A Staff Accounting Bulletin (SAB) is a summarization of the views of the Securities and Exchange Commission's staff regarding how Generally Accepted Accounting Principles (GAAP) are to be applied. A common result is that the requirements of an SAB are more conservative and/or restrictive than the GAAP from which they are derived.
The views stated in an SAB are followed by the staffs of the Office of the Chief Accountant and the Division of Corporate Finance when reviewing the filings of publicly-held companies. For this reason, SABs are closely adhered to by entities registering their securities within the United States. If a publicly-held company does not incorporate the concepts in these bulletins into their financial statements and disclosures, it may receive a comment letter from the SEC.
The information in an SAB does not apply to privately-held organizations or those whose securities are registered on stock exchanges outside of the United States.
Staff Accounting Bulletins are issued by the SEC at relatively long intervals. The complete text of all current SABs are listed on the website of the Securities and Exchange Commission.