Streamlining ethics enforcement: it's time the profession sped up the ethics enforcement process and let the public see how it works.
* THE AICPA'S ETHICS ENFORCEMENT PROCESS must be swift and open to outsiders' scrutiny if the profession hopes to maintain public confidence.
* IF A STATE BOARD OF ACCOUNTANCY suspends, revokes, withdraws or cancels a member's certificate, permit or license to practice public accounting, the AICPA AICPA
See American Institute of Certified Public Accountants (AICPA). automatically suspends or terminates his or her membership, as in the current process. But if the state board instead metes out any other disciplinary or remedial REMEDIAL. That which affords a remedy; as, a remedial statute, or one which is made to supply some defects or abridge some superfluities of the common law. 1 131. Com. 86. The term remedial statute is also applied to those acts which give a new remedy. Esp. Pen. Act. 1. sanction sanction, in law and ethics, any inducement to individuals or groups to follow or refrain from following a particular course of conduct. All societies impose sanctions on their members in order to encourage approved behavior. or penalty, the PEEC PEEC Pocono Environmental Education Center (Pennsylvania)
PEEC Partial Element Equivalent Circuit
PEEC Programmed Escape from the Evolution of Cancer
PEEC Provincial Environmental Education Centers then investigates the member. On average, that takes roughly 18 months. The AICPA is proposing that, in such cases, it automatically discipline the member instead of conducting another investigation.
* WHENEVER A GOVERNMENT AGENCY such as the SEC, or other organization authorized au·thor·ize
tr.v. au·thor·ized, au·thor·iz·ing, au·thor·iz·es
1. To grant authority or power to.
2. To give permission for; sanction: to regulate accountants, takes action to, for example, publicly restrict or prohibit pro·hib·it
tr.v. pro·hib·it·ed, pro·hib·it·ing, pro·hib·its
1. To forbid by authority: Smoking is prohibited in most theaters. See Synonyms at forbid.
2. a member from practice before it, the PEEC must conduct its own investigation of the member. A new proposal would have it automatically suspend or terminate that individual's membership.
* UNDER CURRENT RULES, members have the right to appeal the automatic provisions of the bylaws The rules and regulations enacted by an association or a corporation to provide a framework for its operation and management.
Bylaws may specify the qualifications, rights, and liabilities of membership, and the powers, duties, and grounds for the dissolution of an but the PEEC does not. The AICPA therefore is proposing that the PEEC be permitted to appeal to the joint trial board, asking that the automatic provisions not become operative OPERATIVE. A workman; one employed to perform labor for another.
2. This word is used in the bankrupt law of 19th August, 1841, s. 5, which directs that any person who shall have performed any labor as an operative in the service of any bankrupt shall be and that instead the PEEC be given permission to investigate the matter.
* COMPLAINANTS CURRENTLY ARE NOTIFIED of the end of an investigation but not its disposition. The AICPA is proposing that complainants be informed of the results of its investigation, including remedial or corrective action A corrective action is a change implemented to address a weakness identified in a management system. Normally corrective actions are instigated in response to a customer complaint, abnormal levels if internal nonconformity, nonconformities identified during an internal audit or taken, if any.
* WHEN REPORTS OF DISCIPLINARY MATTERS are published, they reveal only the member's name, city and state of residence and a description of the charges and terms of the settlement agreement. The AICPA is proposing that the PEEC have the flexibility to disclose additional information about a matter investigated, subject to the council's review and approval.
In mid- mid-
Middle: midbrain. 2001, well before the media focused on Enron Enron
A U.S. energy-trading and utilities company that housed one of the biggest accounting frauds in history. Enron's executives employed accounting practices that falsely inflated the company's revenues, which, at the height of the scandal, made the firm become the seventh and its independent auditors Independent Auditor
An external auditor with a certified public accounting designation that qualifies him or her to provide an auditor's report.
