October 2003

Website of the Month: PCAOB

By Susan B. Anders, PhD, CPA, St. Bonaventure University

The official Public Company Accounting Oversight Board (PCAOB) website, www.pcaobus.org, has been steadily improving since it was introduced in May 2003. The site was ready for public viewing just in time for CPAs to meet the October 22 registration deadline. The website is compact and efficient, and visiting the website almost reminds one of being at the Washington, D.C., headquarters.

The website’s most important features include the registration system and rulemaking activities. Users can also view a working paper on enforcement, access live and archived webcasts, apply for a job with the PCAOB, and contact PCAOB members. The website also offers easy access to the Sarbanes-Oxley Act of 2002 and other weblinks.

The welcoming screen has an agreeable mix of text and graphics. Users should have no difficulty locating information. The main pages offer a comprehensive vertical index on the left side of the screen, as well as a small footer index. The major resources can be accessed via multiple routes, and moving throughout the site is easy. An outstanding feature is the “printer–friendly” option on many of the main pages.

The resources on www.pcaobus.org are generally quick and easy to download, with one caveat. Although the PCAOB has made a substantial effort to provide easy access to information and documents, these resources are available only as .pdfs. Some of the comments on proposed rules are available only in .zip format. To increase its outreach, the PCAOB should consider making documents available in Word format, and ensure that users with older versions of Acrobat or Windows can view the documents.

Registration System

Because CPAs that are required to register with the PCAOB can do so only online, the registration feature is one of the website’s most important. The registration function can be accessed via the indices on all main pages. First-time users must request a user ID and password. Continuing users must log in, which gives them access to the form submission options and enables them to check the status of their registration. The first-time user will benefit from reviewing the registration frequently asked questions (FAQ) before proceeding.

Once familiar with the registration process, a user can download the “Entitlement Request Form” to apply for access to the registration system (i.e., user name and password). This form is a fill-in pdf form which, oddly enough, must be faxed to the PCAOB after completion. Users can also view and print a sample Form 1 to help them gather the information needed for registration. After obtaining a user name and password, potential registrants will be able to download an actual Form 1, complete the form offline, and then upload the completed Form 1 into the registration system.


Information on the PCAOB’s rulemaking activities can be accessed via a button on the main index. The main rulemaking page provides a table of the proposed rules, briefing papers, and other documents to date. Users can download the proposed rule (pdf) and all previously submitted comments (pdf or zip). Users can also submit comments quickly and easily by clicking on an e-mail link. Unfortunately, the rulemaking webpage is not printer-friendly, which would make reading the table of releases much easier.

Other Features

Available documents include the Sarbanes-Oxley Act of 2002 and an Enforcement working paper. Users can access live and archived PCAOB webcasts, download quickly, and have good sound quality.

Users can investigate job opportunities and apply for positions via the “careers” button on the main index or via a hyperlink in the home page. Applicants may simply submit a resume for general consideration, or view all open positions. Alternatively, job seekers may register online and receive a user name and password that allows them more options for applying, submitting a resume, and following the status of positions applied for.

Editor’s Note: The official PCAOB website is the subject of this month’s review. An unrelated commercial website will be reviewed in November.

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