of the Month: AICPA’s Center for Public Company Audit
Susan B. Anders
OCTOBER 2005 - The
AICPA’s Center for Public Company Audit Firms (CPCAF)
has compiled and organized vast resources to support firms
engaged in auditing public companies. The CPCAF is one of
the AICPA’s three Audit Quality Centers and can be reached
from the “Spotlight Area” of the AICPA’s
or at cpcaf.aicpa.org. The SEC Practice Section was reorganized
into the CPCAF in October 2003 to provide technical and educational
information, as well as meet other goals.
CPCAF website is a useful tool even for those without access
to its members-only materials. Many resources should be
helpful to students, new auditors, and practicing CPAs that
are new to public company audits. The website is designed
as a comprehensive starting point in a search for public
company audit information, and contains a variety of materials
with links to the Committee of Sponsoring Organizations
(COSO), FASB, the Public Company Accounting Oversight Board
(PCAOB), the SEC, and other organizations.
Center’s website minimizes the need to separately
search the AICPA’s general website. Linked websites
and PDF documents open in separate windows, and some webpages
provide a printer-friendly view. An excellent feature is
the introductory information on many of the topical area
CPCAF homepage is organized with a top horizontal menu bar
dedicated to the main features: resources, community, events,
membership, and products. The left side is used to highlight
specific resources, and the center is used to spotlight
materials and news items. The main pages are similar to
the homepage in appearance, utilizing the same horizontal
menu bar, but sometimes varying the left-side highlights.
can navigate the website by utilizing the main menu buttons,
the navigation path links beneath the main menu, and the
small hyperlinks at the bottom of the homepage and main
pages. There is also a keyword search feature, as well as
a drop-down bar that lists the AICPA’s special centers.
The overall topical organization is easy to follow; however,
there is sometimes no obvious order to the materials within
a particular topic. The members-only materials are not segregated,
and a nonmember user cannot tell which materials are publicly
available. Some main-page resources are well organized under
subheadings, but those under “additional” or
“other” generally are not.
of the quickest ways to find materials is to go to the “resources”
section. The CPCAF’s resources are organized under
14 topical headings. There is substantial overlap, with
many individual items appearing under multiple topics, which
simplifies the search process. The topical main pages include
helpful explanations of the specific subject area, with
links to the external websites, pertinent webpages on the
main AICPA site, Journal of Accountancy articles,
and PDF documents.
Ethics and Independence section has several resources available
to nonmembers, including AICPA PDF documents on the Code
of Professional Conduct, Rule 101—Independence, and
Rule 102—Integrity and Objectivity, and a comparison
of AICPA and SEC independence rules.
Sarbanes-Oxley section provides the full text of the Sarbanes-Oxley
Act of 2002 as well as links to the main AICPA website.
An almost unnoticeable hyperlink is the Sarbanes-Oxley news
and items of interest, which connects to a Bureau of National
Affairs (BNA) Daily Tax Report on nonaudit service restrictions
and a Journal of Accountancy article on tools for
internal control reporting.
While many resources on the CPCAF website are external,
the “best practices” topic under the SEC Practice
Section Archive (under “resources”) provides
valuable original material. The information is in HTML format
and can be easily read and understood; it covers a consultative
environment, accounting consultations, and communications
with boards of directors, audit committees, and SEC staff.
B. Anders, PhD, CPA, is an associate professor of
accounting at St. Bonaventure University, St. Bonaventure,