Ex-Senate Banking Committee Aide Picked for PCAOB

Steven Harris helped draft the legislation that created the board he'll join on June 9.
Kate PlourdJune 4, 2008

Former Senate Banking Committee staffer Steven B. Harris was named to the Public Company Accounting Oversight Board. Harris had helped draft the Sarbanes-Oxley Act that created the auditing industry watchdog board in 2002.

Securities and Exchange Commission chairman Christopher Cox made the announcement of Harris’s selection, saying that his leadership of the Senate committee staff under former chairman Paul Sarbanes, “as well as his private sector experience, have well prepared him to serve as a PCAOB board member.”

Harris is currently senior vice president and special counsel for the public affairs and strategic communications firm APCO Worldwide, a position he has held since March 2007.

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His time in congressional staff roles stretches back to 1981. He served for 15 years as staff director and chief counsel for the Senate Committee on Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs, and also was staff director and chief counsel for the Securities subcommittee. He worked on the committee’s legislation, investigations, and oversight from 1981 to 2007.

Cox said in a press release that the SEC had unanimously agreed on Harris’s appointment to fill the opening created when founding PCAOB member Kayla Gillan stepped down last September. Sarbanes-Oxley dictates that the SEC selects the board chairman and members after consultation with the Treasury Department and the Federal Reserve Board.

Harris officially starts June 9. The board’s other members are chairman Mark W. Olson, Daniel L. Goelzer, Bill Gradison, and Charles D. Niemeier.

“I am greatly honored by the confidence shown in me by the Securities and Exchange Commission and I look forward to working with my colleagues at the PCAOB to protect the interest of investors in the U.S. markets,” Harris said.

Although the non-profit, private-sector board, made up of five members, was created by Sarbanes-Oxley to oversee auditing of U.S. public companies, much has been said lately about its future in the world of international accounting convergence, and what its role might be in a time when auditing standards are converging globally.

That convergence trend hasn’t registered as strongly as it should with U.S. regulators, some experts say. Recently, however, board members including Gradison have addressed the issue, warning that the board is in danger of becoming the only standards writer in the world not connected to international guidelines.