In an effort to aid smaller publicly traded businesses with internal controls compliance, the Committee of Sponsoring Organizations said that it would offer online guidance for internal controls assessment by the summer.

In conjunction with COSO, as well as the Advisory Committee of the Securities and Exchange Commission and the Public Company Accounting Oversight Board, Big Four firm PricewaterhouseCoopers will produce the guidance materials, which will be available for a fee. PwC partner Miles Everson will spearhead the effort.

Under Sarbanes-Oxley's Section 404, SEC issuers are required to conduct annual evaluations of their internal controls. This year, public companies under $200 million will be required to meet the internal controls mandates. Companies over $200 million were mandated to assess their internal controls last year.

COSO chairman Larry E. Rittenberg, Ph.D., CPA, CIA, pointed out that approximately 5,000 of the SEC's roughly 9,000 registrants have annual sales of less than $200 million.

"These organizations need guidance that will help them understand the breadth, depth and value of COSO's Control Framework as they go through the process of evaluating controls," Rittenberg explained. "This new project will provide that guidance."

COSO, which was established 20 years to improve the financial reporting process, is comprised of the American Institute of CPAs, Financial Executives International, the Institute of Internal Auditors, the Institute of Management Accountants and the American Accounting Association.

Rittenberg was named the new COSO chairman in early January. In his new role, Rittenberg will lead COSO's efforts investing in conceptual frameworks designed to enhance understanding and management of risk and control. Under his leadership, the organization will provide guidance for cost-effective small business application of COSO's Internal Control Integrated Framework.

Rittenberg - who is currently one of COSO's five board members - succeeds John J. Flaherty, CIA, CPA.

He currently teaches and conducts research at the University of Wisconsin in Madison, focusing on auditing and corporate governance. He co-authored Auditing: Concepts for a Changing Environment and The Outsourcing Dilemma: What Works Best for Internal Auditing.

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