PCAOB provides firms opportunity for inspection relief

By Ken Tysiac

Registered audit firms that request relief from PCAOB inspections as a result of the coronavirus pandemic will be granted up to a 45-day relief period, with the exception of providing the board access to audit documentation for certain engagements.

The PCAOB advised audit firms that wish to use all or part of the 45-day relief period to reach out to their designated PCAOB inspections point of contact. The board expects to fully resume inspections by May 11.

In a news release issued Monday, the PCAOB said the pause will give audit firms the time, resources, and flexibility to work through significant matters with their issuer and broker-dealer clients. Meanwhile, the board said its inspections staff can continue its work by reviewing documentation for certain engagements remotely and preparing for inspections.

The board will continue to monitor the evolving situation and reassess its policies.

“We remain steadfast in our commitment to protect investors and the public interest by promoting informative, accurate, and independent audit reports,” the board said in the news release. “Audit firms’ adherence to our standards takes on added importance as investors depend now, more than ever, on the integrity of financial statements.”

The board said its core considerations at this time of uncertainty are the health and safety of its employees and those with whom it interacts, and its statutory mission to promote audit quality.

The Center for Audit Quality (CAQ), which is affiliated with the AICPA, said in a statement that it supports the decision issued by the PCAOB.

“We agree with the PCAOB that this decision appropriately balances the unique challenges and dislocation facing preparers, auditors, regulators, and investors with the need to never lose sight of audit quality,” the CAQ statement said. “Rest assured that audit quality remains a top priority for the public company auditing profession and this focus will play a key role in helping to reinforce investor confidence in the integrity of financial reporting during this period of economic uncertainty.”

For more news and reporting on the coronavirus and how CPAs can handle challenges related to the outbreak, visit the JofA’s coronavirus resources page.

Ken Tysiac (Kenneth.Tysiac@aicpa-cima.com) is the JofA’s editorial director.

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