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The Auditing Standards Board (ASB) recently established an ASB Horizons Task Force to develop a strategic plan for the ASB.

According to a publication of the ASB, the planning group was established to give proper consideration to the work of two special committees, a recent GAO report, and other environmental factors. In 1994, the AICPA Special Committee on Financial Reporting
(Jenkins Committee) made recommendations for an expanded financial reporting model that would necessitate the development of additional audit or attest procedures and reporting guidance. In 1997, the AICPA Special Committee on Assurance Services (Elliott Committee) published on the AICPA's Internet site information and suggestions regarding improvements to existing audit services and the development of performance and reporting guidance for other assurance services. Finally, in September 1996, the General Accounting Office (GAO) issued The Accounting Profession Major Issues: Progress and Concerns, the culmination of its two-year study of the accounting profession in the United States. The GAO's observations provide valuable insights into the perspective of an important public oversight body that have implications for standards setters.

Other factors the ASB feels the task force can respond to are the push to allow foreign issuers to register their securities for sale in the United States if they comply with international standards and the impact of information technology on the processing and accessibility of information.

The ASB Horizons Task Force has established an agenda and scheduled meetings throughout the year. The task force is scheduled to present its draft of the plan to the ASB in September with final ASB approval in December 1997.

Issues being considered by the task force include the following:

* Improving audit and attest standards

* Concerns of small-firm practitioners

* New assurance services

* The ASB's role in international standard-setting

* Continuing "expectation gap" matters

* The impact of technology on auditing

* Improving the way the ASB operates

James S. Gerson, ASB member and partner with Coopers & Lybrand L.L.P., is the chair of ASB Horizons Task Force. Comments and suggestions for the task force may be directed to the task force staff liaison, Julie Anne Dilley, Technical Manager, Audit and Attest Standards, at the AICPA, 1211 Avenue of the Americas, New York NY 10036, or via e-mail to JDilley@aicpa.org. *

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