The role of the Audit Committee is to oversee the accounting and financial reporting processes of the Company and the audits of the financial statements of the Company.
The Audit Committee shall also prepare the report required by the rules of the Securities and Exchange Commission (the "SEC") to be included in the Company's annual proxy statement.
The Audit Committee shall consist of three or more members of the Board of Directors (the "Board"), each of whom is determined by the Board to be "independent" under Section 10A(m)(3) of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934 (the "Exchange Act"), the rules of the Nasdaq Stock Market and the rules and regulations of the SEC.
All members of the Audit Committee must be able to read and understand financial statements at the time of their appointment. At least one member of the Audit Committee must have past employment experience in finance or accounting, requisite professional certification in accounting or any other comparable experience or background that results in the individual's financial sophistication, including being or having been a chief executive officer, chief financial officer or other senior officer with financial oversight responsibilities.
Appointment and Removal
The members of the Audit Committee shall be appointed by the Board upon the recommendation of the Nomination and Governance Committee and shall serve until such member's successor is duly elected and qualified or until such member's earlier resignation or removal. The members of the Audit Committee may be removed, with or without cause, by a majority vote of the Board.
Unless a Chairperson is elected by the full Board upon recommendation of the Nomination and Governance Committee, the members of the Audit Committee shall designate a Chairperson by the majority vote of the full Audit Committee membership. The Chairperson will chair all regular sessions of the Audit Committee and set the agenda for Audit Committee meetings.
Delegation to Subcommittees
In fulfilling its responsibilities, the Audit Committee shall be entitled to delegate any or all of its responsibilities to a subcommittee of the Audit Committee.
The Audit Committee shall meet as often as it determines but no less than once per quarter, either in person or telephonically, and at such times and places as the Audit Committee shall determine. The Audit Committee should meet regularly with each of management, the principal internal auditor of the Company and the outside auditing firm in separate executive sessions to discuss any matters that the Audit Committee or either of these groups believe should be discussed privately. In addition, the Audit Committee or its chairperson should meet with the independent auditors and management quarterly to review the Company's financial statements.
Relationship with Independent Accountants
The Audit Committee shall be directly responsible, in its capacity as a committee of the Board, for the appointment, compensation, retention and oversight of the outside auditing firm. In this regard, the Audit Committee shall have the sole authority to (A) appoint and retain, (B) determine the funding for, and (C) when appropriate, terminate, the outside auditing firm, which shall report directly to the Audit Committee. The Audit Committee will be responsible for resolving any disputes between the independent accountants and the Company's management.
Duties and Responsibilities
To fulfill its responsibilities and duties the Audit Committee shall:
A. Financial Reporting Processes and Documents/Reports Review
1. Review and discuss with the outside auditing firm: (A) the scope of the audit, the results of the annual audit examination by the auditor and any accompanying management letters, (B) any audit problems or difficulties the auditor encountered in the course of their audit work, including any restrictions on the scope of the outside auditing firm's activities or on access to requested information, and any significant disagreements with management and management's response to such audit problems or difficulties, and (C) any reports of the outside auditing firm with respect to interim periods.
2. Review and discuss with management and the outside auditing firm the annual audited and quarterly unaudited financial statements of the Company, including (A) analyses of management and/or the outside auditor setting forth significant financial reporting issues and judgments made in connection with the preparation of the financial statements, including analyses of the effects of alternative GAAP methods on the financial statements, (B) the Company's disclosures under "Management's Discussion and Analysis of Financial Condition and Results of Operations," including the development, selection and reporting of accounting policies that may be regarded as critical, and (C) major issues regarding the Company's accounting principles and financial statement presentations, including any significant changes in the Company's selection or application of accounting principles and financial statement presentations.
3. Recommend to the Board whether the financial statements should be included in the Annual Report on Form 10-K.
4. Periodically review and discuss the adequacy of the Company's internal controls, any significant deficiencies in internal controls (and any special audit steps adopted in light of material control deficiencies), and significant changes in such controls; and review and discuss with the principal internal auditor of the Company and such others as the Audit Committee deems appropriate, the scope and results of the internal audit program.
5. Periodically review and discuss the adequacy and effectiveness of the Company's disclosure controls and procedures and management reports thereon.
6. Review disclosures made to the Audit Committee by the Company's Chief Executive Officer and Chief Financial Officer during their certification process for the Form 10-K and 10-Q about any significant deficiencies in the design or operation of internal controls or material weaknesses therein and any fraud involving management or other employees who have a significant role in the Company's internal controls.
7. Review and timely discuss with management and the outside auditors the effect of regulatory and accounting initiatives, as well as any material financial or non-financial arrangements of the Company that do not appear on the financial statements of the Company.
