Washington (June 20, 2002) – Legislation to rein in the accounting profession moved closer to reality this week when the Senate Banking Committee passed a bipartisan bill to tighten oversight of the industry.While political pundits and industry observers have been predicting for weeks that accounting reform was hopelessly deadlocked on Capitol Hill due to intense lobbying by the American Institute of CPAs, both legislators and the government renewed their vigor to change the status quo following Andersen’s conviction this past Saturday on obstruction of justice charges.

The Senate bill would restrict the consulting work accountants would be cleared to perform for audit clients, and would create a new board to both oversee and discipline auditors, replacing the current system that enables accountants to largely police themselves.

While industry consultant Allan Koltin said he believes the final reforms will be less stringent than those contained in the Senate legislation and SEC Chairman Harvey Pitt’s proposal, he does think the gridlock is ending.

"Since the Andersen verdict politicians are now saying, ‘We really need to put something in place and make it a now issue,’" he told Electronic Accountant. "Ultimately, I think what we’ll see will be a compromise between the SEC’s proposal and Congress," he said.

--Tracey Miller-Segarra

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