2003 Audit Charter: MSFTMICROSOFT CORPORATION AUDIT COMMITTEE CHARTER
The Audit Committee of the Board of Directors assists the Board of Directors in fulfilling its responsibility for oversight of the quality and integrity of the accounting and reporting practices of the Company, the qualifications and independence of the public accounting firm engaged to prepare or issue an audit report on the financial statements of the Company (the "independent auditor"), performance of the internal auditor and the Company's internal audit function, and such other duties as directed by the Board. The Committee's role includes discussing with management the Company's processes to manage financial risk, and for compliance with significant applicable legal, ethical, and regulatory requirements. The Committee has sole authority over the appointment and replacement of the independent auditor and is directly responsible for compensation, and oversight of the independent auditor.
The membership of the Committee consists of at least three directors. Each member shall meet the experience requirements of the listing standards of The Nasdaq Stock Market and applicable laws and regulations. Each member will be free of any relationship that, in the opinion of the board, would interfere with his or her individual exercise of independent judgment. Applicable laws and regulations will be followed in evaluating a member's independence. Committee members will not serve simultaneously on the audit committees of more than two other public companies. The Board appoints the chairperson.
The Committee meets at least once each quarter. Additional meetings may occur as the Committee or its chair deems advisable. The Committee will cause to be kept adequate minutes of all its proceedings, and will report its actions to the next meeting of the Board. Committee members will be furnished with copies of the minutes of each meeting and any action taken by unanimous consent. The Committee will be governed by the same rules regarding meetings (including meetings by conference telephone or similar communications equipment), action without meetings, notice, waiver of notice, and quorum and voting requirements as are applicable to the Board. The Committee is authorized and empowered to adopt its own rules of procedure not inconsistent with (a) any provision hereof, (b) any provision of the Bylaws of the Corporation, or (c) the laws of the state of Washington.
The independent auditor reports directly to the Committee. The Committee is expected to maintain free and open communication with the independent auditor, the Company's internal auditors, and the Company's management. This communication will include periodic separate executive sessions with each of these parties.
The Company is responsible for providing the Committee with educational resources related to accounting principles and procedures, current accounting topics pertinent to the Company and other material as may be requested by the Committee. The Company will assist the Committee in maintaining appropriate financial literacy.
The Committee will have the resources and authority necessary to discharge its duties and responsibilities, including the authority to retain outside counsel or other experts or consultants, as it deems appropriate. Any communications between the Committee and legal counsel in the course of obtaining legal advice will be considered privileged communications of the Company, and the Committee will take all necessary steps to preserve the privileged nature of those communications.
The Committee's specific responsibilities in carrying out its oversight role are delineated in the Audit Committee Responsibilities Calendar. As the compendium of Committee responsibilities, the most recently updated Responsibilities Calendar will be considered to be an addendum to this Charter. The Committee will review and reassess the adequacy of this Charter annually to reflect changes in regulatory requirements, authoritative guidance, and evolving oversight practices and recommend any proposed changes to the Board.
The Committee relies on the expertise and knowledge of management, the internal auditors and the independent auditor in carrying out its oversight responsibilities. Management of the Company is responsible for determining the Company's financial statements are complete, accurate and in accordance with generally accepted accounting principles. The independent auditor is responsible for auditing the Company's financial statements. It is not the duty of the Committee to plan or conduct audits, to determine that the financial statements are complete and accurate and are in accordance with generally accepted accounting principles, to conduct investigations, or to assure compliance with laws and regulations or the Company's internal policies, procedures and controls.