Public companies saw the fees they paid to their outside audit firms rise 5% last year, to an average of $3.9 million, according to an annual survey conducted by Financial Executives Research Foundation. Private companies saw a 7% rise in 2011 audit fees, to an average of $231,200.

The modest increase in public companies' audit fees in 2011 follows a 2% rise, to $3.3 million, in 2010.

FERF surveyed more than 270 companies. The public company results varied by size, with the 17 public companies that had revenues greater than $25 billion reporting a 10% rise in their audit fees, while the 13 public companies with revenues between $5 billion and $14.9 billion saw their fees decline by 9%.

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Susan Kelly

Susan Kelly is a business journalist who has written for Treasury & Risk, FierceCFO, Global Finance, Financial Week, Bridge News and The Bond Buyer.