2002. The PCAOB is under the jurisdiction of the SEC (Securities and Exchange Commission). The Sarbanes-Oxley Act and the creation of the PCAOB was a direct result of the accounting fraud scandals of Enron and WorldCom. The purpose of the PCAOB is to oversee auditors of public companies in order to protect the interests of investors and further the public interest in the preparation of informative, fair, and independent audited financial statements. This was the first time that public companies were required to have audits on the effectiveness of their internal control over corporate financial reporting. The PCAOB has established auditing, quality control, ethics, and independence standards to be used by registered public accounting firms in the preparation of audited financial statements for publicly traded companies, as required by the Sarbanes-Oxley Act of 2002 and the rules of the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC).
The Sarbanes-Oxley Act of 2002 requires the PCAOB to: register accounting firms that audit publicly companies,; inspect registered accounting firms and their associated Certified Public Accountants (CPA’s) annually for those whom annually audit over 100 public companies and a minimum of once every three years for those that audit under 100, assess the degree to which the firms comply with the act, the rules of the PCAOB and the SEC, professional standards in connection with the performance and issuance of audited financial statements and attest services; related matters involving public companies, and investigate and discipline any accounting firms and related accountants who are in violation of specific laws or standards. All firms are still required to have peer review of their auditing and accounting practice in order to satisfy the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants (AICPA) membership, federal regulatory (Generally Accepted Auditing Standards) and/or state licensing requirements. There are currently over 2,000 public accounting firms registered with the PCAOB, with more pending registration. A list of current and pending registered firms can be found on the PCAOB website.
The PCAOB currently has pending a requirement that all registered firms submit an annual report on Form 2, provided on the PCAOB website, by June 30th, except for those firms that have been registered between April 1st and June 30th of that year. Also they will be required to pay an annual fee to the PCAOB by July 31st. As these requirements are still pending approval, the annual report and fees are not required for the 2009 calendar year deadlines. In these reports the registered firms must provide various information for the year including: audited financial statement reports issued during the year; disciplinary history of any accountants that joined the firm during the year; a break down of the fees for services provided to all clients during the year, showing the percentage of the fees billed to public audit clients for audit services, other accounting services, tax services, and non-audit services. The PCAOB also requires registered firms to submit special reports on Form 3 within 30 days of the occurrence of the special event. Such special events include change of name or contact information, withdrawal of an audited financial statement by an auditor if the client did not report withdrawal in the 8-K filing with the SEC, and if legal, administrative, or disciplinary action have been taken again the firm or its related accountants. These reports, along with reports from the PCAOB on its inspections of public company audits will be available to the public on their website.
The Public Company Accounting Oversight Board’s goal is to improve the quality of audited financial statements, reduce the risk of auditing failures, and increase public trust in financial reporting processes and of the auditing profession. To do this the PCAOB regularly issues reports detailing its inspections of public company audits. One of their main concerns resulting from their inspections is to refocus and remind auditors of the standards required of them regarding fraud and for them to be diligent about their responsibilities relating to fraud. One of the main purposes of audited financial statements is to detect material misstatements and false or missing information caused by fraud.
Neil Rischall is the CPA behind the CPABookkeepers site which has a wealth of information about audited financial statements as well as all services provided by a Certified Public Accountant.