Portland, Ore. (June 16, 2003) -- The Public Company Accounting Oversight Board, the body that regulates the accounting for publicly traded companies, could spur greater uniformity among the accounting profession's state regulators, opined executives from the National Association of State Boards of Accountancy at the group’s western regional meeting, here.

"We are at a crossroads in the regulation of the profession and if we don't attain uniformity as state boards, we risk losing our relevancy," said Mike Conaway, NASBA chairman.

Conaway added that the PCAOB, created by last year's passage of the Sarbanes-Oxley law, was able in "one fell swoop" to recognize and provide a regulatory framework for CPAs in all 50 states who do attest work for public companies.

NASBA president David Costello noted that while 45 of the 54 boards represented by their group are substantially equivalent in acceptance of the Uniform Accountancy Act, approximately 23 do not recognize CPAs' licenses from other jurisdictions and, instead, require them to get licensed separately to work in their states. That thwarts the interstate mobility of accountants.

"Enabling the interstate mobility of licensees is critical at this juncture,' said a report by Costello, distributed to the 167 delegates attending the conference. The report calls on delegates to "embrace a grander view of regulation”, noting that the PCAOB is already "moving rapidly to implement nationwide inspection of the auditors of public companies."

Carlos E. Johnson, a NASBA delegate from Oklahoma, said, "We have to step up and provide uniformity or someone else will."

Much of the meeting, like NASBA's eastern region conference a week earlier, was dedicated to having members share ideas on how boards will deal with the PCAOB and with the many new auditing regulations established by Sarbanes-Oxley. The findings of the two conferences will be combined into reports NASBA will unveil at its national conference in October.

The takeover of the peer review of auditors of publicly-traded companies could provide major assistance to state regulators' oversight of all CPAs, particularly those auditing privately held companies, according to delegates at one of the breakout sessions. "This is a great opportunity for states to identify who is subject to disciplinary action and then notify other states where they practice,” said Thomas J. Sadler, a delegate from Washington state.

"We must be aware that some PCAOB firms also do work private work (attest work for non-public entities), so if there's a breakdown with one of those firms, we will want to know sooner than later," said Barton W. Baldwin, a NASBA delegate from North Carolina.

-- John M. Covaleski

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