Magazine article The National Public Accountant

Monitoring Your State Board of Accountancy

Magazine article The National Public Accountant

Monitoring Your State Board of Accountancy

Article excerpt

A few years ago, I was at an NSA function in Washington, DC, and was speaking with an NSA colleague about State Board of Accountancy matters and monitoring. Jim was on the State Board of Accountancy in his state and during the course of our conversation, he said something that bothered me, and I asked him more about it.

"Jim, a couple of times you said that folks from your state society came into the Board of Accountancy meeting and 'mouthed-off' and embarrassed you. What was that all about?"

Jim said that one time the president of the state society had to put his two cents in about the AICPA proposal concerning their desire to change the format of the CPA exam. Another time, one of the monitors brought up an issue that the society had discussed as a minor matter in executive session. Another time, in the public session of the meeting, one of the monitors asked if he could have a copy of the document that was under discussion. Jim concluded, "This mouthing-off by folks in my own state society was something of an embarrassment to me."

Then I asked, "How do you feel they should act?" He answered, "I feel they should go over there, take a chair, sit down, start observing, and take notes if they feel that there are any notes to take." I replied, "Jim, I 'd like to give you another viewpoint on that. In the beginning, there was no licensing of accountants in the United States. With the exception of one state, New York, all of the licensing of accountants came about in your state and the various other states in the 20th century. At that time, unlicensed accountants in your state were grandfathered-in as licensed accountants. After the initial grandfathering period, future licensed accountants were so made through examination, education, experience and other qualifying factors.

"As soon as the Governor lifted his fountain pen off the bill signing the Accountancy Act into law, it gave the public a right to be present at a government function, the State Board of Accountancy meetings, in a monitoring capacity--not as observers. As a monitor, any member of the public has a right to speak up on an issue. Further, if that person is an accountant, licensed or unlicensed, he has a duty to speak up, and speak out on issues that he feels concern him, his organization, and his profession. This doesn't mean that they have a right to 'blurt' out whenever they want to, but it does mean that they have a right to stick up their hand to be recognized, to pass a note on to someone to be recognized, or so move in a manner that is respectful to the meeting."

Jim asked, "What do you mean by duty?"

My answer was, "Just that. Suppose a police officer on patrol looks into a liquor store and sees a person with a gun sticking up the store manager. That officer can't ignore what he saw. He has a professional duty to pursue the armed robbery incident to a conclusion, even if it results in mortal injury to him. …

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