The PCAOB has released its 2009 Inspection Report for Deloitte and out of 73 audits inspected, 15 deficiencies were cited in this year's review.
The Board writes that deficiencies are "failures by the Firm to identify or appropriately address errors in the issuer's application of GAAP, including, in some cases, errors that appeared likely to be material to the issuer's financial statements. In addition, the deficiencies included failures by the Firm to perform, or to perform sufficiently, certain necessary audit procedures."
Issues cited by the PCAOB in the report included goodwill impairment, deferred tax assets, inventory valuation, a failure to identify a "departure from GAAP," among others. The Big 4 Blog rightly notes that this is the first time that the PCAOB has provided the sample size of the inspections which allows for some surprising error rates:
The error rate in this situation is quite high, almost one of every five audits has errors. Obviously, Deloitte performs thousands of audit each year and extrapolating from a small sample is quite dangerous, nonetheless, even at half of 20%, the natural conclusion is that one in ten audits has an error, and would have gone unnoticed had not the PCAOB done a good post-audit on the audit.
You could really make a fuss about what auditors did and did not do but the fact remains, audits are never perfect. Some are just more unperfect than others. What's especially interesting is how Deloitte's attitude has changed with regards to the PCAOB's findings as compared to last year.
In last year's inspection report, the Board cited seven audit deficiencies which resulted in a three page letter from Deloitte that, in no uncertain terms, told the PCAOB to get bent and keep their Monday Morning QBing to themselves. This was about as an aggressive of a response from an accounting firm as we had seen so it was definitely a surprise to see a firm lose their cool.
This year, despite the fact that Deloitte was cited for over twice as many deficiencies, the firm is considerably less defensive (read: boring) and put together a concise one page response to the Board's findings that included the following:
"We have evaluated the matters identified by the Board’s inspection team for each of the Issuer audits described in Part I of the Draft Report and have taken actions as appropriate in accordance with D&T’s policies and PCAOB standards."
It's nice to see the firm playing nice with their regulator this year but we're curious as to how the change in attitude came about. We hope that at least one of the remaining Big 4 will include a little more color in their response.