July 26, 2007

NASDAQ and Banking Lobby Endorse Ombuds for Accounting Oversight

On the fifth anniversary of the Sarbanes-Oxley Act, the Securities and Exchange Commission has adopted auditing rules to reduce the burdensome internal-controls provisions of the law. However, the country's largest electronic equity securities market and a banking lobby want further changes, including an ombuds for the organization that regulates auditors of publicly traded companies -- the Public Company Accounting Oversight Board. In an open letter, the NASDAQ urged the SEC to "Establish an 'Ombudsman' office in PCAOB to serve as an advocate for issuers who feel their internal controls are being over-audited." Similarly, the interest group, America's Community Bankers, urged the creation of an PCOAB ombuds similar to the FDIC ombuds (and without the advocacy characteristic). The SEC is currently reviewing these recommendations. (NASDAQ Press Release; America's Community Bankers Letter; CFO Magazine.)

It thus remains to be seen whether the SEC will adopt an organizational or classical ombuds model. Although federal ombuds are more commonly classical, effective organizational ombuds can be found in some regulatory agencies (e.g., FDIC, FDA and Office of Thrift Supervision).

(Related posts Banking Expert Recommends Ombuds for Accounting and Securities Industries; House Bill Proposes Ombuds for Accounting Oversight.)

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