November 2002

Office of the Chief Accountant
Professional Accounting Fellow Program

Nature of the Program

The program is designed to appoint outstanding professional accountants to the staff of the Office of the Chief Accountant of the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission for a term of approximately two years. There currently are six Professional Accounting Fellows (PAFs) in the Office of the Chief Accountant.

The PAFs will be assigned to work under the direct supervision and guidance of the Chief Accountant to the Commission. Specific work assignments will be developed jointly by the Chief Accountant, Deputy Chief Accountants and the PAFs and will depend upon the needs of the Commission at the time and the interest and personal qualifications of the PAFs. Typically, the assignments will require the PAFs to develop innovative ideas and problem-solving concepts within the framework of SEC accounting policies and generally accepted accounting principles. The PAFs' responsibilities will include the study of significant accounting and auditing issues or concepts, participation in rulemaking initiatives, and evaluation of current reporting by registrants.

The PAFs also will perform research, develop position papers, and meet with various governmental and private professional groups involved in the financial reporting process. In connection with the Commission's oversight role, they may participate as an observer at various meetings of accounting and auditing standard-setting bodies. A portion of their time is expected to be devoted to tasks designed to increase their knowledge of the functions of the Commission as a whole through cooperative efforts with other Divisions and Offices.

Eligibility Requirements

To be eligible for participation in the program, candidates must meet the following requirements:

  • Have excellent verbal and written communication skills.
  • Possess effective organizational and interpersonal skills.
  • Be thoroughly familiar with and have broad-based experience with auditing, reporting, and accounting standards.
  • Have at least nine years of experience in public accounting work or its equivalent (for example, assignment as a person responsible for financial reporting in a company or teaching accounting at the college level could qualify as such experience). This experience must have included work that provided the candidate with an understanding of SEC accounting and/or SEC registration procedures. At least three to six years of this experience must have been at a managerial level in a public accounting firm or in an organization that has provided equivalent experience in financial accounting and reporting. For example, this level in a CPA firm would be characterized by assignments that require the individual to plan and control audit engagements, supervise the audit staff engaged in conducting the examination, and review the results with the partner in charge of the engagement. If the applicant's managerial experience is not in public accounting, appropriate experience would be characterized by assignments that involved the research, evaluation, and resolution of accounting and disclosure issues.

Application Process

We are accepting applications for two appointments commencing in April 2003 and continuing through June 2005. The Office of the Chief Accountant would like to select two individuals, one with significant experience in accounting for financial instruments, and another with no specific weighting toward a particular background, although familiarity with accounting for consolidations, revenue recognition, business combinations and other forms of business alliances would be helpful.

Interested applicants are to submit:

  • A resume;
  • Standard Form 171, "Personal Qualification Statement," or Form OF-612, "Optional Application for Federal Employment," or any other written format that clearly identifies the announcement number, title, series, and grade of the job for which the applicant is seeking; and
  • At least two letters of recommendation from non-relatives.

Standard Form 171, Form OF-612 and "Applying for a Federal Job," that highlights the information to be included in your resume or other written submission, can be obtained from the Office of Administrative and Personnel Management, Securities and Exchange Commission, 450 Fifth Street, N.W., Washington, D.C., 20549. Form OF-612 is also available on the Internet at

Applicants are required to submit a ten to twelve page essay that they have prepared on their own on a subject directly related to a current accounting or auditing issue. While no restriction is placed on the topic an applicant may address in the essay, the following areas are currently receiving significant attention in the Office of the Chief Accountant:

  • Combination of financial instruments;
  • Integrated model for debt extinguishments, modifications, conversions, and restructurings;
  • Application of fair value to an accounting model;
  • Revenue recognition;
  • Consolidation;
  • Impact and implementation of the Sarbanes-Oxley Act of 2002;
  • Principles-based accounting standards;
  • Improving the financial reporting model; and
  • International convergence.

The application and essay should be submitted on or before December 20, 2002, to the Chief Accountant of the Securities and Exchange Commission, 450 Fifth Street, N.W., Washington, D.C., 20549-1103. Inquiries about the program may be addressed to the attention of Michael Thompson or Carina Markel in the Office of the Chief Accountant at (202) 942-4400.

Selection Process

A selection committee will review the applications received and select as finalists the best-qualified candidates. Candidates will be evaluated on the basis of their qualifications, the nature and requirements of work assignments to be performed, and the relative quality of the essay, including its relevance to current SEC problems, issues and policy. The finalists will be contacted for an interview, which is expected to occur in January 2003. The Chief Accountant will make the final selection.

The Commission's policy of affording equal employment opportunity to all interested candidates will be followed.

Conditions of Appointment

PAFs will be required to sever all ties with their current employers before accepting appointment. They will be subject to the conflict-of-interest laws applicable to federal employees and must agree in writing to adhere to the "Regulation Regarding the Conduct of Members and Employees and Former Members and Employees of the Securities and Exchange Commission." This does not prohibit their return to their former employers.

No PAF will be assigned to enforcement investigations or to individual cases or matters in which he or she was previously associated.

The salary level for each PAF will generally be established at the entrance level rate of pay for the grade of the position involved, which normally will be SK-16. The SEC will not pay relocation expenses.

PAFs are covered under the federal government's employee retirement system (which includes participation in the Social Security system) and the annual and sick leave regulations applicable to federal employees.

Last modified: 11/1/2002