The purpose of the Center of Audit Quality (CAQ) is to enhance investor confidence and public trust in the global capital markets by fostering high-quality performance by public company auditors. The CAQ, through its Research Advisory Board (RAB), annually awards grants to fund auditing-related scholarly academic research that can have important, real-world impact on audit quality and the future of auditing. Visit Center for Audit Quality to learn more about the grant. The RAB is comprised of representatives from academia and the profession. The grant program is highly selective, with only a few grant proposals being selected each year for funding. During the RAB 2021 grant cycle, the only proposal funded was coauthored by Lauren Cunningham of University of Tennessee, Sarah Stein, Kimberly Walker and Karneisha Wolfe, all from Virginia Tech’s Department of Accounting and Information Systems.  Their winning proposal is entitled “The Evolving Responsibilities of the Audit Committee” *

The enactment of SOX requires audit committees to be directly responsible for appointing, compensating, and overseeing the company’s independent auditor and monitoring the quality of the financial reporting process. In many cases, the audit committee also takes on additional roles such as ensuring the company is meeting strategic and operational goals, supervising the risk oversight process, and overseeing the internal audit function. More recently, many boards have tasked audit committees with additional oversight and advising responsibilities.

While information regarding audit committees’ responsibilities is informative to companies’ stakeholders, audit committees’ public disclosures relating to their responsibilities vary. The goal in this study is to interview audit committee members that serve publicly traded companies in the U.S. to learn more about their experiences—including their evolving responsibilities—in order to aggregate best practices and challenges to share with others. Along with insight into these evolving responsibilities, the authors expect that their study will provide insight into how audit committees determine what to publicly disclose about their responsibilities along with how they evaluate their performance in this role.

 *The name of the project has been updated from what is listed on the CAQ RAB site.