By Anne Rosivach
Accounting students from 52 undergraduate and graduate institutions will be the recipients of scholarships awarded by the Public Company Accounting Oversight Board (PCAOB). Each school will select one student to receive the $10,000 scholarship, which is a one-time merit-based award that will be paid directly to the educational institution by the PCAOB for eligible expenses such as tuition, fees, books, and supplies.
The Sarbanes-Oxley Act of 2002 requires that monetary penalties imposed by the PCAOB be used to fund scholarships for students in accredited accounting degree programs. The board announced the names of the academic institutions selected for 2011-2012, the first year the awards have been given, on July 6. The 52 schools selected will not be considered again for five years or until all institutions in the respective group have been selected, whichever occurs first, the Board states.
Many colleges and universities are still in the process of selecting the recipients. At Fairfield University's Dolan School of Business in Fairfield, Connecticut, one of the schools selected by the PCAOB, Gregory Burke, an undergraduate accounting major and member of the Class of 2012, has been chosen to receive the PCAOB award by Dr. Joan Van Hise, chair of the accounting department at Fairfield Dolan School of Business, and Dr. Dawn Massey, coordinator of the Graduate Accounting Programs. Van Hise said, "Greg is extremely bright, active in numerous campus activities, has extensive leadership experience, and has already interned in public accounting."
To be eligible for the scholarship award, a student must:
· Be enrolled in a bachelor's or master's degree program in Accounting
· Demonstrate interest and aptitude in accounting and auditing
· Demonstrate high ethical standards
· Not be a PCAOB employee or a child or spouse of a PCAOB employee
The PCAOB, with the assistance of ACT, Inc. of Iowa City, Iowa, selects among the eligible institutions by using a statistical selection process that follows protocols for fairness and impartiality.
Eligible institutions are accredited U.S. colleges and universities that award bachelor's or master's degrees in accounting. The schools selected each year will come from two groups: Group A, which includes the 100 institutions with the highest total of master's degrees in accounting conferred during the preceding five academic years, and Group B, which contains all other institutions that offer bachelor's and master's degrees in accounting.
Seventy-five percent of the scholarships will go to students attending institutions in Group A and 25 percent will be awarded to students who attend institutions in Group B.
"We are grateful to Congress for allowing us to bring the PCAOB and the academic community closer together with this scholarship program that will provide a source of funding to encourage outstanding students to pursue a career in auditing." We hope to inspire future thought leaders in auditing for the benefit of investors," said PCAOB Chairman James R. Doty."
The PCAOB is responsible for registering public accounting firms that prepare audit reports and establishing or adopting auditing, quality control, ethics, and independence standards. The board conducts inspections of public accounting firms and enforces compliance with the Sarbanes-Oxley Act. It may penalize an auditing firm up to $2 million per violation of the act, up to a maximum of $15 million. Individuals associated or employed by registered firms may be fined up to $100.00 for each violation, up to a maximum of $750,000.
The Big 4 accounting firms, which audit the largest global companies, have paid the biggest penalties. In April 2011 PricewaterhouseCoopers was ordered to pay a $1.5 million penalty against two of its firms based in India, the Board's largest civil money penalty to date, for violations of PCAOB rules and standards in connection with the audit of India IT service provider, Satyam Computer Services
The first fine levied by the PCAOB was in 2007 against Deloitte for $1 million
. The board charged Deloitte with allowing a partner who had performed poor audits in the past to conduct the 2003 audit of Ligand Pharmaceuticals, a public company based in San Diego.