Niemeier Named Acting Head of Accounting Oversight Board

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The Public Company Accounting Oversight Board (PCAOB) held its first official meeting on Thursday with Charles Niemeier at the helm as the acting chairman. Mr. Niemeier, already one of the members of the board, will continue in the position of acting head until a permanent chairman is selected. He is the former chief accountant for the Securities and Exchange Commission's enforcement division.

The new board agreed on salaries for board members at its Thursday meeting - $452,000 per year for board members and $556,000 per year for the chairman. While the salaries are in line with those paid at the Financial Accounting Standards Board, some in Congress are already expressing disappointment that the high salaries - more than triple the salary of the Chairman of the SEC, and even more than is made by the President of the United States - sends the wrong message. In addition, the board agreed to seek a loan of $1.9 million to meet its initial expenses.

The board seeks to hire approximately 200 staff members to carry out its task of inspecting accounting firms that audit publicly held companies. Korn Ferry, an executive search firm, has been hired to aid in the search for employees. Initially the firm is searching for seven top positions. Interested parties can apply for jobs online. It is expected that the PCAOB will be ready to begin its inspections by the summer of 2003.

One Board member suggested that the PCAOB adopt its own auditor rotation policy - thereby symbolically setting itself up as a role model for public companies - but the proposal was rejected as needing further study.

The PCAOB has signed a lease for office space on K Street in Washington D.C. in the space vacated by former Big Five accounting firm Andersen.

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