They really, really, really don’t appreciate it when you blow off their recommendations. Here’s the statement from the Board:
The Public Company Accounting Oversight Board, in anticipation of questions about the publication of previously nonpublic portions of its May 19, 2008 inspection report on Deloitte & Touche LLP, issued the following statement today:
“The quality control remediation process is central to the Board’s efforts to cause firms to improve the quality of their audits and thereby better protect investors. The Board therefore takes very seriously the importance of firms making sufficient progress on quality control issues identified in an inspection report in the 12 months following the report. Particularly with the largest firms, which are inspected annually, the Board devotes considerable time and resources to critically evaluating whether the firm did in fact make sufficient progress in that period. The Board can and does make the relevant criticisms public when a firm has failed to do so.”
So to clarify, Deloitte had until May 19, 2009 to get their methods up to par but failed to do so. To put this into a little bit of context, Jim Doty was not yet the Chair of the PCAOB and Barry Salzberg was still the CEO of Deloitte’s U.S. firm. Does this mean that the PCAOB has been stepping up its game and this is the first instance of many to come? Hard to say but the audits that this inspection report cover are nearly five years old, so it’s debatable as to the value of Part II being made public now.
For Deloitte’s part, here’s current CEO Joe Echevarria’s statement:
“Deloitte is committed to the highest standards of audit quality and as newly elected CEO, it is my foremost priority. Our commitment extends from the top and cascades throughout our entire organization. We place great value on the PCAOB’s input and continue to work with the Board in support of our shared objectives. We recognize that audit quality is fundamental to protecting investors and ensuring the effective functioning of the capital markets.
“We have complete confidence in our professionals and the quality of our audits, and agree that there were and always will be areas where we can improve. In our drive for continuous improvement, we have been making a series of investments focused on strengthening and improving our practice, and will continue to do so to make Deloitte the standard for audit quality.”
In other words, a non-response response. However, it’s much more measured than Deloitte’s response to the initial release of the report. Their response letter spelled out their feelings quite clearly:
Professional judgments of reasonable and highly competent people may differ as to the nature and extent of necessary auditing procedures,conclusions reached and required documentation. We believe that reasonable judgments should not be second guessed and therefore disagree with a number of comments as indicated[.]
Deloitte’s letter is located Appendix C. You can read the full report, including all the details from Part II that were previously unpublished, on page 2.