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

Read the Full Report: Audits of Public Companies: Continued Concentration in Audit Market for Large Public Companies Does Not Call for Immediate Action (GAO-08-163)

Overall Background

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).

Instructions for Viewing the Surveys

How to View The Surveys

  • We present the results of two surveys concerning Audits of Public Companies: (1) Survey of Public Companies and (2) Survey of Audit Firms.
  • Click on the "Selecting a Survey to View Survey Results" link located in the lower right of this screen to make your selection. To read to the bottom of the screen, you may need to use your scroll bar on the right side of this screen.
  • Once you have selected a survey, the next screen in each of the surveys is an introduction and general information that was sent to and viewed by recipients of the survey. There are no survey results to view on this screen. This screen is for information only and you may by-pass it by clicking on Next located at the bottom of the screen in the lower right.
  • The survey may have links to allow respondents to bypass inapplicable questions (skip patterns). While these were active links during the data collection period, they have now been disabled.

How to View the Responses for Each Question

  • To view the responses to each question, click on the question number (Links to survey questions will look like this: 1., etc.).
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Contact Information?

  • If you have questions concerning these data, please contact Orice Williams at (202)512-5837 or
Selecting a Survey to View Survey Results

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