The Public Company Accounting Oversight Board is allowing those audit firms registered with the agency a maximum 45-day relief period from inspections during the coronavirus pandemic in the hope it will give those firms the “time, resources, and flexibility” to flesh out matters of importance with their issuer and broker-dealer clients.

The board says COVID-19 presents challenges to investors, issuers, auditors, regulators, and dealers. In order to maintain the accuracy and integrity of financial statements during the crisis, it will be operating under two considerations:

  • The health and safety of PCAOB employees and those with whom the regulator interacts; and
  • The agency’s statutory mission to promote audit quality, including by conducting its inspections program.

In a press release Monday, the board said: “We remain steadfast in our commitment to protect investors and the public interest by promoting informative, accurate, and independent audit reports. Audit firms’ adherence to our standards takes on added importance as investors depend now, more than ever, on the integrity of financial statements.”

The PCAOB says it will retain the right to audit documentation for certain engagements during the 45-day extension period, and it will fully resume inspections beginning May 11, 2020.