8. Review and discuss with the independent auditors their report regarding (A) all critical accounting policies and practices to be used, (B) all alternative treatments of financial information within generally accepted accounting principles that have been discussed with management officials of the Company, ramifications of the use of such alternative disclosures and treatments, and the treatment preferred by the independent auditors, and (C) other material written communications between the outside auditing firm and Company management, including a schedule of unadjusted differences.
9. Review with financial management and the independent accountants the Company's filings with the SEC prior to their filing or prior to the release of earnings reports. The Chair of the Audit Committee may represent the entire Audit Committee for purposes of this review.
10. Prepare all reports required to be included in the Company's proxy statement, pursuant to and in accordance with applicable rules and regulations of the SEC.
11. Discuss and review earnings press releases, including the type and presentation of information to be included in earnings press releases, in particular the use of "pro forma" or "adjusted" non-GAAP information.
12. Discuss and review financial information and earnings guidance provided to analysts and rating agencies.
13. Discuss policies with respect to risk assessment and risk management.
B. Independent Accountants
1. Approve in advance all audit, review or attest engagements required under the securities laws to be provided by the outside auditing firm, including fees and terms.
2. Establish policies and procedures for the engagement of the outside auditing firm to provide permissible non-audit services, which shall require preapproval by the Audit Committee (other than with respect to de minimis exceptions described in Section 10A(i)(1)(B) of the Exchange Act that are approved by the Audit Committee prior to the completion of the audit). Ensure that approval of non-audit services are disclosed to investors in periodic reports required by Section 13(a) of the Exchange Act.
3. The authority to grant preapproval of audit and non-audit services may be delegated to one or more designated members of the audit committee who are independent directors. Any such delegation shall be presented to the full Audit Committee at its next scheduled meeting.
4. Review, at least annually, a report by the outside auditor describing (A) the firm's internal quality-control procedures, (B) any material issues raised by the most recent internal quality-control review, or peer review, of the firm, or by any inquiry or investigation by governmental or professional authorities, within the last five years, respecting one or more independent audits carried out by the firm, and any steps taken to deal with any such issues, and (C) all relationships between the independent auditor and the Company.
5. In connection with the report review described in the previous paragraph, review and evaluate the lead partner of the outside auditor and present to the Board the Audit Committee's conclusions with respect to the qualifications and performance of the outside auditing firm.
6. Consider, at least annually, the independence of the outside auditing firm, including whether the outside auditing firm's performance of permissible non-audit services is compatible with the auditor's independence; obtain and review the report by the outside auditing firm describing any relationships between the outside auditing firm and the Company referred to in paragraph four above or any relationships between the outside auditing firm and the Company or any other relationships that may adversely affect the independence of the auditor; discuss with the outside auditing firm any disclosed relationship or services that may impact the objectivity and independence of the auditor; and present to the Board the Audit Committee's conclusions with respect to the independence of the outside auditing firm.
7. Ensure rotation of the audit partners as required by law and consider further whether, to assure continuing auditor independence, there should be a regular rotation of the outside audit firm itself.
8. Establish policies for the hiring of employees and former employees of the outside auditing firm.
C. Outside Advisors. The Audit Committee shall have the authority to retain such outside counsel, accountants, experts and other advisors as it determines appropriate to assist the Audit Committee in the performance of its duties. The Audit Committee shall have sole authority to approve related fees and retention terms.
D. Ethical and Legal Compliance
1. Establish, review and update periodically a code of business ethics and conduct that applies to the Company's employees and directors, and ensure that management has established a system to enforce the code of ethics. The code must be publicly available and waivers for executive officers and directors granted and disclosed in accordance with applicable law.
2. Review and approve, if the duty is not delegated to a comparable body of the Board, all related party transactions in accordance with the regulations of Nasdaq.
3. Review, with the Company's counsel, any legal matter that could have a significant impact on the Company's financial statements.
4. Establish procedures for the receipt, retention and treatment of complaints received by the Company regarding accounting, internal accounting controls or auditing matters, including procedures for confidential, anonymous submission of concerns by employees regarding accounting and auditing matters.
5. Perform any other activities consistent with this Charter, the Company's bylaws and governing law, as the Audit Committee or the Board deems necessary or appropriate.
and Performance Review
The Audit Committee shall report its actions and any recommendations to the Board after each Audit Committee meeting and shall conduct and present to the Board an annual performance evaluation of the Audit Committee. The Audit Committee shall review at least annually the adequacy of this Charter and recommend any proposed changes to the Board for approval.
Limitation of Audit Committee's Role
While the Audit Committee has the responsibilities and powers set forth in this Charter, it is not the duty of the Audit Committee to plan or conduct audits or to determine that the Company's financial statements and disclosures are complete and accurate and are in accordance with generally accepted accounting principles and applicable rules and regulations. These are the responsibilities of management and the outside auditor.
Disclosure of Charter
This Charter will be made available in accordance with applicable rules and regulations.
Adopted by Resolution of the Board of Directors