Once while interviewing noted stage and film actor Howard da Silva he noted that while performing "1776" on Broadway he'd momentarily had forgotten his lines - a frequent side effect I'm told, of reciting the same dialogue night after night.
Sensing trouble, his co-star in the scene, William Daniels, quietly told him out of earshot of that night's attendees, "Howard, just put it back on automatic."
Given the dramatic production currently being staged at the Securities and Exchange Commission perhaps its members should heed the late Mr. da Silva's advice and just put it back on automatic.
Yes, the resignations of chairman Harvey Pitt and chief accountant Robert Herdman have left the "the investors' advocate," in somewhat of a state of temporary flux, but as one former SEC official told me last week, the Commission has systems in place to carry on with or without a chairman or chief auditor.
But it's not like they don't have an agenda or an inkling of what needs to be done. Even the now-four member Public Company Accounting Oversight Board, sans William Webster, whose tenure as chairman of the board charged with accounting reform was shorter than the recent Broadway run of "Saturday Night Fever," is adopting "the show must go on" attitude.
Let's face it, nothing moves quickly in Washington - traffic, legislation or nominations. But eventually, successors to Pitt and Webster will be chosen - although it's currently a prognosticator's paradise as to who will be chosen to fill either slot.
Yes it's imperative that strong reformers are ensconced in those positions. Late last week there was a glimmer of hope that Justice Department crusader Michael Chertoff - the man who prosecuted Andersen - would consider accepting the SEC post. But after mulling it over, he apparently has tabled that decision for now. If by some chance he does accept, can you envision the 180-degree swing from Pitt's promise to the AICPA of a "kinder, gentler, SEC?"
But regardless, the far larger issue for the regulator and the oversight board is to ensure accounting reform and work to eradicate corporate fraud.
And if everyone does his or her collective jobs, it should be automatic.
And hopefully that will be a run lasting far longer than "Cats."
Register or login for access to this item and much more
All Accounting Today content is archived after seven days.
Community members receive:
- All recent and archived articles
- Conference offers and updates
- A full menu of enewsletter options
- Web seminars, white papers, ebooks
Already have an account? Log In
Don't have an account? Register for Free Unlimited Access