Statement on the PCAOB 2018-2022 Strategic Plan and 2019 Budget

Nov. 15, 2018
J. Robert Brown, Jr, Board Member
PCAOB Open Board Meeting

I want to begin by applauding the PCAOB staff. We are undertaking a significant transition, which has, I think, created challenges and required that staff take on increased responsibilities. Yet, as will be no surprise to anyone who has interacted with the PCAOB, our staff has risen to the challenge. This budget I hope will support their hard work, including their commitment to the transformation of the PCAOB.

The proposed 2019 budget reflects careful consideration of the resources we, as an organization, need to carry out our statutory mission to protect the interests of investors and the public interest. This budget includes an investment in human capital in the form of increased training opportunities as well as an increased headcount. With respect to the increase in headcount, some of that comes in the form of newly created positions such as a Chief Compliance Officer, a Chief Information Security Officer, and a Chief Risk Officer. The budget will also add liaison positions that will conduct outreach to our stakeholders, including investors. I fully support all of this.

Shifting to the strategic plan, among the many strengths is the commitment to accessibility and transparency. That we made the draft Strategic Plan available for comment was perhaps our first obvious example of increased transparency. We are also working hard to improve the quality of our external communications. But transparency means more than inviting comments or improving the quality of the information that we push out.

At the recent meeting of the Investor Advisory Group held last week, one of the members described the thinking of the PCAOB as sometimes "completely opaque."[1] We must take steps to reduce this opaqueness. We can do so by becoming more open with respect to our operations and with respect to the information that we collect and produce.

Looking at the latter, we have already seen the benefits that can arise when we make our data available to the public in a readily searchable format. AuditorSearch, our most recent endeavor in this space, provides access to the information contained in our newly issued Form AP. This Form discloses, among other things, the identity of the engagement partner and other auditors used by a firm. The entire database has been downloaded more 9,600 times. AuditorSearch has been used to conduct more than 730,000 searches. The data has been employed by investors, academics and other researchers.

We need over the next year to focus on improving our transparency and reducing our opaqueness. I look forward to these discussions and to advice on this topic that anyone might provide.

I would like to thank the PCAOB and SEC staff for their hard work on this budget and approve its submission to the SEC.

[1] Comments by Damon Silvers, IAG Meeting, Nov. 8, 2018, at 2:15.19, available at