The concept release before the Board today reflects extensive outreach to stakeholders and experts to identify information that could help the users of public company audit services to assess the quality of an audit.
Today, important aspects of audits are behind the scenes; little is known other than the name of the firm that conducted it and the fee. In an environment where all audits look alike on paper, it should be no surprise that there is considerable pressure and competition on the basis of fees. With more information about the inputs to audits, I hope to balance that pressure with more competition on quality as well.
Make no mistake: we are not proposing that one could apply a single or even a set of formulae to gain assurance that an audit is infallible. But the idea behind these measures, as with our other transparency initiatives, is that disclosure helps users differentiate among choices, including choices about the kind of audit they want.
As with our transparency project to disclose the name of the engagement partner and other firms, some of these potential measures may be useful to market participants to differentiate audit quality. In addition, we have also sought to identify information that could be useful to audit committees in overseeing the work of their own companies' auditors. Today's concept release is an important step in our exploration of ways to help audit committees.
Some of the potential measures discussed in the concept release are based on tools we understand some audit committees have already designed and use effectively in their oversight. Others are measures that we have found useful in our oversight.
All of the proposed measures are based on more than two years of extensive research and outreach by our Office of Research and Analysis and others.
We have had three discussions with our Standing Advisory Group about the project to obtain members' reactions and insights. We have discussed the project with our Investor Advisory Group. And staff in our Office of Research and Analysis have had numerous additional meetings and discussions with a full range of other stakeholders, including audit committee members, firms and their representatives, investors, academics and others.
I want to thank Greg Jonas, Director of our Office of Research and Analysis, for his leadership in bringing this important project to this point. Greg's vision for finding ways that we can help audit committees identify and support audit quality have been critical to this project and contributed more broadly to initiatives throughout the PCAOB.
I would also like to thank the staff of the SEC, in particular Brian Croteau, Kevin Stout and Khalid Shah, for their support and valuable input to the project.
We have a long public comment period, given the newness, breadth and nature of the proposed measures. I look forward to reaching an even broader cross-section of people with insights and advice as we hone these measures. I also look forward to advice from audit committees that have employed these measures, or other measures that merit consideration.
After the comment period, we expect to have a public meeting to explore opinion and advice even more deeply. At that time, we will reopen the comment period in order, again, to solicit public views.