With a brief note from new public affairs director Christi Harlan apologizing for the delay, the Public Company Accounting Oversight Board joined the digital world Tuesday by unveiling its public Web site at www.pcaobus.org.

That might come as a surprise to many tax and accounting professionals, who thought an official PCAOB site had been up and running (at pcaob.com) for many months.

Nope, that was just an enterprising project dreamed up by California CPA Karl Nagel of Karl Nagel & Co., who realized early on that public companies and finance professionals would be intensely interested in the goings-on at the new board.

Nagel's site has the look and feel of an official site, and offers visitors daily updates on information related to the PCAOB, the complete text of the Sarbanes-Oxley Act that mandated the board's formation, and a handy timeline on what's already happened and what's coming down the pike. Incredibly (who's doing all this work?), it also includes access to research standards and regulations as mandated by Sarbanes-Oxley, including proposed rules, and plans to offer a complete and searchable listing of CPA firms registered with the PCAOB as soon as that information becomes available, plus the ability to browse through the public company GAAS/QC/IN standards.

Aside from the public service the site has offered (absent the presence of an official Web presence for so many months), it also served as a terrific marketing tool for the firm's aptly named Public Company Accounting Oversight Group, which provides assistance to companies who need to comply with the new record keeping and disclosure requirements of SOX.

Problem is, now that the PCAOB has its own site up and running (with not nearly as much cool information as Nagel's site -- at least not yet), it's already hinted at getting some lawyers involved in shutting Nagel's site down.

Which would be a shame. Innovation springs from those with the foresight to see what's just beyond the horizon, and Nagel's performing a valuable service for fellow CPAs, public companies and anyone else who's interested in the most sweeping changes in the accounting industry in many decades.

Let's hope the folks at the real PCAOB concentrate on the tasks mandated by the reform law, and not spend time trying to silence a CPA offering a very real public service.

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