Audit Committee Charter

The purpose of the Audit Committee is to assist the Board of Directors' oversight of:

  • the Company's accounting and financial reporting processes and the audits of the Company's financial statements;
     
  • the integrity of the Company's financial statements;
     
  • the Company's compliance with legal and regulatory requirements;
     
  • the independent auditor's qualifications and independence; and
     
  • the performance of the Company's internal audit function and independent auditors.
  1. Number. The Audit Committee shall consist of at least three members of the Board of Directors.
     
  2. Independence. Except as otherwise permitted by the applicable rules of The Nasdaq Stock Market, each member of the Audit Committee shall: be "independent" as defined by such rules, meet the criteria for independence set forth in Rule 10A 3(b)(1) under the Securities Exchange Act of 1934, as amended (the "Exchange Act") (subject to the exemptions provided in Rule 10A 3(c)), and not have participated in the preparation of the financial statements of the Company or any current subsidiary of the Company at any time during the past three years.
     
  3. Financial Literacy. Each member of the Audit Committee shall be able to read and understand fundamental financial statements, including the Company's balance sheet, income statement, and cash flow statement, at the time of his or her appointment to the Audit Committee. In addition, at least one member must have past employment experience in finance or accounting, requisite professional certification in accounting, or any other comparable experience or background which results in the individual's financial sophistication, including being or having been a chief executive officer, chief financial officer or other senior officer with financial oversight responsibilities. Unless otherwise determined by the Board of Directors (in which case disclosure of such determination shall be made in the Company's annual report filed with the SEC), at least one member of the Audit Committee shall be an "audit committee financial expert" (as defined by applicable SEC rules).
     
  4. Chair. Unless the Board of Directors elects a Chair of the Audit Committee, the Audit Committee shall elect a Chair by majority vote.
     
  5. Compensation. The compensation of Audit Committee members shall be as determined by the Board of Directors. No member of the Audit Committee may receive, directly or indirectly, any consulting, advisory or other compensatory fee from the Company or any of its subsidiaries, other than fees paid in his or her capacity as a member of the Board of Directors or a committee of the Board.
     
  6. Selection and Removal. Members of the Audit Committee shall be appointed by the Board of Directors, upon the recommendation of the Nominating and Corporate Governance Committee. The Board of Directors may remove members of the Audit Committee from such committee, with or without cause.

General

The Audit Committee shall discharge its responsibilities, and shall assess the information provided by the Company's management and the independent auditor, in accordance with its business judgment. Management is responsible for the preparation, presentation, and integrity of the Company's financial statements and for the appropriateness of the accounting principles and reporting policies that are used by the Company and for establishing and maintaining adequate internal control over financial reporting. The independent auditors are responsible for auditing the Company's financial statements and the Company's internal control over financial reporting and for reviewing the Company's unaudited interim financial statements. The authority and responsibilities set forth in this Charter do not reflect or create any duty or obligation of the Audit Committee to plan or conduct any audit, to determine or certify that the Company's financial statements are complete, accurate, fairly presented, or in accordance with generally accepted accounting principles or applicable law, or to guarantee the independent auditor's report.


Oversight of Independent Auditors

  1. Selection. The Audit Committee shall be solely and directly responsible for appointing, evaluating and, when necessary, terminating the engagement of the independent auditor. The Audit Committee may, in its discretion, seek stockholder ratification of the independent auditor it appoints.
     
  2. Independence. The Audit Committee shall take, or recommend that the full Board of Directors take, appropriate action to oversee the independence of the independent auditor. In connection with this responsibility, the Audit Committee shall obtain and review the written disclosures and the letter from the independent auditor required by applicable requirements of the Public Company Accounting Oversight Board (the "PCAOB") regarding the independent auditor's communications with the Audit Committee concerning independence. The Audit Committee shall actively engage in dialogue with the independent auditor concerning any disclosed relationships or services that might impact the objectivity and independence of the auditor.
     
  3. Quality-Control Report. At least annually, the Audit Committee shall obtain and review a report by the independent auditor describing:
    • the firm's internal quality control procedures; and
    • any material issues raised by the most recent internal quality-control review, peer review, or PCAOB inspection of the firm, or by any inquiry or investigation by governmental or professional authorities within the preceding five (5) years, respecting one or more independent audits carried out by the firm, and steps taken to deal with such issues.

  4. Compensation. The Audit Committee shall have sole and direct responsibility for setting the compensation of the independent auditor. The Audit Committee is empowered, without further action by the Board of Directors, to cause the Company to pay the compensation of the independent auditor established by the Audit Committee.
     
  5. Pre-approval of Services. The Audit Committee shall preapprove all services (audit and non-audit) to be provided to the Company by the independent auditor; provided, however, that de minimis non-audit services may instead be approved in accordance with applicable SEC rules.
     
