The Committee will represent and assist the Board in fulfilling its oversight responsibility to the shareowners and others relating to the integrity of the Company's financial statements and the financial reporting process, the systems of internal accounting and financial controls, the internal audit function, the annual independent audit of the Company's financial statements, the Company's compliance with legal and regulatory requirements, and its ethics programs as established by management and the Board, including the Company's Code of Business Conduct. The Committee shall also oversee the independent auditors' qualifications and independence. The Committee will evaluate the performance of the Company's internal audit function (responsibilities, budget and staffing) and the Company's independent auditors, including a review and evaluation of the engagement partner and coordinating partner. In so doing, it is the responsibility of the Committee to maintain free and open communication between the Committee, independent auditors, the internal auditors and management of the Company. The Committee is also responsible for producing an annual report for inclusion in the Company's proxy statement.
Committee Authority and Responsibilities
The following shall be the principal recurring processes of the Committee in carrying out its oversight responsibilities. The Committee may perform such other duties and responsibilities as are consistent with its purpose and as the Board or the Committee deems appropriate.
1. Independent Auditors. The Committee shall have a clear understanding with management and the independent auditors that the independent auditors are ultimately accountable to the Committee and the Board, as representatives of the Company's shareowners. The Committee shall have the sole authority and responsibility to hire, evaluate and, where appropriate, replace the independent auditors and, in its capacity as a committee of the Board, shall be directly responsible for the appointment, compensation and general oversight of the work of the independent auditors. The Committee shall discuss the auditors' qualifications and independence from management and the Company, including whether the auditors' performance of permissible non-audit services is compatible with their independence. This process will include, at least annually, the Committee's review of the independent auditors' internal control procedures, any material issues raised by the most recent internal quality-control review, or peer review, of the independent auditors, or by any inquiry or investigation by governmental or professional authorities, within the preceding five years, respecting one or more independent audits carried out by the independent auditors, and any steps taken to deal with any such issues; and (to assess the auditors' independence) all relationships between the independent auditors and the Company. Annually, the Committee will review the qualifications and performance of the Company's current independent auditors, and select the Company's independent auditors for the next year, subject to shareowner ratification.
2. Audit Services. The Committee shall discuss with the internal auditors and the independent auditors the overall scope and plans for their respective audits including their respective responsibilities and the adequacy of staffing and compensation. The Committee shall approve in advance all audit engagement fees and the terms of all audit services to be provided by the independent auditors.
3. Permissible Non-audit Services; Pre-Approval Policy. The Committee shall approve in advance all permissible non-audit services to be provided by the independent auditors. The Committee shall establish policies and procedures for the engagement of the independent auditors to provide permissible audit and non-audit services. No non-audit services shall be provided by the independent auditors, except as approved in advance by the Committee.
4. Review of Interim Financial Statements and Earnings Releases. The Committee shall meet and review the interim financial statements, and the Company's disclosures under Management's Discussion and Analysis of Financial Condition and Results of Operations, with management and the independent auditors prior to the filing of each of the Company's Quarterly Reports on Form 1O-Q. The Committee will discuss the Company's policies and procedures with respect to earnings releases and review financial information included in releases and earnings guidance provided to analysts and rating agencies. The Committee will discuss the results of the quarterly review and any other matters required to be communicated to the Committee by the independent auditors under generally accepted auditing standards.
5. Review of Annual Audited Financial Statements. The Committee shall meet and review with management and the independent auditors the financial statements to be included in the Company's Annual Report on Form 10-K (or the annual report to shareowners if distributed prior to the filing of the Form 10-K), including (a) their judgment about the quality, not just acceptability, of the Company's accounting principles, including significant financial reporting issues and judgments made in connection with the preparation of the financial statements; (b) the clarity of the disclosures in the financial statements; and (c) the Company's disclosures under Management's Discussion and Analysis of Financial Condition and Results of Operations, including critical accounting policies.
The Committee will also review with management and the independent auditors (a) major issues regarding accounting principles and financial statement presentations, including significant changes in the selection or application of accounting principles; (b) major issues regarding the adequacy of internal controls and steps taken in light of material deficiencies; and, (c) the effects of regulatory and accounting initiatives on the financial statements.
The Committee will discuss: (a) the results of the annual audit; (b) any difficulties the independent auditors encountered in the course of their audit work, including any restrictions on the scope of the auditors' activities or on access to requested information, and any significant disagreements with management; and (c) management's response to any difficulties encountered in the course of the auditors' audit work. The Committee will also discuss any other matters required to be communicated to the Committee by the independent auditors under generally accepted auditing standards, and the annual report on internal controls by the Chief Executive Officer and Chief Financial Officer, as reviewed by the independent auditors.
Based on these reviews, the Committee will make a recommendation to the Board as to whether the audited financial statements should be included in the Company's Annual Report on Form 10-K.
6. Risk Assessment and Risk Management. The Committee will review and discuss with management, the internal auditors, and the independent auditors the Company's policies and procedures with respect to risk assessment and risk management.
7. Internal Controls, Disclosure Controls and Procedures. The Committee will discuss with management, the internal auditors, and the independent auditors the Company's internal controls (with particular emphasis on the scope and performance of the internal audit function), and review and discuss with the internal auditors the results of the internal audit program. The Committee will review and discuss the Company's disclosure controls and procedures, and the quarterly assessments of such controls and procedures by the Chief Executive Officer and Chief Financial Officer.
8. Complaint Procedures. The Committee shall establish and oversee procedures for handling complaints regarding accounting, internal accounting controls, and auditing matters, including procedures for confidential, anonymous submission of concerns by employees regarding accounting and auditing matters.
9. Compliance Programs. The Committee shall periodically review and discuss with management, the internal auditors, and the independent auditors the overall adequacy and effectiveness of the Company's legal, regulatory and ethical compliance programs, including the Company's Code of Business Conduct.
10. Report for Inclusion in Proxy Statement. The Committee shall prepare the report that SEC rules require to be included in the Company's annual proxy statement.
11. Hiring of Auditor Personnel. The Committee shall set hiring policies with regard to employees and former employees of the independent auditors.
12. Charter. The Committee shall annually review and reassess the adequacy of this Charter and recommend any proposed changes to the Board for approval.
13. Annual Performance Evaluation. The Committee shall annually review its own performance.
14. Investigative Authority. In discharging its oversight role, the Committee is empowered to investigate any matter brought to its attention with full access to all books, records, facilities and personnel of the Company.
The Committee shall report to the Board with respect to its meetings,
including any significant issues that arise with respect to the quality or
integrity of the Company's financial statements, the Company's compliance
with legal or regulatory requirements, the performance and independence of
the Company's independent auditors, or the performance of the internal