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Securities and Exchange Commission

reached an agreement with four major

accounting firms on a new auditor independence rule that will reduce the amount of consulting work that the firms can do for their audit clients.

According to a report first posted on the Web site of

The New York Times

, the new rules will restrict the amount and nature of the work that the auditing firms will be doing for their clients, and will require that the audit committees of corporate boards know of and approve contracts that are given for nonaudit work.

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covered some of the issues facing the SEC and the firms in a

separate story.

The agreement on a new rule to be adopted Wednesday by the SEC came after negotiations broke down Monday night and then were renewed this morning when

Arthur Andersen

, one of the firms involved, reopened the talks.

The agreement on the highly contentious issue appears to reduce the chance that the new rule will be overturned either by


or a new SEC. Three major accounting firms, including two that signed on to the deal yesterday, had been lobbying Congress to try to block any action by the commission.