White House Proposes Eliminating the PCAOB

By:
Chris Gaetano
Published Date:
Feb 11, 2020
PCAOB 240x240

The White House has proposed eliminating the Public Company Accounting Oversight Board (PCAOB) entirely as part of its budget plan, according to Bloomberg. The regulator's responsibility to oversee the audit profession would instead be folded directly into the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), which currently supervises the PCAOB. 

"The Sarbanes-Oxley Act of 2002 established PCAOB to oversee the audits and auditors of both public companies that are subject to Federal securities law and broker-dealers registered with SEC," said the White House on page 179 of the budget proposal. "The Budget proposes to consolidate the authorities and responsibilities of PCAOB into SEC beginning in 2022. SEC is already charged with investigating Federal securities law violations and has the authority to impose disciplinary action, including for public accounting firms that are also overseen by PCAOB. Consolidating these functions within SEC will reduce regulatory ambiguity and duplicative statutory authorities. SEC is also subject to discretionary appropriations, which ensures oversight and constraint over the fees assessed on market participants."

The White House believes that this will save about $580 million over nine years. Bloomberg noted that the PCAOB, which is supported by fees on public companies and broker-dealers, is currently working with an operating budget of $284.7 million. 

There is little other information about this proposal and what it might entail. It is unknown, for example, whether this will come with a corresponding budget increase at the SEC to take on this work, whether current PCAOB personnel will be folded into the SEC, or if the SEC will conduct inspections substantially differently than the PCAOB. Bloomberg noted, however, that the SEC staff is unused to the kind of work the PCAOB does, and it further speculated that it is possible that audit quality might get lost in the shuffle amid the commission's other priorities. 

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