The coalition of accountants formed of the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants, and the Big Five firms is short one firm today as the group has voted to sever ties with Andersen for the time being.
The group, which typically presents a united front when lobbying for issues before Congress, has agreed to let Andersen fight its own battles for now. "Arthur Andersen is in the middle of a firestorm," said Vin Weber of the lobbying firm Clark & Weinstock, which has been hired to represent the coalition. "For the near term, the coalition and Andersen will pursue separate paths."
While Congress is considering stricter guidelines for auditors and their firms, the lobbying coalition wants to be in a position to address Congressional concerns independently of Andersen, which is facing investigations by 10 Congressional committees as a result of the firm's role in the Enron collapse.
Andersen has announced several strict reforms, including a decision to no longer provide information technology consulting or internal audit services to audit clients. Andersen has also created two new internal offices for audit quality and for ethics and compliance.
While Andersen strives to recover its reputation and ensure its survival, the other firms want to have more flexibility in their lobbying efforts.