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Andrew Barr, the longest serving Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) chief accountant, was born in Urbana, Illinois, in 1901 and passed away in 1995 at the age of 94. After receiving his bachelor’s and master’s degree from the University of Illinois, he became a certified CPA in Illinois and began his career as a staff accountant in a CPA firm in Chicago. During his life, he has not only achieved great accomplishment in the field of accounting, but also spent a lot of time getting involved with military histories.
Before he began his long career with the SEC, he spent approximately 12 years working as an instructor in accounting in Economics Department at Yale University. And finally, starting from 1938, Andrew started his career with the SEC as a research accountant. Until early 1941, he joined military and served as Lieutenant Colonel, Assistant Chief of Stuff G-2. He was also the official historian for the third armed division until the end of the Second World War.  After he was discharged after the war, he remained in the Armed Reserve until 1961 until he returned back to SEC and continued his work as a research accountant. He later on served as assistant chief accountant and chief accountant of the SEC’s Division of Corporation Finance until 1956 and that was when he became his career as the Chief Accountant of the SEC until 1972.
When Andrew started as a research accountant at the SEC in 1938, he was assigned to work on the issues of the McKesson & Robbins fraud. McKesson & Robbins scandal was one of the biggest scandal in the 20th century when Musica and his brothers used assumed names to “generate bogus sales documentation and to pay commissions to a shell distribution company under their control” which led to the final discovery that 20 million of the assets were fake. Andrew played a very important role in this case where he put together the facts and materials which helped with the Commission’s investigation as well as prepared the questions that they were going to ask the witnesses. As a result of this scandal and the outcome of Andrew and his team’s investigation, major corporate governance and auditing reforms began to take place. The SEC required that public companies to have audit committees other than directors and that shareholders should decide on who the auditors will be. The American Institute of Accountants established a standing Committee on Auditing Procedure and decided to extend audition procedures such as requiring the auditors to verify accounts receivable and the observation of inventory. Andrew spent majority of his time and effort on this case until he was summoned to military in early 1941.
After Andrew’s return from the military, he returned back to SEC and from November 1956 to January 1972, Andrew Barr served 16 years as the Chief Accountant of the Securities and Exchange Commission, longer than anyone else has served in the past 60 years. 
On May 21st, 1959, Andrew published the paper “The Independent Accountant and the SEC” where he tried to to “reconcile the difference between the American Institute’s rules relating to auditor independence and those of the Commission”. Barr talks about the development of independent accountant’s responsibilities as well as the different views on independence between the Institute and the Commission. The Council of the American Institute of Accountants believed that it is okay for the accountant to certify as long as he or she does not have “substantial” financial interest in the enterprise. The SEC, on the other hand, disagree with this idea and they believe that a person should not certify the financial statements of an enterprise if he or she has “any” financial interest or benefit in the enterprise. Due to the many historical incidences listed in this paper, Andrew showed how easily conflicts of interest can happen due to things like financial interest and direct employment by the client and thus supported SEC’s view. As demonstrated above, Andrew has really helped to lay a more solid foundation in accounting ethic and integrity which the SEC continues to implement this idea today.
In addition, while Andrew served as the Chief Accountant, he also dealt with the investment tax credit issue. This issue has been controversial for a very long period of time where on one side President John F. Kennedy decided to issue a 7% credit against federal income taxes, which is the same as an immediate cash return. Whereas on the other side, the Accounting Principles Board, felt it should defer the amount. In the paper “Accounting Treatment of Investment Tax Credit on Corporate Financial Statements”, Andrew ….

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