  6. Oversight. The independent auditor shall report directly to the Audit Committee, and the Audit Committee shall have sole and direct responsibility for overseeing the independent auditor, including resolution of disagreements between Company management and the independent auditor regarding financial reporting. In connection with its oversight role, the Audit Committee shall, from time to time as appropriate, receive and consider the reports and other communications required to be made by the independent auditor regarding:
    • critical accounting policies and practices;

    • alternative treatments within generally accepted accounting principles for policies and practices related to material items that have been discussed with Company management, including ramifications of the use of such alternative disclosures and treatments, and the treatment preferred by the independent auditor;

    • other material written communications between the independent auditor and Company management;

    • " audit problems or difficulties the independent auditor encountered in the course of the audit work and management's response, including any restrictions on the scope of the auditor's activities or on access to requested information and significant disagreements with management;

    • major issues, as to the adequacy of the Company's internal controls and any audit steps adopted in light of material control deficiencies; and

    • all the other matters addressed in PCAOB Auditing Standard No. 1301, Communications with Audit Committee ("AS 1301").

Review of Audited Financial Statements

  1. Discussion of Audited Financial Statements. The Audit Committee shall review and discuss with the Company's management and independent auditor the Company's audited financial statements, and the matters discussed by AS 1301, including those issues enumerated above in Section C.6.
     
  2. Recommendation to Board Regarding Financial Statements. The Audit Committee shall consider whether it will recommend to the Board of Directors that the Company's audited financial statements be included in the Company's Annual Report on Form 10-K.
     
  3. Audit Committee Report. The Audit Committee shall prepare an annual committee report for inclusion where necessary in the proxy statement of the Company relating to its annual meeting of security holders.

Review of Other Financial Disclosures

  1. Independent Auditor Review of Interim Financial Statements. The Audit Committee shall direct the independent auditor to use its best efforts to perform all reviews of interim financial information prior to disclosure by the Company of such information and to discuss promptly with the Audit Committee and the Chief Financial Officer any matters identified in connection with the auditor's review of interim financial information which are required to be discussed by applicable auditing standards. The Audit Committee shall direct management to advise the Audit Committee in the event that the Company proposes to disclose interim financial information prior to completion of the independent auditor's review of interim financial information.
     
  2. Quarterly Financial Statements. The Audit Committee shall discuss with the Company's management and independent auditor the Company's quarterly financial statements and the Company's disclosures under "Management's Discussion and Analysis of Financial Condition and Results of Operations" contained in its Quarterly Reports on Form 10-Q and other SEC filings.

Oversight of Internal Audit

  1. Internal Audit Function. The Audit Committee shall coordinate the Board of Director's oversight of the performance of the Company's internal audit function. The Audit Committee shall review the activities, organizational structure, qualifications and budget of the Internal Audit function and shall have authority to hire and terminate the head of the Internal Audit function.
     
  2. Internal Audit Activities. The Audit Committee shall review and approve the annual Internal Audit plan. The Audit Committee shall meet with the head of Internal Audit on a regular basis to receive reports on completed audits, including management responses and status of audits in-process and planned. The Audit Committee shall also receive from the head of Internal Audit reports of any material irregularities, fraud or defalcations regarding unauthorized access to Company assets.

Controls and Procedures

  1. Oversight. The Audit Committee shall coordinate the Board of Directors' oversight of the Company's internal control over financial reporting, the Company's disclosure controls and procedures and the Company's code of conduct. The Audit Committee shall receive and review the reports of the CEO and CFO required by Section 302 of the Sarbanes-Oxley Act of 2002 (and the applicable rules thereunder) and Rule 13a-14 of the Exchange Act.
     
  2. Risk Management. The Audit Committee shall discuss the Company's policies with respect to risk assessment and risk management, including guidelines and policies to govern the process by which the Company's exposure to risk is handled.
     
  3. Procedures for Complaints. The Audit Committee shall establish procedures for (i) the receipt, retention and treatment of complaints received by the Company regarding accounting, internal accounting controls or auditing matters; and (ii) the confidential, anonymous submission by employees of the Company of concerns regarding questionable accounting or auditing matters.
     
  4. Oversight of Related-Party Transactions. The Audit Committee shall review the Company’s policies and procedures for reviewing and approving or ratifying “related person transactions” (defined as transactions required to be disclosed pursuant to Item 404 of Regulation S-K), including the Company’s Related Party Transaction Policies and Procedures, and recommend any changes to the Board of Directors.  In accordance with the Company’s Related Party Transaction Policies and Procedures and NASDAQ rules, the Audit Committee shall conduct appropriate review and oversight of all related person transactions for potential conflict of interest situations on an ongoing basis.
     