These auditors aren't affiliated with the company being audited. , the Institute's professional ethics professional ethics,
n the rules governing the conduct, transactions, and relationships within a profession and among its publics.
professional ethics liability,
n 1. executive committee (PEEC) had established a task force to evaluate the AICPA's disciplinary process and develop recommendations to improve it. This article explains the latest developments in the PEEC's efforts, what they mean to the profession and how individual practitioners can support them in an upcoming member referendum referendum, referral of proposed laws or constitutional amendments to the electorate for final approval. This direct form of legislation, along with the initiative, was known in Greece and other early democracies. .
In May and October October: see month. 2002, representatives of the PEEC presented the AICPA council with several proposals aimed at strengthening ethics enforcement to help restore public and regulator regulator,
n the mechanical part of a gas delivery system that controls gas pressure that allows a manageable flow of drug vapor to escape.
see reducing valve. confidence in the profession. Based on the council's response, the PEEC implemented a more transparent system, making it easier for observers to determine what sanctions Sanctions is the plural of sanction. Depending on context, a sanction can be either a punishment or a permission. The word is a contronym.
Sanctions involving countries:
At the council's spring 2003 meeting, the PEEC presented three more enforcement-related proposals. Following extensive deliberation deliberation n. the act of considering, discussing, and, hopefully, reaching a conclusion, such as a jury's discussions, voting and decision-making.
DELIBERATION, contracts, crimes. , the council approved them. One proposal, which required approval by the council only, is effective already. It enables the PEEC to publicly admonish an AICPA member who has violated vi·o·late
tr.v. vi·o·lat·ed, vi·o·lat·ing, vi·o·lates
1. To break or disregard (a law or promise, for example).
2. To assault (a person) sexually.
3. the Code of Professional Conduct when other sanctions--whether more restrictive (suspension of membership) or less so (issuance of a private letter of required corrective action)--are inappropriate. Adoption of this proposal aligns the Institute's approach to discipline with that of other bodies, including the joint trial board and state and federal regulators. But the other two proposals, described below, need approval from the membership before they can be implemented. In late August or early September September: see month. , therefore, members will receive information and ballots for use in a referendum on these issues.
This proposal would establish an ethics enforcement policy allowing the PEEC to automatically sanction without an investigation an AICPA member who has been disciplined by a government agency or other organization authorized to regulate accountants and approved and designated to do so by the AICPA board of directors. Examples are the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) and the Public Company Accounting Oversight Board The Public Company Accounting Oversight Board (or PCAOB) (sometimes called "Peekaboo") is a private-sector, non-profit corporation created by the Sarbanes-Oxley Act, a 2002 United States federal law, to oversee the auditors of public companies. (PCAOB PCAOB Public Company Accounting Oversight Board ). (Note that, as a result of certain criminal or income-tax-related violations or state board of accountancy actions, the AICPA bylaws already give the PEEC the ability to impose an automatic sanction against a member without an investigation or hearing.)
This proposal would protect the CPA hallmark hallmark, mark impressed on silverwork or goldwork to signify official approval of the standard of purity of the metal, also called plate mark. The hallmark was introduced by statute in England in 1300 and enforced by the Goldsmiths' Hall, London. and members in good standing by making the AICPA's enforcement process more timely while ensuring that members under investigation have an opportunity to present a defense.
Clearly the AICPA needs a mechanism to discipline its members when warranted. But the PEEC should be able to rely on the disciplinary actions of state boards state boards Examinations administered by a US state board of medical examiners to license a physician in a particular state; these examinations play an ever-decreasing role in state medical licensure, as these bodies now rely on standardized national examinations of accountancy and certain board-approved bodies without having to perform a full investigation. Conducting an investigation is a time-consuming time-con·sum·ing
Taking up much time.
taking up a great deal of time
Adj. 1. process requiring significant resources, and some ask why the AICPA investigates matters already considered by entities whose disciplinary systems offer Institute members appropriate due process. Moreover, the current system often subjects members to multiple investigations (for example, by the SEC, state board of accountancy and the AICPA). These issues are examined in greater detail below.
