I would like to make a brief statement about one additional matter. That matter is the establishment of a new Office of Outreach and Small Business Liaison.
As we have already discussed today, the Dodd-Frank Act vested the Board with authority over the auditors of all SEC-registered securities brokers and dealers. The great majority of the more than 500 additional accounting firms that have registered with the Board because they perform broker-dealer audits are, like their broker-dealer clients, small businesses.
Since beginning operations, the Board has sought to maintain open lines of communication with the small business community. However, in light of the Board's new authority, and the large number of smaller accounting firms and broker-dealers that will be affected by it, the Board has reassessed its communications and outreach strategy. As a result, the Board has decided to establish an Office of Outreach and Small Business Liaison. This new office will act as a point of contact and communication between the Board and any PCAOB-registered public accounting firm, or any other person, affected by the Board's regulatory activities, including in particular those in the small business community. In October, the Board asked the Securities and Exchange Commission to approve the formation of this new office. On December 10, the Commission issued an order approving the Board's request.
The new Office of Outreach will be responsible for planning and conducting a program of small business forums, including both the Board's existing Forums on Auditing in the Small Business Environment and new forums directed to the smaller broker-dealer and broker-dealer auditor communities. The Office will also seek input from the small business community, including public companies, brokers, and others, on issues related to the Board’s work. The Office will serve as a communication channel for anyone with questions about the Board's activities and will be charged with identifying areas where information related to Board work is not well understood and suggesting action to address the issue.
The Director of the Office of Outreach and Small Business Liaison will report directly to the Board’s Chairman. I am pleased to announce that Mary Sjoquist will serve as the Office’s first Director. Mary has been with the Board almost since its inception, first as counsel to Board Member Gradison and then as the Board's Director of Communications. She has been closely involved with issues relating to the small business community throughout her career, which has included working on small business issues as a lawyer in private practice and during her tenure in the SEC's Division of Corporation Finance. She has long played an active role in the Securities Subcommittee of the American Bar Association’s Middle Market and Small Business Committee.
I want to stress that the Board's other communications functions — press relations and government and congressional affairs — will continue to play an active role in the Board's work. These functions, which were part of the Office of Communications, will be reconstituted as separate offices — the Office of Public Affairs and the Office of Government Relations. Colleen Brennan will head the Office of Public Affairs, and Kent Bonham will head the Office of Government Relations.
I believe that this reorganization of our communications group will help to better serve the needs of both the small business community and of others, including investors, who interact with the Board or are affected by its activities. I look forward to working with Mary in her new role.