DOL chief accountant: Do what you do best

Written on Apr 28, 2016

OSCPA staff report

Improving audit quality begins with auditors sticking to what they do best, the U.S. Department of Labor’s top accountant told a crowd last week at an OSCPA event.

Ian Dingwall, CPA, chief accountant with the DOL, spoke at the Employee Benefit Plan Audit Conference in Columbus, as he has for more than a decade. In his comments, he discussed last year’s audit quality study, and explained why this was his final visit to the conference.

Dingwall reiterated what he told OSCPA last month: employee benefit plan audits are not for wimps. That’s for a variety of reasons, including:

  • They’re mandated by law.
  • They’re heavily regulated.
  • They’re hard to do.
  • Accountants typically don’t receive more than a class or two of training.
  • Participants and beneficiaries – not the plan sponsors – are the clients.

Partly in response to the report, Dingwall said, the DOL last week sent letters to firms in Ohio and elsewhere “asking them to hire good auditors.”

“The short version of the letter is, ‘Do what you do best,’” he said. “You are certified public accountants, doing some work on behalf of the public. And so, we're reminding your partners of that.”

The objectives of the letter are to be sure plan administrators hire good auditors and those who conduct audits keep a keen eye on quality.

In addition to the letters, Dingwall said the Department of Labor is:

  • Communicating with state boards, plan administrators and auditors.
  • Making direct referrals to state boards of accountancy in addition to the AICPA Professional Ethics Division.
  • Continuing to review EBP audit work papers and perform larger firm inspections.

He said Ohio is one of a handful of states the DOL is paying special attention to because “there are so many plans in Ohio – so many old plans that have a lot of money in them.”

Finally, Dingwall said he is retiring from his post in December, a decision that gives him “mixed feelings.”

“After 42 years of government service, I am finally told by my wife that I must retire. I might give other reasons, but that’s the real reason,” he said. “… I will miss the associations I have, including the one with The Ohio Society of CPAs.”

More from Ian Dingwall at the EBPA Conference

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