The Public Company Accounting Oversight Board has been doing outreach to gauge the views of investors and others on potential changes to the auditor’s reporting model and plans to propose changes as soon as this summer.

The board members heard a presentation Tuesday from the PCAOB’s Office of the Chief Auditor on the results of the outreach effort to date. Over the past several months, OCA staff reached out to investors, auditors, preparers of financial statements, audit committee members, and other interested parties to seek their views on potential changes to the auditor's report.  The auditor's report is the primary means by which the auditor communicates to investors and other users of audited financial statements regarding its opinion on those statements.

Last week, the PCAOB Investor Advisory Group also presented recommendations to the board on changes to the auditor’s report (see PCAOB May Probe Audit Firms’ Role in the Financial Crisis). The PCAOB’s Standing Advisory Group plans to discuss the auditor’s report later this week as well.

“We heard from investors that they want more information in the auditor's report.  Investor dissatisfaction with the current auditor’s reporting model should concern other constituents as well, including preparers, auditors and regulators,” said PCAOB Chairman James R. Doty. “Today’s report from our own staff, based on their discussions with a broad audience, will be vital to the board’s effort to develop a meaningful proposal for change in a concept release. Our intention is to expose such a release as early as this summer.”

The board opened Tuesday’s staff briefing to the public in order to provide additional transparency into the PCAOB standard-setting process. The board said it is committed to continue to explore other ways to expand its transparency in the future.

“The auditor’s reporting model is a top standard-setting priority of the board,” said PCAOB chief auditor and director of professional standards Martin F. Baumann. “To better inform their investment decisions, investors say they need to hear more from the auditor about the risks the auditors faced in the audit and about the judgments and estimates management used in the financial statements.”

At the last PCAOB Standing Advisory Group meeting in October 2010, OCA staff discussed their standard-setting initiative on the auditor’s reporting model, and outlined their plans to conduct outreach to identify additional investor and user needs to present to the board. Their outreach efforts were intended to carry out some of the recommendations of a 2008 report of the U.S. Treasury Advisory Committee on the Auditing Profession.

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