Although they are supporting new audit rules that give public companies the option to report the elimination of a material weakness in internal control over financial reporting, the Big Four accounting firms have called on the Securities and Exchange Commission to issue more detailed guidance for making these disclosures.At issue: the Public Company Accounting Standards Board's new Auditing Standard No. 4, which recently won SEC approval. That standard allows the management of audited companies to voluntarily commission their auditors to report whether a previously reported material weakness continues to exist - an option that accountants at PricewaterhouseCoopers described as "a useful tool" for providing the public with assurance that a previously reported internal control problem no longer exists.

The PCAOB, which adopted the statement in July, will issue a concise outline of the affirmative audit steps set forth in Auditing Standard No. 4, as ordered by the SEC.

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