September 2000

Proposed auditor independence rulemaking

The SEC held additional public hearings on its auditor independence rule proposal in New York City on September 13 and Washington, D.C., on September 20. (At press time, the names of those scheduled to testify and their comments were not available.)

The SECís proposed rulemaking would address the following goals:

  • Significantly reducing the number of audit firm employees and their family members whose investments in audit clients are attributed to the auditor;
  • Identifying certain nonaudit services that, if provided to an audit client, would impair the auditorís independence (The scope-of-

    services proposals would not extend to services provided to nonaudit clients);

  • Providing a limited exception for accounting firms that have certain quality controls and satisfy other conditions; and
  • Requiring companies to disclose in their annual proxy statements containing certain information about, among other things, nonaudit services provided by their audit firm during the previous fiscal year.

    Dan L. Goldwasser, an attorney with Vedder Price Kaufman & Kammholz in New York City and a member of The CPA Journal Editorial Board, was one of 24 individuals that testified at the SECís first public hearing on the proposal on July 26 in Washington, D.C. Goldwasser reported that he left the hearings with the clear impression of SEC Chair Arthur Levittís frustration with the lack of initiative by the Independence Standards Board (ISB), four of whose members also testified at the hearings, to take action as a self-regulatory organization in addressing the growing controversy on auditor independence. q

    Editorís Note: Current information and commentary on the public hearings, including links to related websites and documents, are available from the NYSSCPA Auditor Independence Center at

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