A report released by Huron Consulting Group found that the number of accountants on audit committees has doubled over the last four years. In its research, however, the group found six out of 10 companies did not have at least one accountant on its audit committee in 2005.

“Despite an increase in the number of accountants on audit committees, they are still playing catch up to other categories of professionals,” said Huron managing director Maureen Loftus, in a statement. “In fact, most people are very surprised to learn how few accountants are on audit committees.”

In its analysis, Huron found that the number of audit committees with at least one accountant increased from 20 percent in 2002, to 11 percent in 2005. While all companies reported having an audit committee member with financial expertise in 2005, only 23 percent of the designated financial experts came from accounting backgrounds.

And while the average number of audit committee members has remained constant -- at about four per company between 2002 and 2005, meetings nearly doubled to 10 during the research period as committees worked to make sense of the new Sarbanes-Oxley regulations and increasingly complex accounting rules.

The Audit Committee Research report was based on a sample of more than 700 audit committee members at 178 public companies from the NASDAQ 100 and Fortune 100 listings. The report analyzed patterns of committee composition over a four-year period from 2002 to 2005 using information contained in the companies’ annual proxy statements and 10-K disclosures filed with the Securities and Exchange Commission.

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