Resources for Audit Committees

The PCAOB staff prepares publications to help audit committees understand the PCAOB's activities and observations.

2023 Spotlight: Staff Priorities for 2024 Inspections and Interactions with Audit Committees

In the context of the PCAOB’s 2024 inspections, the PCAOB staff report contains suggested questions that may be of interest to audit committee members to consider amongst themselves or in discussions with their independent auditors.

These questions are designed principally to further two-way communication on topics such as auditor understanding of the business, fraud, going concern, other auditors, CAMs, and the company’s use of technology.

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2022 Conversations With Audit Committee Chairs

In 2022, more than 200 audit committee chairs accepted our invitation to discuss topics related to the 2021 audit of their company’s financial statements. These conversations provided audit committee chairs an opportunity to connect with staff from the PCAOB’s Division of Registration and Inspections for unstructured, substantive conversations in an informal setting. This staff Spotlight presents high-level observations and takeaways from those conversations.

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2023 Audit Committee Resource

This staff Spotlight suggests questions that audit committee members may want to consider amongst themselves or in discussions with their independent auditors, particularly given today’s economic and geopolitical landscape.

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2022 Audit Committee Resource 

This Spotlight offers questions that audit committees of public companies might want to consider as part of their ongoing engagement and discussion with their auditors, including how the auditors are responding to the financial reporting and audit risks posed by the current economic environment. 

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2021 Conversations with Audit Committee Chairs

Each year, the PCAOB reaches out to audit committee chairs at U.S. public companies whose audits we inspect, inviting them to connect with staff from our Division of Registration and Inspections for substantive conversations covering a range of topics related to oversight of external auditors. In 2021, we conducted more than 240 conversations with audit committee chairs. This publication presents high-level observations and takeaways from those conversations.

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Audit Committee Resource: 2021 Inspections Outlook

The PCAOB issued this resource to accompany our Spotlight publication, Staff Outlook for 2021 Inspections. While audit committees of inspected public companies may use the information in the Spotlight, this additional document suggests questions that audit committees—at their discretion—could use to further engage with their auditors.

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2020 Conversations with Audit Committee Chairs

In 2020, we had nearly 300 conversations with audit committee chairs of the U.S. public companies whose audits we inspected. This publication summarizes perspectives that we received in this engagement, focusing on three core topics: the auditor and communications with the audit committee, new auditing and accounting standards, and emerging technologies.

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The PCAOB’s Use of Economic Analysis and Stakeholder Input in Standard Setting

This Spotlight provides an overview of how we conduct economic analysis and use stakeholder input in our standard-setting process. It also includes a mini case study on how the PCAOB has used—and will continue to use—economic analysis and stakeholder input related to the requirement for auditors to determine and communicate critical audit matters in the auditor’s report.

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Audit Committee Resource: New PCAOB Requirements Regarding Auditing Estimates and Use of Specialists

To help audit committees enhance their understanding in this area, this resource provides the basics of the new requirements, key takeaways for audit committees, and questions to consider asking auditors. 

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Conversations with Audit Committee Chairs: COVID-19 and the Audit

Given the unprecedented challenges for auditors, audit committees, and issuers created by the COVID-19 pandemic, we asked audit committee chairs how they are thinking about the effect of COVID-19 on financial reporting and the audit as they perform their oversight duties.

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Reading PCAOB Inspection Reports

The PCAOB issued the guide to further detail the key changes to the report and assist stakeholders in reading the inspection report.

Guide to Reading the PCAOB's Inspection Report

Webinar for Audit Committee Members

The PCAOB hosted a webinar on July 8, 2020 that provided an overview of the PCAOB’s new inspection reports, auditing and inspecting audits in the COVID-19 environment, new and recent auditing standards activity (e.g., estimates, specialists, critical audit matters, and systems of quality control), data and technology, and audience Q&A.

Speakers included PCAOB Chairman Duhnke, Chief Auditor Megan Zietsman, Deputy Director of Inspections Christine Gunia, and Stakeholder Liaison Erin Dwyer.

Conversations with Audit Committee Chairs: What We Heard & FAQs

In 2019, we reached out to nearly 400 audit committee chairs of U.S. issuers whose audits we inspected and offered them the opportunity to speak with us. In comparison, we spoke to only 88 audit committee chairs in 2018.

Audit committee chairs provided informative and valuable feedback. We share their perspectives in this publication,  Conversations with Audit Committee Chairs: What We Heard & FAQs, in an effort to provide transparency into the process and as part of the reporting out of what we heard.

The document details what we frequently heard from audit committee chairs, their perspectives on what is working well to help improve audit quality, an overview of our inspections process, and staff responses to frequently asked questions during the conversations. 

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Audit Committee Resource: Critical Audit Matters (July 2019)

The new requirement for CAMs is a result of the PCAOB’s 2017 standard AS 3101, The Auditor’s Report on an Audit of Financial Statements When the Auditor Expresses an Unqualified Opinion, which made significant changes to the auditor’s report. The standard is intended to make the auditor’s report more informative and relevant to investors and other financial statement users by shedding light on areas of the audit requiring especially challenging, subjective, or complex auditor judgment. 

This document aims to inform audit committees as they engage with their auditors on the new CAM requirements.

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Staff Guidance on Communication with Audit Committees Concerning Independence

The PCAOB posted  staff guidance on PCAOB Rule 3526, Communication with Audit Committees Concerning Independence. The guidance provides background on Rule 3526 and technical guidance for auditors on the independence-related communications required by the rule. The overview document summarizes the staff guidance for audit committees, investors, and other interested parties.

2019  Staff Inspections Outlook for Audit Committees

The PCAOB staff outlined in this  inspections outlook for audit committees what audit committees should expect from the PCAOB's 2019 inspections. This publication was a supplement to the  Inspections Outlook for 2019.

Implementation of Critical Audit Matters: The Basics

The PCAOB  released three staff guidance documents to support the implementation of the new critical audit matter (CAM). The  Implementation of Critical Audit Matters: The Basics document is a high-level overview that may be of interest to audit committees. In the document, the PCAOB staff address the definition of a CAM, communications of CAMs, interactions with the audit committee and management, and other high-level details about CAMs.