Members attending the fall meeting of council worked through a packed agenda, which began with announcements by AICPA President Barry Melancon about a groundbreaking delivery system for CPE and his vision for an Institute site on the Internet—that would offer members unprecedented access to professional resources needed—and which ended with the governing body approving actions in a burst of momentum that presaged even more changes to come as the year 2000 arrived.
CPE—A radical approach
In a move that will reshape the CPE market, Melancon set forth the plan for offering unlimited continuing professional education on the Web to all AICPA members for a fixed price of $95 a year: Members will be able to obtain all the CPE they want for that price. The Web CPE library will have some 150 courses, representing approximately 1,200 credit hours. The program is scheduled to begin in May 2000.
In addition, Melancon announced that the AICPA will offer its CPE seminar courses free of charge to state societies, provided the societies sell them to Institute members at a $30 discount.
To help with the transition and manage the costs of this initiative, Melancon proposed creating a shared services corporation, which the AICPA and the state societies would jointly own, to take charge of the administrative tasks of the operation, thus increasing efficiencies.
A look at Vision central
Melancon’s commitment to and belief in the power of the Internet was never more clear than when he introduced his vision of the AICPA on the Web—a concept that will take enormous funding to develop. His idea is for a “vertical electronic portal” that will create a Web-based profession and be global in scope. The portal will connect members to each other, give them access to real-time information, archives, professional literature, discussion groups and international contacts.
New chairman chosen. Robert K. Elliott of KPMG was elected chairman of the board of the AICPA for the 1999–2000 year, and Kathy G. Eddy of McDonough, Eddy, Parsons & Baylous, A.C., Parkersburg, West Virginia, was named vice chairman.
In his inaugural address to council (see Worth Repeating, page 81, for the full text), Elliott described his concept of the CPA of the future, noting there will be changes that will dramatically alter some of the profession’s traditional beliefs and structure.
Information technology credential approved. Council ratified a board of directors action to create a new credential for CPAs skilled in information technology implementation and management, business strategy, audit, security, systems, planning and budgeting.
The Institute will grant the new credential to CPAs with a wide range of skill levels and experience in technology management, and it will be available to members in public practice, consulting, business and industry, government and education.
The IT credential is the first one developed under the auspices of the national accreditation commission, a new AICPA committee formed to evaluate potential areas for accreditation. The IT accreditation joins the Institute’s two others: PFS—personal financial specialist and ABV—accredited in business valuation.
To qualify for the new credential, CPAs must earn a sufficient number of points, which will be awarded based on business experience and lifelong learning. Those applicants who do not amass enough points in these two areas will need to take an examination to qualify.
The information technology accreditation is slated to be launched this coming summer. For more information, send an e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org .
Tax executive committee authorized. Council granted the tax executive committee status as a standard-setting body.
Between 1964 and 1977, the AICPA tax executive committee, to provide guidance for tax practitioners, issued eight statements on responsibilities in tax practice (SRTPs). Since their appearance, they have been relied upon by courts, the IRS and state accountancy boards more as enforceable standards than mere professional practice guidance. As an officially sanctioned standard-setting body, the tax executive committee now can begin the process of recasting that set of guidelines as enforceable standards.
FASAB approved to issue GAAP standards. Council voted to authorize the Federal Accounting Standards Advisory Board (FASAB) as the standard-setting body for federal government entities. In 1986 the council designated the Government Accounting Standards Board (GASB) as a standard-setter for local and state governments and, in 1973, the Financial Accounting Standards Board (FASB) for nongovernment entities.
AICPA committee reorganization passed. The council backed the board of directors’ plan to restructure the Institute’s committees. The plan called for dropping some 49 committees and replacing them with two new task forces: a panel of 15 AICPA members and staff and the Group of 100, a hand-picked “think tank” of members charged with pinpointing new strategies.
Members to vote on bylaw changes. Council approved several bylaw changes to be submitted to the membership for a vote:
- A proposed bylaw amendment that would authorize the AICPA to use any means approved by the council—including the Internet—to communicate with members, for example, when conducting a membership ballot.
- A bylaw amendment that would permit publication of disciplinary actions on the AICPA Web site.
- A proposed change that would affect the peer review requirement related to CPAs in non-CPA-owned entities: CPAs performing compilations under SSARS no. 1 would be subject to the same oversight as CPAs in public practice firms and would be subject to peer review on those engagements and be required to enroll in Institute-approved practice-monitoring programs.
- An amendment that would allow non-CPA public members of the AICPA board of directors to serve on any senior or permanent committee or board.
- A bylaw change that would modernize and remove inconsistencies from governing documents. The proposed change addresses updating language to reflect current usage.
- A proposed administrative change that would synchronize Rule 505, “Form of Organization and Name,” with Bylaw 2.5, “Right of Members to Describe Themselves as Such,” and rid the related rules of inconsistencies in language.
- An amendment to broaden the powers of the committee on audit so it can comply with the recommendations of the Public Oversight Board’s Panel on Audit Effectiveness.
- A revision of bylaw 7.2.1 that would give the right to terminate the affiliations of international associates to the AICPA board of directors rather than to leave it with the council as it now stands.