As expected, Conrad W. Hewitt, a former Big Four managing partner and commissioner of California's department of financial institutions and superintendent of banking for the state, will take over the top accounting job at the Securities and Exchange Commission.

SEC Chairman Christopher Cox named Hewitt, 69, t he agency's chief accountant on Monday, filling a position that has been open since last fall when Donald Nicolaisen elected to return to the private sector.

There's no question the regulatory landscape has changed considerably since Hewitt left his post as California's top financial regulator in 1998. However, having spent his recent years serving on the boards of a handful of public and private companies, and chairing more than 10 different audit committees among them, Hewitt is undoubtedly familiar with the changes wrought under the Sarbanes-Oxley Act of 2002.

As chief accountant, Hewitt will oversee accounting interpretations, international accounting matters, professional practice issues and lead the SEC's work on implementing the internal controls provisions of Sarbanes-Oxley. He will also likely be the face of the commission's efforts to reduce complexity in accounting, enforce compliance with accounting standards and promoting the convergence of international accounting standards.

"Conrad's mission -- to maintain the integrity and strength of our markets in an era of unprecedented global competition -- is enormously important," said Cox, in a statement. "His combination of public and private sector experience, his extensive knowledge, and his practiced judgment make him exceptionally qualified to meet this challenge, and to help ... the commission address the whole range of domestic and international issues facing us."

As a CPA, Hewitt spent more than 30 years with Ernst & Young, leaving as a managing partner in 1995. He began his career as an auditor in the U.S. Air Force.

Scott Taub, the longest serving of the SEC's deputy chief accountants, has served as acting chief accountant since November. Hewitt will start Aug. 18.

Previously on WebCPA:

California CPA Expected to be Pick for SEC Chief Accountant (July 24, 2006)

Nicolaisen: 'We Need to Get This Right' (May 22, 2006)SEC Names Acting Chief Accountant (Nov. 15, 2005)

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