SEC Approves PCAOB's $137 Million 2005 Budget

The Public Company Accounting Oversight Board's (PCAOB) 2005 budget grew from $103 million in 2004 to $137 million when the Securities and Exchange Commission unanimously approved the budget Thursday.

The PCAOB, created by the 2002 Sarbanes-Oxley Act to police and discipline public company accountants, is a private, nonprofit agency that relies mostly on public company fees for support. However, its budget is subjected to SEC oversight, the Wall Street Journal reported.

The SEC also approved the Financial Accounting Standards Board's 2005 budget.

In an apparently unusual move, SEC Commissioner Paul Atkins posed extensive questions about the budget, saying the SEC's oversight should be done publicly, not behind closed doors, the Journal reported.

Other SEC officials said that is not the usual format for the SEC and Commissioner Roel Campos wondered if the lengthy questioning was the best use of commission and staff time.

Neither PCAOB Chairman William McDonough nor FASB Chairman Robert Herz were in attendance at the meeting, though both had been invited by Atkins and Commissioner Cynthia Glassman, who sent written invitations, the Journal reported.

Initially the PCAOB had proposed a $152.5 million 2005 budget, but scaled back the request when it spent just $77 million of its 2004 budget of $103 million, the Journal reported. The board fell short of its hiring goals, leaving it with unspent budget dollars, SEC Chief Accountant Donald Nicolaisen said

Nicolaisen expects the board's budget to stabilize as it fills vacant positions in a tight job market for accountants, the Journal reported. He predicted much less growth in 2006 and more stable budgets in future years.

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