By Deanna C. White
In his more than 40-year career as a member of the CPA profession, Carlos E. Johnson, CPA, EdD, has approached service to his vocation not as a duty, but as a calling – to consistently provide exemplary and unwavering leadership on the industry's legislative, academic, and not-for-profit fronts.
This August, that long history of service was recognized when the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants (AICPA) named him the seventeenth recipient of the AICPA Special Recognition Award. The award, which was established in 1999, is given to an individual who has contributed to the success of a particular professional initiative. It is bestowed when an individual's efforts warrant special recognition for contributions made of an outstanding nature. Recipients of the award do not have to be CPAs.
"Carlos has been a key player in the accounting profession for many years in the state and federal legislative and regulatory arenas", said Paul Stahlin, Chairman of the AICPA. "This recognition of his leadership from his CPA peers on the AICPA Awards Committee is well deserved. He has been a visionary and leading practitioner in our legislative efforts on the state and national levels."
Johnson's long record of service is based in his desire to always represent the profession in the "best and brightest light." He has spent a lifetime doing just that.
Johnson served as the chairman of the AICPA Uniform Accountancy Act (UAA) Committee for five years and was a member for three prior terms. He is the current chair of the National Association of State Boards of Accountancy (NASBA) UAA Committee. Johnson is widely regarded as a critical force in passing the UAA, legislation that provided greater mobility to accountants practicing in several states and served as the template for state-level accounting legislation nationwide. "The passage of the UAA is one of the greatest legislative victories of my career", Johnson said. "It provides greater national standardization for the CPA profession as well as our clients."
Johnson also has served the public in Oklahoma and in the accounting profession nationwide through a variety of volunteer positions. For the past thirty years, he was a coordinator of key personal contacts between CPAs and federal and state officials. He served two, five-year terms on the Oklahoma Board of Accountancy (OBA).
In addition, he was the chairman of the Oklahoma Internet Application Review Board. During his tenure, the OBA developed a uniform enforcement system and transformed its use of technology through development of an online registration system for firms and individuals, a licensee search system, and a modernized public information Web site.
Johnson has held all the leadership positions within the Oklahoma Society of CPAs (OSCPA). Through his leadership on the OSCPA Continuing Professional Education Committee, he created the first infrastructure to involve the Oklahoma academic community in OSCPA activities. Johnson said",Involving the academic community with the profession draws the best people to the field."
As chairman of the OSCPA Legislative Committee, he worked with five governors and legislative leaders to appoint a member of the OSCPA to each major state board and commission to bring CPA expertise, accountability, and transparency to Oklahoma state government. "I believe in good government, and I believe quality professionals and volunteers can enhance good government", Johnson said.
Other highlights of Johnson's career include:
- Membership on the original AICPA 150 Hour Committee, formed to promote the 150-course-hour requirement for entering the profession.
- Collaboration with AICPA staff to develop the Implementation of the 150 Hour Requirement workbook.
- Induction into the Oklahoma Accounting Hall of Fame in 1995.
Johnson's volunteerism is not limited to the public accountancy sector, however. He also has served as treasurer and director of the Oklahoma Zoological Society, been a member of the Oklahoma City Philharmonic Board of Trustees, and contributed as a lifelong volunteer to the Boy Scouts of America. "People need to know that CPAs are not just here to gain profits. We also look to make a difference in the outside world", Johnson said.
It is a message he routinely passes on to fledgling CPAs who seek his advice. "When they ask me why I do service work on top of my professional commitments, I always tell them I feel it's important to give back to the community, whether it's the accounting community or the local community", he said. "We should always act with objectivity, independence, and ethical behavior. Our service should always be based on doing the right thing."
Johnson is currently of counsel to Eide Bailly LLP in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, and is self-employed as a management consultant. He is a retired KPMG LLP partner.