The primary function of the Audit Committee is to assist the Board of Directors in fulfilling its oversight responsibilities for: (1) the integrity of the Company's statements and other financial information provided to any governmental body, its shareholders or the public; (2) the Company's systems for complying with legal and regulatory requirements; (3) the independent auditor's qualifications, independence, and performance; (4) the performance of the Company's internal audit function; and (5) the integrity of the Company's internal controls regarding finance, accounting, and auditing, and its financial reporting processes.
1. The Audit Committee will consist of three or more directors as determined and elected by the Board. Each of these directors shall be independent in accordance with New York Stock Exchange rules ("NYSE Rules") and applicable Securities and Exchange Commission rules ("SEC Rules") applicable to Audit Committee members.
2. No Committee member may receive any compensation from the Company other than compensation as a director except as permitted by the NYSE Rules and SEC Rules.
3. All Committee members must be financially literate as required by the NYSE Rules and as such qualification is interpreted by the Board in its business judgment, or become financially literate within a reasonable period of time after his or her appointment to the Committee. At least one member of the Committee must have accounting or related financial management expertise as required by the NYSE Rules and at least one member must be an Audit Committee Financial Expert as defined in the SEC Rules.
4. If any Committee member simultaneously serves on the audit committee of more than three (3) public companies, the Board must determine that such simultaneous service will not impair the ability of such member to serve effectively on the Company's Audit Committee.
1. The Committee will meet at least quarterly, or at such other intervals as circumstances dictate as determined by the Chair of the Committee or a majority of the Committee members.
2. The Board may appoint a Chair of the Committee. The Chair will preside, when present, at all meetings of the Committee. A majority of the members shall constitute a quorum for the transaction of business. A majority of the members present at any meeting at which a quorum is present may act on behalf of the Committee. The Committee may meet by telephone or videoconference and may take action by written consent.
3. To foster open communication, the Committee will meet with management, the director of the internal audit department and the independent accountants in separate executive sessions to discuss any matters that should be discussed privately.
4. The Committee will report its activities and findings to the Board on a regular basis.
IV. RESPONSIBILITIES AND DUTIES
The specific duties and responsibilities of the Committee include:
A. Financial Statements Review
1. Review the audited financial statements, the Management's Discussion and Analysis section and other material financial content of the Company's annual report to shareholders and annual report on Form 10-K, and discuss with management and the independent auditors prior to publication of the annual report to shareholders and the filing of the Company's Form 10-K.
2. Review the unaudited financial statements, the Management's Discussion and Analysis section and other material financial content of each quarterly report on Form 10-Q and discuss with management and the independent auditors prior to filing the Form 10-Q. To the extent permissible under NYSE Rules, the Committee may delegate this review to the Chair or another member.
3. Review and comment concerning earnings press releases and financial information and earnings guidance provided to analysts and rating agencies prior to the release or dissemination of such information. In lieu of reviewing each such disclosure prior to release or dissemination, the Committee may discuss generally with management the types of information to be disclosed and the types of presentation to be made, and establish policies or guidelines for such disclosures. To the extent permissible under NYSE Rules, the Committee may delegate this review to the Chair or another member.
4. Prepare the annual Audit Committee report for inclusion in the Company's proxy statement, in accordance with all applicable rules and regulations.
B. Independent Auditors
1. Exercise direct responsibility for the selection, appointment, retention, oversight and compensation of the Company's independent auditors. The independent auditors shall report directly to the Committee. The Committee may submit the selection or appointment of the independent auditors to the Company's shareholders for approval or ratification.
2. Exercise sole authority to approve all work to be performed by the independent auditors and the fees for such work. The Committee shall oversee the Company's compliance with applicable law prohibiting the independent auditors from providing certain non-audit services. The Committee shall pre-approve all audit and permitted non-audit services to be performed by the independent auditors. The Committee may delegate to one or more of the members of the Committee the authority to pre-approve permitted non-audit services to be performed by the independent auditors, or may establish pre-approval policies and procedures in accordance with applicable law. The Committee shall be informed of any approvals granted pursuant to delegated authority or pre-approval policies and procedures at its next meeting following such approval.
3. Review the overall performance of the independent auditors, and if necessary, discharge the independent auditors if the Committee in its discretion determines that circumstances warrant such discharge.
4. At least annually, obtain and review a report by the independent auditor describing: the firm's internal quality-control procedures; 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 preceding five years, respecting one or more independent audits carried out by the firm, and any steps taken to deal with any such issues; and all relationships between the independent auditor and the Company. The Committee shall actively engage in a dialogue with the independent auditors with respect to any disclosed relationships or services that may impact the objectivity and independence of the independent auditors, and take appropriate action in response to the independent auditors' statement to satisfy itself of the accountants' independence. The Committee shall present its conclusions with respect to the independent auditors' independence and performance to the Board.