State boards of accountancy. Today, if a state board of accountancy suspends, revokes or cancels a member's certificate or license to practice public accounting, the AICPA automatically suspends or terminates the member's AICPA membership without an investigation. But if the state board metes out any other disciplinary or remedial sanction or penalty (for example, censure/admonishment, monetary penalty or cease and desist order An order issued by an Administrative Agency or a court proscribing a person or a business entity from continuing a particular course of conduct.
The force and effect of a cease and desist order are similar to those of an Injunction issued by a court. ), the PEEC must conduct its own investigation and determine appropriate sanctions. The proposal calls for automatically disciplining the member by means of a sanction that is commensurate com·men·su·rate
1. Of the same size, extent, or duration as another.
2. Corresponding in size or degree; proportionate: a salary commensurate with my performance.
3. with the state board action, thereby obviating ob·vi·ate
tr.v. ob·vi·at·ed, ob·vi·at·ing, ob·vi·ates
To anticipate and dispose of effectively; render unnecessary. See Synonyms at prevent. any additional investigation. The proposal requires the PEEC to develop--and the AICPA board of directors to approve--specific sanctioning sanc·tion
1. Authoritative permission or approval that makes a course of action valid. See Synonyms at permission.
2. Support or encouragement, as from public opinion or established custom.
3. guidelines guidelines,
n.pl a set of standards, criteria, or specifications to be used or followed in the performance of certain tasks. for this purpose.
Approved government agencies and other organizations. Currently, whenever a government agency, such as the SEC, publicly restricts or prohibits a member from practice before it or another government agency or from serving as an officer, director or trustee of any entity, the PEEC must conduct its own investigation. Under the proposal, if the government agency sanctioning the member has in place a disciplinary mechanism the PEEC and board of directors have approved, the member would not be subject to another investigation by the AICPA. Instead, it would automatically discipline him or her commensurately com·men·su·rate
1. Of the same size, extent, or duration as another.
2. Corresponding in size or degree; proportionate: a salary commensurate with my performance.
3. . For example, if the SEC suspended sus·pend
v. sus·pend·ed, sus·pend·ing, sus·pends
1. To bar for a period from a privilege, office, or position, usually as a punishment: suspend a student from school. a member from practicing before it for two years, the Years, The
the seven decades of Eleanor Pargiter’s life. [Br. Lit.: Benét, 1109]
See : Time AICPA would automatically suspend him or her for that same period. If the agency meted out Adj. 1. meted out - given out in portions
apportioned, dealt out, doled out, parceled out
distributed - spread out or scattered about or divided up any other disciplinary or remedial sanction or penalty, the AICPA (that is, the PEEC) would automatically discipline the member but would base its sanction on an evaluation of publicly available information and the specific guidelines the PEEC had developed and the board of directors approved.
Under the proposal, for automatic sanctions to apply, PEEC- and board-approved organizations other than government agencies would have to be authorized by law to regulate accountants, as the PCAOB is. But the PCAOB has not yet formally established its enforcement policies and procedures Policies and Procedures are a set of documents that describe an organization's policies for operation and the procedures necessary to fulfill the policies. They are often initiated because of some external requirement, such as environmental compliance or other governmental . So, when they are in place, the PEEC and the AICPA board will have to determine whether they constitute an acceptable disciplinary mechanism.
