I was saddened by the article "CPE Is Broke: Let's Fix It" (JofA, Dec.98, page 77). The new approach to continuing professional education (CPE) sounds like something developed by a government agency using "politically correct" as its guide.
The AICPA CPE standards subcommittee has decided it must answer all questions for the profession about what CPAs must know to be successful. It can't—it can only provide realistic parameters. CPE needs to reflect the CPA exam. Competency in selected areas is important to become a CPA; CPE in selected areas is needed to remain a CPA.
I find it amazing that this committee group tested a beta version of the competency assessment tool (CAT) during a three-month to four-month period beginning in December. It was even stated that this was an unrealistically brief period. One has to question, therefore, the validity of the study and related conclusions.
The article expressed a big concern regarding cheaters. The first step to correcting this problem would be to hold the certifiers responsible for quality CPE programs. The bargain-basement specials for CPE courses are a result of certifiers' not doing their jobs.
We will always have individuals that look at CPE as a necessary evil. All we can do is try to minimize their numbers. We need to have quality education programs and proper discipline when an individual does not satisfy established requirements. CPAs who go the extra step to become better professionals by ways other than certified CPE courses receive their reward in success. Why try to devise a system to get CPE credit for every learning experience?
The complex government-type system being considered and the attempt to be politically correct will encourage more abuse because of increased subjectivity. Let's get back to the basics. Provide the opportunity to be successful and keep it simple. When we have the basics, the rest is up to the individual.
Bradley E. Limbert, CPA