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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

SEC to Give Accounting Board $4M

WASHINGTON -- The private foundation that funds the U.S. accounting standards board voted Tuesday to give it as much as $4 million to keep operating until a new congressionally mandated funding mechanism is implemented.

The U.S. Congress authorized the Securities and Exchange Commission last year to collect fees from all public companies to help fund the Financial Accounting Standards Board because lawmakers no longer wanted the board to have to rely on voluntary contributions from corporations and auditors.

But until the SEC figures out how to collect the fees, required by the Sarbanes-Oxley corporate reform legislation, the board remains in budget limbo, its ability to hire additional staff for an ambitious agenda restricted. "It's very much a concern," said Judith O'Dell, a trustee and treasurer of the foundation that oversees the board.

After accounting scandals triggered the collapse of Enron Corp. and other companies, the board was criticized for being too close to the corporations it had to depend on for funding. The board is supposed to decide by the end of March whether to require companies to treat stock options as expenses, a controversial issue it has proposed previously and had to withdraw because of pressure from Congress. It also agreed last year to take up projects to eliminate the major differences between U.S. and international accounting rules and to study a move toward accounting based more on principles than strict rules.

Last year, about one-third of the board's $24 million budget came from corporate and auditor contributions. The rest was from sales of publications. Now the board is required to submit a copy of its budget to the SEC for review. Board spokeswoman Sheryl Thompson said this year's budget increased to $25.6 million, but she declined to provide a copy.