Accounting Profession:

Oversight, Auditor Independence, and Financial Reporting Issues

GAO-02-742R: Published: May 3, 2002. Publicly Released: May 3, 2002.

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The accounting system's self-regulatory system for auditors, which largely depends on voluntary contributions from the accounting industry, is plagued by fragmentation, lack of coordination, poor communication, and conflicts of interest. In GAO's view, the current self-regulatory system is broken, and oversight by the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) has fallen short in protecting the public interest. Because of the important role played by independent auditors, GAO believes that direct government intervention is needed to create a new body to oversee the auditing of public companies by the accounting profession. Concerns about the timeliness, relevancy, and transparency of the financial reporting model could be addressed by closer cooperation between SEC and the Financial Accounting Standards Board (FASB), adequate and independent funding for FASB operations, and periodic reporting to Congress on FASB matters.

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