5. Develop clear guidelines regarding the Company's hiring of employees or former employees of the independent auditors.
6. Consider whether the Company should have a policy with respect to the rotation of independent auditing firms, and develop any such policy.
C. Internal Audit
1. Review periodic internal reports to management prepared by the internal audit department or the independent auditors and management's response along with the status of prior outstanding recommendations.
2. Review objectives, activities, organizational structure, qualifications, staffing and budget of the internal audit department.
3. Ratify the appointment, replacement, reassignment or dismissal of the head of the Company's Internal Audit function, as approved by the Committee Chair.
D. Financial Reporting and Auditing
1. Review with the independent auditors and the Company's internal auditors, the integrity of the Company's financial reporting processes, both internal and external.
2. Review with the independent auditors the quality and appropriateness of the Company's accounting principles and underlying estimates as applied in its financial statements.
3. Review with the independent auditors, the internal auditors and management, the adequacy and effectiveness of the Company's internal control over financial reporting, disclosure controls and procedures and the completeness and accuracy of the Company's financial statements and financial reporting process. The Committee shall consider the quality of presentation of, among other matters, critical accounting policies, off-balance sheet transactions and financial measures presented on a basis other than in accordance with generally accepted accounting principles.
4. In consultation with the independent auditors, management and the Company's internal audit department, review all major changes and improvements pertaining to the Company's financial and accounting principles, practices, internal control over financial reporting and disclosure controls and procedures.
5. Establish regular and separate systems of reporting to the Committee by the independent auditors and the internal auditors regarding any significant judgments made in management's preparation of the financial statements and the view of each as to the appropriateness of any such judgments.
6. Discuss, either as a Committee or through its Chair (or designee), with the independent auditors, the internal auditors and management the results of the independent accountants' review of the interim financial information prior to the filing of the quarterly Form 10-Q with the SEC, to the extent required by generally accepted auditing standards.
7. Discuss with the independent auditors and management the scope, planning and staffing of the annual audit prior to the commencement of the audit.
8. Obtain and review at least annually within 90 days prior to the filing of the Company's annual report on Form 10-K a report or report update from the independent auditors setting forth: all critical accounting policies and practices to be used in the financial statements; all alternative treatments within generally accepted accounting principles for policies and practices related to material items that have been discussed with management, including the ramifications of the use of such alternative disclosures and treatments and the treatment preferred by the independent auditors; and any other material communications between the independent auditors and management, such as any management letter or schedule of unadjusted differences.
9. After the annual audit, review with the independent auditors and the internal audit department the matters required under Statement of Auditing Standards Nos. 61 and 90, any significant difficulties encountered during the course of the audit, including any restrictions on the scope of work or access to required information and any significant unresolved disagreements with management. The Committee shall review with the independent auditor any audit problems or difficulties and management's response, and shall resolve any disagreements between management and the independent auditors.
E. Ethical and Legal Compliance
1. Ensure the Company maintains an appropriate ethics and compliance program and perform an annual review of its effectiveness. Review requests for and determine whether to grant or deny waivers of the Company's ethics code(s) applicable to directors and executive officers.
2. Regularly review legal, tax and regulatory matters that may have a material impact on the financial statements and the Company's disclosures concerning its financial position.
3. Discuss with management the Company's policies with respect to risk assessment and risk management.
4. Establish procedures as required by law for the receipt, retention and treatment of complaints on accounting, internal accounting controls or auditing matters, as well as for confidential, anonymous submissions by Company employees of concerns regarding questionable accounting or auditing matters.
V. GENERAL PROVISIONS
1. The Committee may establish such subcommittees of its members, as it deems appropriate to assist it in its duties, provided that it retains ultimate responsibility for such matters as prescribed by the NYSE Rules or SEC Rules.
2. In the course of fulfilling its duties, the Committee may at any time seek advice and assistance from outside legal counsel, accounting or other advisors as the Committee deems necessary to carry out its duties on such terms as the Committee may determine.
3. The Committee shall receive appropriate funding, as it determines, from the Company for payment of compensation to the independent auditors, outside legal counsel, or accounting or other advisors employed by the Committee, and for ordinary administrative expenses of the Committee that are necessary or appropriate in carrying out its duties.
4. The Committee shall conduct an annual performance self-evaluation to ensure that the Committee is fulfilling its responsibilities, and report the results of such evaluation to the Governance Committee.