I fully support the Board's new five-year Strategic Plan (Plan) and associated Budget.
Like all of us, I am passionate about the importance of relevant and reliable financial information to the integrity of our public capital markets. Independent and high quality audits are an essential tool in ensuring trustworthy financial reporting, and the PCAOB plays a critical role in driving continuous improvement in audit quality.
The process to develop the Plan before us today has been thoughtful, collaborative and inclusive. Indeed, the unprecedented outreach for input across all of our stakeholders has been invaluable in focusing us on the most relevant challenges and opportunities we face. Thank you to everyone that has contributed.
I believe the Plan's goals and objectives are responsive to the insights we have gained. They lay out the path forward, in the current environment, for fulfilling our audit oversight mandate to protect investors and further the public interest.
Several elements that I view as particularly important include:
- Our consideration of promoting audit quality, from a preventative standpoint, through improvements in firm quality control systems and the sharing of successful audit practices;
- Our focus on improving the timeliness and relevance of information and perspectives we share about audit quality;
- Our commitment to more effective stakeholder engagement, particularly with investors, audit committees and preparers, and to continued engagement with other audit regulators internationally; and
- Our evaluation of opportunities and risks associated with innovations in data analytics and technologies, and of the implications for audits and our own oversight activities.
Because we cannot succeed without our incredibly dedicated and talented Staff, a foundational goal is our commitment to further develop, empower and meaningfully engage our people and cultivate a high-integrity, collaborative and inclusive culture.
Achieving our strategic objectives is enabled through our programs, operations and transformation initiatives. I have critically reviewed the associated spending amounts reflected in the 2019 Budget, which in my view are appropriate relative to the strategies we are pursuing and risks we face. For example, the 2019 Budget reflects prudent increased investments in the areas of risk management, data management, and information security.
As stewards of the fees collected to fund our efforts, it is important we operate as effectively and efficiently as possible. In fact, our Plan calls for optimizing our internal processes and information technology investments going forward.
We will continue to gain new insights regarding our programs and operations as we execute against the new Plan, which will further inform our resource needs for future years.
Participating in this year's planning process has been an illuminating and rewarding experience. Thanks to each of my fellow Board members, and to the PCAOB management team, for sharing your knowledge and perspectives. And thanks to the full Staff for your contributions in operationalizing the new Plan and preparing the 2019 Budget.
I would also like to thank the SEC for their support and input as the five of us worked through this process for the first time; and to recognize and express appreciation to the PCAOB's prior Boards and Staffs, whose contributions and achievements over the past 15 years provide us a firm foundation on which to advance our mission.