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COSO Unveils Proposed Update on Internal Controls Framework

Tammy Whitehouse | December 19, 2011

Just in time for the holiday reading list, COSO has published a draft of its updated internal control framework, calling on companies that rely on the widely accepted framework to consider how the revised version might work in practice and provide feedback.

The Committee of Sponsoring Organizations of the Treadway Commission updated the nearly 20-year-old framework to modernize it based on more current business issues. The updated framework should help companies adapt to increasing complexity and pace of change, COSO says. It should also help mitigate risks to the achievement of business objectives and provide reliable information to support sound decision-making.

The draft update retains the core definition of internal control and the five components of a system of internal control. The key concepts are timeless, said COSO Chairman David Landsittel in a statement, but changes were necessary to reflect changes in the business and operating environments that have transpired over the past two decades.

One of the most significant enhancements, COSO said, is the codification of internal control concepts introduced in the original framework into 17 principles and supporting attributes. The codification is meant to further support organizations as they apply judgment in managing risk and improving performance.

“The update should allow organizations to more effectively utilize the framework to develop and maintain systems of internal control in support of their long-term success,” Landsittel said. “Effective internal control allows organizations to adapt to a changing business landscape, and obtain confidence that controls mitigate risks to acceptable levels. This is key for the long-term success of any organization.”

The COSO framework is the most widely used in the world to establish a system of internal control, according to Landsittel. The commission engaged PwC to lead the effort to update the framework. The firm engaged a broad range of professionals from industry, academia, government agencies, and nonprofit organizations to gain input on the update. The draft update is open for comment through March 31, with COSO targeting a final release in the fall of 2012.