The Financial Accounting Standards Board and the International Accounting Standards Board have published a report detailing their progress to date on achieving convergence of U.S. GAAP and International Financial Reporting Standards.

The two boards committed last November to redouble their efforts to bridge the major differences between the two sets of standards by June 2011. To accomplish that objective, the boards have accelerated and intensified their joint work. Instead of meeting jointly every four months, they have held 10 joint meetings totaling more than 100 hours of discussions since the agreement.

As of March 31, 2010, FASB and the IASB said they have achieved substantially all of the milestone targets they had set for the first quarter of 2010. The boards are on track to publish by mid-2010 exposure drafts for five major projects that would improve and achieve substantial convergence of U.S. GAAP and IFRS, including areas such as consolidations, revenue recognition, financial instruments with the characteristics of equity, and financial statement presentation.

However, on two major projects, financial instruments and insurance contracts, the two boards admitted they have reached different conclusions on some important technical issues. “Addressing those differences in ways that foster convergence could affect the project timetables described in this report,” they noted. The boards also agreed in late March to explore an alternative approach to lease accounting, and that decision could affect the project timetables.

In February the Securities and Exchange Commission affirmed its support for a single set of high-quality global accounting standards, but stopped short of approving the proposed roadmap to IFRS issued by former SEC Chairman Christopher Cox. The SEC will decide in 2011 whether or not to incorporate IFRS into the U.S. financial reporting system starting in 2015. So far, approximately 117 other countries have agreed to support IFRS.

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