Member appeal process. As is the case with the existing automatic provisions of the bylaws, a member automatically sanctioned under the new process would have the right to appeal, as with all disciplinary actions taken by the PEEC, to the AiCPA joint trial board, requesting that the automatic discipline provisions of the bylaws not become operative. If the trial board grants the member's request, the automatic discipline against him or her would not take effect, and the matter would be referred to the PEEC for investigation. If the trial board denies the member's request, the automatic discipline would take effect. Therefore members have suitable protection and recourse The right of an individual who is holding a Commercial Paper, such as a check or promissory note, to receive payment on it from anyone who has signed it if the individual who originally made it is unable, or refuses, to tender payment. to appeal if they believe the action of the disciplinary body, the state board or the PEEC was unjust UNJUST. That which is done against the perfect rights of another; that which is against the established law; that which is opposed to a law which is the test of right and wrong. 1 Toull. tit. prel. n. 5; Aust. Jur. 276, n.; Hein. Lec. El. Sec. 1080. or unwarranted.
PEEC appeal process. AICPA members have always had the ability to appeal the application of automatic disciplinary actions; the PEEC, however, has not. Under the proposal, the PEEC also would have the ability to request that the joint trial board not impose an automatic sanction. For example, in a case where an approved government agency has suspended a member from practice before it, but the PEEC believes--based on its review of the publicly available information--either that the matter was egregious e·gre·gious
Conspicuously bad or offensive. See Synonyms at flagrant.
[From Latin enough to warrant expulsion EXPULSION. The act of depriving a member of a body politic, corporate, or of a society, of his right of membership therein, by the vote of such body or society, for some violation of hi's. from the AICPA or alternatively that the agency's sanction was too harsh, it may appeal. If the joint trial board grants the PEEC's request, the automatic disciplinary action against the member would not become operative and the PEEC would conduct a full investigation of the matter. If the request is denied, the automatic disciplinary action would take effect.
Expected benefits. This proposal would significantly improve the effectiveness of the current ethics enforcement process in a number of ways. It would
* Eliminate putting AICPA members through the investigative process a second--and sometimes third--time when the AICPA believes the state board or an approved disciplinary body has given the member due process.
* Protect members' rights by enabling them to appeal the matter in cases where the state board's or approved disciplinary body's action was unfair or excessive.
* Permit the PEEC to sanction members in a more timely manner. The disciplinary body would take action and make it public immediately instead of waiting until the PEEC's investigative process is complete--on average, 18 months later.
The proposal also would bolster This article is about the pillow called a bolster. For other meanings of the word "bolster", see bolster (disambiguation).
A bolster (etymology: Middle English, derived from Old English, and before that the Germanic word bulgstraz AICPA members' confidence that they belong to an organization that has the highest professional standards and takes decisive action against those not meeting them, and it would enable AICPA staff and ethics committee ethics committee A multidisciplinary hospital body composed of a broad spectrum of personnel–eg, physicians, nurses, social workers, priests, and others, which addresses the moral and ethical issues within the hospital. See DNR, Institutional review board. members to focus on other investigations and ethics projects.
ENHANCED TRANSPARENCY (1) The quality of being able to see through a material. The terms transparency and translucency are often used synonymously; however, transparent would technically mean "seeing through clear glass," while translucent would mean "seeing through frosted glass." See alpha blending.
The second proposal would establish a policy that allows the PEEC--subject to the council's review and approval--to provide the public with more relevant and useful disclosure about matters it has investigated. The proposal also would allow the PEEC to disclose the results of an investigation to an individual or body filing a complaint with the Institute. All sanctions currently imposed by the PEEC that result in admonishment, suspension or expulsion are published in The CPA Letter, on the AICPA Web site (www.aicpa.org See .org.
(networking) org - The top-level domain for organisations or individuals that don't fit any other top-level domain (national, com, edu, or gov). Though many have .org domains, it was never intended to be limited to non-profit organisations.
RFC 1591. ) and--beginning fall 2003--periodically in The Wall Street Journal. Currently, remedial actions A remedial action is a change made to a nonconforming product or service to address the deficiency.
