Citizens Funds, the socially responsible family of funds, has filed shareholder resolutions at Microsoft and Cisco Systems about fees paid to the firms’ auditors.

The resolutions ask management to limit the consulting fees paid to auditors to 25% of the total fees paid to their auditors. In 2001, Microsoft paid Deloitte & Touche $4.7 million for audit services and $14.7 million for additional non-audit services, according to Citizens Funds. Cisco paid PricewaterhouseCoopers $1.8 million for audit services and $16.8 million for non-audit services.

"Citizens Funds is committed to investing in companies that perform well, are fundamentally strong and that are also socially responsible. Corporate governance is one place where fundamental and social investing criteria intersect, so we must take action," said John Shields, president of Citizens Funds. "The investing public needs to be able to trust that auditors are unbiased and unfettered by potential conflicts of interest. So-called independent auditors need to shed their consulting services if they want the public to have faith in their findings."

It makes sense for firms to use auditors for a certain amount of consulting, Shields said. However, 75% of the total fees paid to them is too much, Shields said.

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