Monday, 19 May 2008

Too Much Administration?

The American Institute of Certified Public Accountants (AICPA) is lobbying to remove the barriers to professional accountants working in multiple states. As they point out,

“Because the electronic age makes conducting business across state borders an everyday occurrence, a national effort is underway to adopt a uniform system that will allow licensed CPAs the ability to provide services across state lines without being subject to unnecessary burdens that do not protect the public interest.”

They go even further and say,

“This provision provides the right balance of trust and public protection. Removing notification is being coupled with automatic jurisdiction. By removing boundaries to practice in the U.S., CPAs will be able to more readily serve individuals and businesses in need of their expertise. At the same time, the state board of accountancy’s ability to discipline under the provision is enhanced and is based on the CPA and the CPA firm’s performance of public accounting services, either physically, electronically or otherwise within a state, rather than restricting the board’s authority to only those holding a state’s license.”

My question is why do we have state boards at all? If our goal is to protect the public, then the focus of the accounting profession needs to be international, not just inter-state. The state boards need to merge with the AICPA and become task forces of a united body, so that we can concentrate our efforts and present a united front. Yes, for historical reasons, the accreditation of CPA’s needs to be done at the state level, but in this age of instant communications, can’t we administer the program centrally?

Canadian Chartered Accountants face the same issue with the same results. We have the Canadian Institute of Chartered Accountants (CICA) nationally and provincial institutes such as the Institute of Chartered Accountants of Ontario. It just seems to me to be such as waste to have two levels of administration when one would work.

What do you think?