Why did management and auditors fail to identify ineffective internal controls in their initial SOX 404 reviews?

Kam C. Chan (Lubin School of Business, Pace University, Pleasantville, New York, USA)
Picheng Lee (Lubin School of Business, Pace University, Pleasantville, New York, USA)
Gim S. Seow (Department of Accounting, University of Connecticut, Storrs, Connecticut, USA)

Review of Accounting and Finance

ISSN: 1475-7702

Publication date: 31 October 2008

Abstract

Purpose

The purpose of this paper is to investigate the rationale for the failure of management and auditors to identify material internal control weaknesses (ICWs) in their initial Sarbanes‐Oxley Act of 2002 (SOX) 404 reviews, resulting in subsequent restatement of their opinions.

Design/methodology/approach

The paper focuses on the factors associated with the failure of management and auditor to identify material internal controls weaknesses in their initial SOX 404 reports. Logistic regression is run on a sample of 56 firms that reported material internal controls weaknesses in their amended internal control reports and a control group of 344 firms that reported material internal controls weaknesses (i.e. ineffective internal controls) in their initial internal control reports for 2004.

Findings

The results show that firm size, the use of a Big 4 auditor, the ratio of non‐audit to total fees, and the need for accounting restatements are positively associated with the probability to file an amended internal control report. The number of ICWs and the number of audit committee meetings are negatively associated with the probability to file an amended internal control report.

Practical implications

The paper's findings suggest that regulators and corporate boards should consider providing more guidelines on audit committee practices in addition to the audit committee structure. For example, more guidance by the board is needed to ensure that the audit committee is active in overseeing the company's auditor–client relationship and its internal audit function.

Originality/value

Empirical findings on factors associated with the failure of management and auditor to identify material ICWs in their SOX 404 review can contribute to an understanding of factors affecting the efficiency of the SOX 404 review by attributing such failure to either inherent factors such as operational complexity and industry membership or to managerial choices in auditor‐client relationship and corporate governance issues. An understanding of these factors can help companies and the Public Company Accounting Oversight Board and the Securities and Exchange Commission in their efforts to improve the effectiveness and the efficiency of the current SOX 404 process.

Keywords

Citation

Chan, K., Lee, P. and Seow, G. (2008), "Why did management and auditors fail to identify ineffective internal controls in their initial SOX 404 reviews?", Review of Accounting and Finance, Vol. 7 No. 4, pp. 338-354. https://doi.org/10.1108/14757700810920757

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Publisher

:

Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2008, Emerald Group Publishing Limited

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