Audits of Public Companies:

Survey of Public Accounting Firms and Public Companies (GAO-08-164SP, January 2008), an E-supplement to GAO-08-163

GAO-08-164SP: Published: Jan 9, 2008. Publicly Released: Jan 9, 2008.

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Orice M. Williams
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This document presents the results of GAO's survey of accounting firms that perform public company audits and GAO's survey of public companies. The purpose of the accounting firm survey was to obtain firms' views on their plans regarding engagements with public companies, participation in associations, competition, audit costs and quality, and related issues. The firm survey sample included all firms that audit at least one public company but did not include the four largest accounting firms, which were interviewed individually. The survey was directed to the partner or other official identified as the most likely contact by the Public Company Accounting Oversight Board. We obtained responses from 251 (58 percent) of the 434 eligible firms. However, we report on only the 118 responding firms with five or more public company clients--we determined that including the responses of firms with one to four public clients might bias the results due to their lower response rate and the differences between those answering and not answering the survey. The purpose of the public company survey was to obtain information from audit committee chairs or similar knowledgeable individuals on company choices for audit and nonaudit services and audit cost, quality, and competition. We surveyed a stratified random sample of 595 publicly held companies and, after removing ineligible companies from the sample and population, obtained 406 usable responses and a weighted response rate of 73 percent. We administered these surveys from May to August 2007 by mail and the Web--with nonresponse follow-up by telephone--and conducted all work in accordance with generally accepted government auditing standards. A more detailed discussion of our scope and methodology, and a discussion of our results, is contained in our report "Audits of Public Companies: Continued Concentration in Audit Market for Large Public Companies Does Not Call for Immediate Action," GAO-08-163 (Washington, D.C.: Jan. 9, 2008).

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