PCAOB to consider quality-control standard

BY KEN TYSIAC

Audit firms’ quality controls will be the subject of PCAOB discussion in 2014 that could lead to a new auditing standard, board Chief Auditor and Director of Professional Standards Martin Baumann said Tuesday.

The PCAOB plans to issue a concept release seeking comment on ways to address audit firm quality controls. Baumann said at the AICPA Conference on Current SEC and PCAOB Developments that current quality-control standards do not appropriately address several matters that are important to audit quality.

These include:

  • Tone at the top.
  • Risk assessment and response to risk.
  • Accountability and supervisory activities at the top of the firm.
  • Application within the firm of professional skepticism.
  • Alignment of individual incentives with audit quality objectives.
  • Remediation and root-cause analysis.

Baumann said significant changes have occurred since the existing interim quality-control standards were issued, including enactment of the Sarbanes-Oxley Act. He said deficiencies identified in PCAOB inspections also indicate a need to explore the topic.

“We are working on a concept release with a framework that represents a holistic approach to audit firm quality controls,” Baumann said. “This is a very important project which I believe holds the promise of potentially significant improvements to audit quality.”

In addition, the PCAOB plans to propose a standard in late 2014 on auditing accounting estimates, including fair value measurements. Baumann said the proposal would be designed to replace a number of interim standards.

Ken Tysiac ( ktysiac@aicpa.org ) is a JofA senior editor.

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