New York (March 12, 2004) -- The American Institute of CPAs has launched the second of three planned audit quality centers -- this one dedicated to auditing employee benefit plans.


The Employee Benefit Plan Audit Quality Center was created to create a “community” of firms committed to audit quality in employee benefit plans under the Employee Retirement Income Security Act, and also to serve as a resource provider for member firms.


The creation of the trio of audit centers, which focus on public companies, employee benefits and governmental entities, was approved by AICPA Council members at their October meeting. The Center for Public Company Audit Firms, which replaced the institute’s former SEC Practice Section, was unveiled in January.


“We’ve had a long history of being involved with employee benefits audits,” said Ian MacKay, director of professional standards and services for the AICPA, who oversees the center. “There are 4,700 firms that perform about 80,000 ERISA audits on an annual basis and that was a large factor in helping us determine what our members were looking for.”


In terms of member interest, MacKay noted that the AICPA’s employee benefits conference is the institute’s second largest behind its SEC conference.


Member dues to the center are on a sliding scale, based on the number of CPAs in a firm. For firms with less than 10 CPAs, the minimum dues are $150. Information is available online at http://www.aicpa.org/ebpaqc/homepage.htm.


The ERISA center's 14-member executive committee is chaired by Anita Baker of Minneapolis-based LarsonAllen.


-- Bill Carlino

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