  5. Additional Powers. The Audit Committee shall have such other duties as may be delegated from time to time by the Board of Directors.
  1. Meetings. The Audit Committee shall meet as often as it deems necessary in order to perform its responsibilities. The Audit Committee may also act by unanimous written consent in lieu of a meeting. The Audit Committee shall periodically meet separately with: (i) the independent auditor; (ii) the internal auditor, (iii) and Company management. The Audit Committee shall keep such records of its meetings as it shall deem appropriate.
     
  2. Subcommittees. The Audit Committee may form and delegate authority to one or more subcommittees (including a subcommittee consisting of a single member), as it deems appropriate from time to time under the circumstances. Any decision of a subcommittee to preapprove audit, review, attest or non-audit services shall be presented to the full Audit Committee at its next scheduled meeting.
     
  3. Reports to Board. The Audit Committee shall report regularly to the Board of Directors.
     
  4. Charter. At least annually, the Audit Committee shall review and reassess the adequacy of this Charter and recommend any proposed changes to the Board of Directors for approval.
     
  5. Independent Advisors. The Audit Committee shall have the authority, without further action by the Board of Directors, to engage and determine funding for such independent legal, accounting and other advisors as it deems necessary or appropriate to carry out its responsibilities. Such independent advisors may be the regular advisors to the Company. The Audit Committee is empowered, without further action by the Board of Directors, to cause the Company to pay the compensation of such advisors as established by the Audit Committee.
     
  6. Investigations. The Audit Committee shall have the authority to conduct or authorize investigations into any matters within the scope of its responsibilities as it shall deem appropriate, including the authority to request any officer, employee or advisor of the Company to meet with the Audit Committee or any advisors engaged by the Audit Committee.
     
  7. Funding. The Audit Committee is empowered, without further action by the Board, to cause the Company to pay the ordinary administrative expenses of the Audit Committee that are necessary or appropriate in carrying out its duties.
     
  8. Annual Self-Evaluation. At least annually, the Audit Committee shall evaluate its own performance.

Revised: May 31, 2017


Committee Members

Mr. James J. Judge
Mr. James J. Judge

Mr. James J. Judge has been executive vice president and chief financial officer of Eversource Energy (formerly Northeast Utilities), New England’s largest energy delivery company, since 2012. From 1999 until 2012, he was senior vice president and chief financial officer of NSTAR, a publicly held electric and gas utility company.  Jim joined Boston Edison in 1977 and held various positions in the rates, treasury, strategic planning and financial management organizations prior to his appointment in 1995 as the company’s chief financial officer. He was a principal negotiator in the merger with Commonwealth Energy Systems in 1999 that created NSTAR. Jim continued to serve as CFO of the new company, directing the treasury, accounting, rates, investor relations, supply chain, performance management, and information systems organizations. He was a key negotiator in the 2012 merger between Northeast Utilities and NSTAR and was elected to his current position subsequent to that merger. He holds both a master’s degree and a bachelor of science in business administration from Babson College.

Mr. Stephen A. Odland
Mr. Stephen A. Odland

Mr. Steve Odland has been president and chief executive officer of the Committee for Economic Development, a non-profit, public policy organization, since 2013. Prior to that he was an adjunct professor in the graduate school of business at Lynn University and at Florida Atlantic University from 2011 to 2012. Mr. Odland served as chairman and chief executive officer of Office Depot, Inc. from 2005 until 2010. From 2001 to 2005 he was chairman and chief executive officer of AutoZone, Inc. From 1998 to 2000 he served as an executive with Ahold U.S.A., an international food retailer. He was president of the Foodservice Division of Sara Lee Bakery from 1997 to 1998, and was employed by The Quaker Oats Company from 1981 to 1996. Mr. Odland has served on the board of General Mills, Inc. since 2004, where he is a member of the Corporate Governance and Compensation Committees. He also serves as a trustee of the Conference Board, a global, independent business membership and research association working to provide the world’s leading organizations with the practical knowledge they need to improve their performance and better serve society.

Joseph E. Whitters
Joseph E. Whitters

Mr. Joseph E. Whitters has been a consultant to Frazier Healthcare, a leading provider of growth and venture capital to healthcare companies, since 2005. From 1986 to 2005, he served in various financial capacities at First Health Group Corp., a publicly traded managed care company, where he held various positions of increasing responsibility, including executive vice president and chief financial officer. From 1984 to 1986, he served as controller for United Healthcare Corp. He began his career in public accounting with Peat Marwick and is a CPA (inactive). Mr. Whitters currently serves as a director of InfuSystem Holdings, Inc., a provider of ambulatory infusion pumps and associated clinical services, and as chairman of the board of PRGX Global, Inc., a global leader in recovery audit and spend analytics services. Previous industry-related board memberships include his service at Air Methods Corp., Mentor Worldwide LLC (where he served as chairman), Omnicell Inc., Solexa, Inc., Zonare Medical Systems. Inc., and numerous other public and private healthcare companies.