SEC Commissioner Speaks to Accountability for Sustainability Accounting

SEC Commissioner Daniel Gallagher made remarks last week at the 26th Annual Corporate Law Institute held at Tulane University Law School.  His comments centered on his views of the current condition of corporate governance and the role of the SEC and the Commissioners.  In that light, he stated  “We must also take exception to efforts by third parties that attempt to prescribe what should be in corporate filings.  It is the Commission’s responsibility to set the parameters of required disclosure.”

Gallagher called attention to “[t]he somewhat confusingly-named Sustainability Accounting Standards Board” or (SASB).  SASB is a non-profit entity that, according to their website “provides standards for use by publicly-listed corporations in the U.S. in disclosing material sustainability issues for the benefit of investors and the public.”

However, Gallagher was less than supportive of the group and clarified that “the SASB does not actually promulgate accounting standards, nor does it limit itself to sustainability topics, although I suppose it is in fact a Board.” 

He continued to voice concern about overreaching or non-mandated SEC disclosures:

The Commission does not and should not delegate to outside, non-governmental bodies the responsibility for setting disclosure requirements.  So while companies are free to make whatever disclosures they choose on their own time, so to speak, it is important to remember that groups like SASB have no role in the establishment of mandated disclosure requirements.

Doubtful this is reception SASB had hoped for at such a relevant and influential level.

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