Representing Small Practice Accountants: The Best Purpose and First Duty of the NSA/ASO Partnership

Article excerpt

[ILLUSTRATION OMITTED]

The protocols that attend the regulation of public accountancy have been forever changed! Not by a recent act of Congress, but by the collapse of moral conduct that moved the U.S. Congress to enact the most sweeping regulatory change ever visited on a single profession. Those corporate scandals mobilized a plethora of public interest activists and consumer protection lobbyists. These self-appointed arbiters of accountancy conduct and ethical standards besiege our legislative representatives across the country. State accountancy boards, honoring their duty to the public interest, are re-examining their procedures and evaluating demands arising from two sources that did not even exist a mere twenty-two months ago.

Our state officials must react to the precepts of the new Public Company Accounting Oversight Board (PCAOB) by simple application of law. Their oath of office demands that they give audience and thoughtful consideration to the countless "solutions" that are being brokered by the new advocates of a fuming and suspicious public. These new players are well-intentioned, articulate and effective, but too often misinformed. This is one reason why it is so important that NSA members--the small practice accountants--play a leading role in restoring public confidence in our markets and in our economy.

Although the practice rights of small practice accountants face significant risks, the National Society of Accountants (NSA) is proud of its history of defending fundamental practice rights. Together with our Affiliated State Organizations (ASOs), we have prepared a strategy to meet these new challenges. One element of the strategy is the following resolution, adopted in January 2003.

   "Expand the mission of the State Regulation and Oversight Committee
   of the National Society of Accountants to include identifying
   state-specific issues and concerns that follow passage of The
   Sarbanes-Oxley Public Company Accountability Act of 2002 and empower
   that committee to actively seek participation by Affiliated State
   Organizations in developing and offering cooperative technical advice
   to state legislatures on matters pertaining to accountability within
   the accounting profession."

NSA has tools to monitor the state legislature and general assemblies of every state for proposed legislation and regulations that would affect the practices of the smallto mid-size accounting firm. ASOs monitor their State Boards of Accountancy and submit regular reports to the NSA headquarters. SROC members receive copies of these reports, which they read and evaluate faithfully. SROC notifies every concerned person at NSA and the ASO through an established communication protocol as issues arise and events occur.

Members of SROC are on the agenda at NSA Leadership Networking Conferences to distribute published material and discuss the ways SROC can assist ASOs and members. At their own expense, ASOs may arrange a visit from one or more members of SROC to help establish a legislative program that serves the ASO and the NSA members in the state. SROC greatly values its communications network that enables it to work so effectively; this network includes NSA leaders, State Directors, ASO officers and concerned grassroots ASO and NSA members.

The State Regulation and Oversight Committee (SROC) is part of the NSA Right to practice Committee. SROC has primary responsibility for the administration and implementation of the policies and the programs relating to small practice accountants in public practice on the state level. …