The Public Company Accounting Oversight Board approved a hefty $152.8 million operating budget for itself for 2005 - an increase of roughly 50 percent that would allow the oversight body to expand its staff and step up its inspections of audit firms.

Under the new budget, the organization will engage in "an aggressive recruiting effort to hire experienced auditors," and by the end of 2005, the total inspection staff is expected to rise to a total of 220, according to PCAOB chief financial officer Thomas Hohman.

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