Public Company Accounting Oversight Board: Overview, History

What Is the Public Company Accounting Oversight Board (PCAOB)? The Public Company Accounting Oversight Board (PCAOB) is a non-profit organization that regulates auditors of publicly traded companies. It aims to minimize audit risk by overseeing the audits of public companies, brokers, and dealers registered with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC).

Key Takeaways:

  • The PCAOB regulates audits of publicly traded companies to minimize audit risk.
  • It was established alongside the Sarbanes-Oxley Act of 2002 in response to accounting scandals.
  • The board ensures auditors follow strict guidelines to protect investors and stakeholders.

Understanding the Public Company Accounting Oversight Board The PCAOB was established with the passage of the Sarbanes-Oxley Act of 2002, which was a response to accounting scandals in the late 1990s. The board’s primary purpose is to protect investors and stakeholders of public companies by ensuring that auditors adhere to a set of strict guidelines when examining a company’s financial statements.

The PCAOB is overseen by the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), and since 2010, it has also overseen audits of SEC-registered brokers and dealers.

PCAOB Advisory Groups The PCAOB has two advisory groups: the Standing Advisory Group and the Investor Advisory Group. These groups provide advice and insights to the board.

Standing Advisory Group:

  • Meets semi-annually to discuss various topics such as data and technology, cybersecurity, corporate culture, communications on PCAOB standards, governance and leadership of quality control systems, and current or emerging issues affecting audits or auditors.
  • Focuses on the implementation of the new auditor’s report.

Investor Advisory Group:

  • Meets annually to discuss strategic plans, quality control standards, implementation of the new auditor’s report, and implementation of Form AP.
  • Aligns its discussions with the PCAOB’s five-step strategic plan outlined in its annual report.

PCAOB’s Five-Step Strategic Plan:

  1. Drive improvement in the quality of audit services through a combination of prevention, detection, deterrence, and remediation.
  2. Anticipate and respond to the changing environment, including emerging technologies and related risks and opportunities.
  3. Enhance transparency and accessibility through proactive stakeholder engagement.
  4. Pursue operational excellence through efficient and effective use of resources, information, and technology.
  5. Develop, empower, and reward personnel to achieve shared goals.

PCAOB Statistics:

  • As of 2021, there were 1,709 PCAOB-registered firms in the United States.
  • In 2020, PCAOB sanctioned 13 firms and 18 individuals following 219 audit inspections.
  • In 2021, the numbers increased to 14 firms and 15 individuals sanctioned following 191 inspections.

Reference: PCAOB. “Annual Report,” Page 5.

Resources for Further Reading

Websites and Online Resources:

  1. Public Company Accounting Oversight Board (PCAOB) Official Website – The official website of the PCAOB provides comprehensive information about its mission, regulations, reports, and resources for auditors and investors.
  2. U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) – The SEC’s website offers valuable insights into the regulatory framework governing public companies, auditors, and the PCAOB. It provides access to relevant laws, regulations, enforcement actions, and investor resources.


  1. “The Sarbanes-Oxley Act: Costs, Benefits and Business Impacts” by Gaurav Gupta – This book delves into the historical context and impact of the Sarbanes-Oxley Act, including the establishment of the PCAOB and its role in enhancing audit integrity.
  2. “Auditing and Assurance Services” by Alvin A. Arens, Randal J. Elder, Mark S. Beasley, and Chris E. Hogan – This comprehensive textbook covers various aspects of auditing, including the regulatory framework, standards, and the role of the PCAOB.

Academic Journals and Research Papers:

  1. Journal of Accounting Research – This prestigious academic journal publishes research papers on auditing, accounting regulations, and related topics, offering in-depth analysis and insights from leading scholars in the field.
  2. Journal of International Accounting Research – Focusing on international accounting practices, this journal features research articles that explore the impact of regulatory bodies like the PCAOB on global auditing standards.

Reports and Studies:

  1. PCAOB Annual Report – The annual reports published by the PCAOB provide detailed information on the organization’s activities, achievements, inspection results, and strategic plans. These reports offer valuable insights into the PCAOB’s initiatives and their impact.
  2. The Economic Implications of Auditing – This report by the National Academies Press examines the economic consequences of auditing, including the role of the PCAOB in enhancing audit quality and investor confidence.

Professional Organizations and Associations:

  1. American Institute of Certified Public Accountants (AICPA) – As the leading professional association for CPAs, the AICPA provides resources, publications, and updates on auditing standards and best practices, including those influenced by the PCAOB.
  2. Financial Accounting Standards Board (FASB) – The FASB develops and updates accounting standards in the United States. Their website offers guidance on financial reporting and auditing, which aligns with the PCAOB’s regulations.

These resources will provide authoritative information and valuable insights for readers seeking further understanding of the Public Company Accounting Oversight Board (PCAOB), its role in auditing, and its impact on the financial industry.