Suggesting that accounting firms may have become addicted to the fat audit fees associated with Sarbanes-Oxley compliance efforts, a spokesman for the nation's bankers warned that plans to streamline internal control reporting rules and issue new auditor guidance may not be enough to wean accountants away from wasteful and unnecessary SOX-related audit procedures."Reducing costs and streamlining efforts will only be achieved if the auditing firms have the incentive to make efficiency a priority," American Bankers Association spokesman Thomas Venables told a hearing of the Senate Committee on Small Business and Entrepreneurship.

The banking industry's concerns center on what he described as the "exorbitant costs attributable to audit firms' over-testing and evident misinterpretation" of the Public Company Accounting Oversight Board's rules implementing SOX Section 404 requirements for audits of internal controls.

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