Wednesday, February 23, 2011

The Myth of FASB Due Process: And the Fact of Undue Influence

Via The Accounting Onion. 
So the first point I want to make is that "due process" as a description of the FASB's policies is a misnomer. The FASB's use (along with that of the monkey-see-monkey-do IASB) of the term is merely another instance of its tactical use of weasel words and phrases to cast an aura of gravitas on a process without having to actually specify that process in any significant detail. Of course, the guarantees of due process in law are highly specified, even though they may be intensely debated. Among other things, they consist of the right to a full and fair trial, governed by rules of evidence, impartiality, burden of proof, etc.
There are no real rules for due process at the FASB, like we see in the law: rules of evidence, decision criteria, etc. All we are provided by the FASB's Rules of Procedure (page 5) are vague statements that pretty much allow the FASB to do what it wants, when it wants. Maybe a new standard will be evidenced-based, or maybe it won't. Maybe a new standard will be consistent with the concepts statements (although those are also like nailing jell-o to a tree), or maybe it won't.
And, in case you're wondering, the term due process is nowhere to be found in the securities laws or in the way the SEC, the main source of the FASB's legitimacy, describes its own rulemaking activities.  The SEC simply states that "the Commissioners consider what they have learned from the public exposure of the proposed rule, and seek to agree on the specifics of a final rule." In other words, SEC evaluation of public comments is not part of a "due process" (or a democratic process) but simply purports to be a learning process.
Click Here to Read: The Myth of FASB Due Process: And the Fact of Undue Influence

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