CPAs Band Together to Confront AICPA

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The executive team of CPAs Reforming Our Profession (CROP), a self-described group of "concerned members of the AICPA," has submitted recommendations to council members of the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants with the hope of influencing the direction of discussions to be held at the AICPA's annual Council meeting scheduled for October 19-21, 2003 in New Orleans.

CROP, founded by 12 accountants in the summer of 2002, is on a mission to restore public confidence in the "integrity, ethics, and honesty of the CPA." To that end, the group has submitted the following suggestions to the AICPA Council. CROP hopes that such actions, if implemented, will encourage CPAs to support the national organization in its endeavors to improve public opinion with regard to the profession.

Suggestions for discussion at the October meeting:

  1. Make public acknowledgement of the shortcomings of the CPA profession and, at the same time, educate the public of management's responsibilities for illegal and unethical activities.
  2. Reform AICPA governance so that it is member-driven and more democratic.
  3. Provide better mechanisms for the voice of opposition in AICPA publications and communications and evaluate the ideas of those with thoughts contrary to the "common wisdom."
  4. Acknowledge that the CPA license IS expandable and focus on marketing the CPA brand.
  5. View auditing as an integral skill of the CPA. The audit experience should be the primary core and foundation of the education of every CPA because it teaches independence, objectivity, and professional skepticism.
  6. Utilize available and existing technology (i.e. member polling) to more effectively contact and obtain feedback from members.
  7. Create a methodology for accountability of management and volunteers to the membership.
  8. Provide for transparency and openness - there should be disclosure of all activities of the AICPA and member inquiries should be answered.
  9. Provide concrete evidence of the benefits of AICPA membership.
  10. Leverage the intellectual capital of members.
  11. Require major initiatives to have broad-based member support.
  12. Support and evaluate existing and future specialty areas and monitor their continued viability.
  13. Provide effective national and international political advocacy based on member concerns.
  14. Retain the ability to write the professional standards and protect the rule-making authority of the AICPA because it is uniquely qualified for this purpose.
  15. Provide support for all member constituencies.
  16. In addition to the reporting reforms necessary to protect shareholders of public companies, support the immediate development of an appropriate, cost effective Generally Accepted Accounting Principles for businesses who do not have outside investors and whose primary readers have direct access to management.
  17. Develop an ongoing process for the Certified Public Accounting profession to perform detailed reviews of all significant "audit" failures for the purpose of understanding the mechanism of failure and developing changes in procedures that would help avoid the same problems in the future.

In addition, CROP has submitted an issues paper to the AICPA Council emphasizing the need for the Council to direct its attention to four significant issues: the future of specialty credentials, concerns about fair and open AICPA governance, the results of the AICPA member satisfaction survey conducted during 2002, and the current dilemma of standards faced by CPAs providing services to non-public companies.

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