Somehow I don't think that I'm the only one who snickered at the news of the Public Company Accounting Oversight Board's securing space at what was the Washington D.C. office of former Big Four firm Andersen.
How great is this? Could veteran Capitol Hill satirist Mark Russell have come up with a better skit?
For those who somehow missed this juicy piece of real estate news, the PCAOB, created as a result of the massive auditing scandals like the ones showcased in Andersen’s audit of Enron, will now unpack at the same K Street digs as one of the firms that provided the genesis of this massive regulatory reform.
Office space in D.C. is most likely at a premium and regardless of whether the previous tenants were Arthur Andersen or Arthur Levitt, it was fair game. I mean have any readers ever shopped for retail space or apartments in New York at rates that don’t exceed the gross national product of Paraguay? I can’t imagine Washington is too budget-friendly either.
Irony aside, the once-rudderless PCAOB now has an office – despite its fist official meeting taking place at the Securities and Exchange Commission — and an acting chairman in Charles Neimeier, one of the board’s current members and former chief accountant at the SEC’s Enforcement Division.
Neimeier, arguably the most qualified of the members of the PCAOB in enforcement and reform measures, would most likely be an effective chairman were he to be named to the post on a permanent basis.
However, that’s one of many first-week-on-the-job decisions for the new SEC chairman pending the expected confirmation of William H. Donaldson. This guy’s honeymoon period promised to be shorter than the one that followed the weeklong marriage of Carmen Electra and Dennis Rodman.
But back to the PCAOB.
This consortium of reformers enjoyed a less-than-stellar beginning, which saw its newly appointed chairman William Webster, resign about a half-hour after being appointed, the board said it would begin its inspection of accounting firms sometime in the summer.
In addition, the board must also begin filling seven director posts. The members voted themselves a not-too-shabby (for public service that is) annual salary of $452,000, which is, by my calculations, is more than four times what the SEC chairman receives. The group expects to have roughly 200 people on the payroll by year-end and another office, most likely in New York.
But the board seems to be jelling, albeit slowly, if only because they now have an office and a leader — both of which are sort of important if you’re going to try and enact reform.
And should they ever require any motivation, they can always hearken back to the building’s former tenants.
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