Federal Reserve Board Governor Mark W. Olson has been appointed the new chairman of the five-member Public Company Accounting Oversight Board for a term running until 2010.

In making the announcement, Securities and Exchange Chairman Christopher Cox said that Olson's experience as a central banker, his background in securities law, his expertise as a partner at Ernst & Young LLP and his time as a bank president, made him the ideal candidate for the role.

Olson, 63, joined the Federal Reserve in December 2001 and, in addition to his policy-making duties as a governor, has served as the administrative governor since August 2002, a role where he was responsible for the management of the Federal Reserve Board.

It took the SEC nearly nine months to find a successor to William McDonough, the board's first steady chairman, who announced he would be leaving the position in September. Olson steps in at a politically perilous time for the board -- many business interests are forcefully lobbying for a repeal of Sarbanes-Oxley's internal controls provisions for smaller public companies, and a lawsuit has been filed questioning the PCAOB's own constitutionality.

Before joining the Fed, Olson served for a year as staff director of the U.S. Senate Securities Subcommittee of the Banking, Housing and Urban Affairs Committee, which oversees the SEC, accounting policy issues and the insurance industry. At E&Y, Olson, who is not an accountant by trade, was national director of the firm's regulatory consulting practice for the financial services industry. He began his career as a banker in 1966, serving as the chief executive of several banks over the next two decades and occasionally working for then-Congressman Bill Frenzel, R-Minn., in the 1970s.

From 1976 to 1988, Olson was president and chief executive of Security State Bank and served a one-year term as president of the American Bankers Association. He began his banking career in 1966 with First Bank System (now U.S. Bancorp) and was named an officer in 1969. The SEC's announcement noted that he also played a role in Treasury Department's 1991-92 initiative to assist Eastern European bankers in adapting to a free-market economy.

Acting chairman William Gradison, who had reportedly been interviewed for taking on the top slot permanently, will remain a member of the board. Cox singled out Gradison for leading " the effort to ensure that the application of Sarbanes-Oxley Section 404 to companies of all sizes will, in the near future, yield greater investor benefits at significantly lower cost."

T he SEC also reappointed Kayla Gillan, one of the board's original five and former general counsel to California's public-employee pension plan, for a term to end in 2007 . The PCAOB's original members received staggered terms ranging from one to five years, so that only a single member's term would expire each year, and successors could receive full five-year terms.

Previously on WebCPA:

PCAOB Chairman Possibilities Floated (June 15, 2006)

Firm, Anti-Tax Group File Suit Against PCAOB (Feb. 9, 2006)

McDonough Steps Down from PCAOB (Sept. 23, 2005)

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