After a six-month vacancy, the Securities and Exchange Commission is zeroing in on a new chairman for the Public Company Accounting Oversight Board, according to published reports.

In its online edition, The Wall Street Journal quoted anonymous sources as saying that three candidates had already been interviewed for the position. The trio includes the board's acting chairman, William Gradison; former Treasury Department official Jerome Powell; and Federal Reserve Board governor Mark Olson.

The board's first chairman, William McDonough, left the agency in November 2005 after helming the regulatory body for 30 months and overseeing the implementation of much of the Sarbanes-Oxley Act.

Gradison, 77, has served as acting chairman since last December. He was an inaugural board member of the PCAOB and had been senior public policy counselor with law and lobbyist firm Patton Boggs since 1999.

A former representative from Ohio, Gradison spent 18 years in Congress and was a ranking member of the House Budget Committee and the Health Subcommittee of the Committee on Ways and Means. After leaving Congress, he served as president of the Health Insurance Association of America for six years.

The youngest of the candidates, Powell, 53, served as assistant secretary for domestic finance and undersecretary for finance under President George H.W. Bush, and has since served on the boards of a number of corporations. Before joining the Treasury, Powell served as a senior vice president of brokerage firm Dillon, Read & Co. Inc., an d as an attorney with the law firms of Werbel & McMillen and Davis Polk & Wardwell.

Olson, 63, is a former Ernst & Young partner, and began serving his term on the Federal Reserve Board in December 2001. His term doesn't expire until January 2010. Before becoming a member of the board, Olson served as staff director of the Securities Subcommittee of the Senate Banking, Housing and Urban Affairs Committee, which oversees the SEC, accounting policy issues and the insurance industry.

At Ernst, Olson 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 former Congressman Bill Frenzel, R-Minn., in the 1970s.

The SEC is also beginning to consider candidates for another seat on the five-member PCAOB. The term of Kayla Gillan, former general counsel to California's public-employee pension plan, expired last fall, but she remains on the job and could be re-nominated.

Previously on WebCPA:

McDonough Lands with Merrill Lynch (Jan. 24, 2006)

Board Member Named Acting PCAOB Chairman (Dec. 5, 2005)McDonough Steps Down from PCAOB (Sept. 23, 2005)

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