Rework and repair are generally the remedial actions taken on products, while services usually require additional services to be performed to ensure satisfaction. taken against AICPA members (for example, private letters of required corrective action) and matters that are closed with no finding or with a finding of no violation are not published or disclosed except to certain government agencies that had referred such matters to the professional ethics division. Individuals who filed complaints against AICPA members found this nondisclosure nondisclosure Malpractice Negligent nondisclosure, see there Research ethics The withholding of information about financial interests–stocks, consultancy fees, and other arrangements–that a researcher might have in the outcome of a clinical trial of a policy frustrating frus·trate
tr.v. frus·trat·ed, frus·trat·ing, frus·trates
a. To prevent from accomplishing a purpose or fulfilling a desire; thwart: . While complainants were informed when an investigation had concluded, they were not advised as to how the matter was concluded. The proposal before the membership would allow the PEEC to disclose investigation results to people who filed formal complaints with the AICPA. Those who choose to file complaints should be able to find out the results of the investigation.
Providing the public with more relevant and useful information about ethics investigations and disclosure of the results of an investigation to a complainant A plaintiff; a person who commences a civil lawsuit against another, known as the defendant, in order to remedy an alleged wrong. An individual who files a written accusation with the police charging a suspect with the commission of a crime and providing facts to support the allegation are both in the public interest and will help to enhance the credibility of the enforcement process.
THE IMPORTANCE OF VOTING
Over the last year and a half the AICPA has made clear that it won't tolerate tol·er·ate
1. To allow without prohibiting or opposing; permit.
2. To put up with; endure.
3. To have tolerance for a substance or pathogen. violations of the rules of professional practice and that it wants to enhance the quality of services members provide. The Institute remains committed to these causes. Moreover, the public counts on the profession's integrity, objectivity and competence, and it trusts that CPAs will do the right thing. So, it's essential the disciplinary process promote professional conduct that fulfills those expectations and gives the public the confidence to rely on AICPA members. Because these proposals are an important part of enhancing ethics enforcement, it's imperative that every member understand them. Members' support and favorable fa·vor·a·ble
1. Advantageous; helpful: favorable winds.
2. Encouraging; propitious: a favorable diagnosis.
3. vote will demonstrate their commitment to the profession's core values.
What's Up for Vote
* Automatic sanction. State boards of accountancy, government agencies and other organizations routinely discipline AICPA members. Under current AICPA ethics enforcement procedures, if the state board suspends or revokes a member's license to practice, the AICPA automatically suspends or expels the member. But if the state board takes any other disciplinary action or another regulator acts against the member, the PEEC then conducts an investigation that lasts, on average, 18 months. Following that investigation, the AICPA may take disciplinary action against the member, if warranted. Meanwhile, complainants wonder what's taking so long. The proposal on automatic sanctioning would speed up the process by triggering immediate enforcement action corresponding to that of agencies and organizations authorized to regulate accountants. This would improve public confidence in the AICPA's ability to swiftly and effectively enforce its Code of Professional Conduct.
* Enhanced transparency. When an ethics enforcement procedure is finally completed, complainants are notified that the matter is settled but not told how. The proposal on transparency would better publicize pub·li·cize
tr.v. pub·li·cized, pub·li·ciz·ing, pub·li·ciz·es
To give publicity to.
publicize or -cise
[-cizing, -cized] and explain the process, strengthening the public perception the AICPA is ready and able to hold its members to the highest professional standards.
AICPA Web Site Focuses on Proposals
A new "spotlight Spotlight can refer to at least three types of lighting:
Recent PEEC Proposals to Council Proposal Council vote Admonishment sanction Approved member vote not necessary. Automatic sanction Approved for member vote. Enhanced transparency Approved for member vote. Comparison of AICPA Current Enforcement Process to Proposed Enhanced Enforcement Process. Proposal: Enforcement policy concerning disciplinary actions of state boards of accountancy and approved governmental agencies and other organizations. Current process Enhanced process State boards of accountancy. State boards of accountancy. Whenever a state board of Whenever a state board of accountancy accountancy suspends, revokes, suspends, revokes, withdraws, or withdraws or cancels a cancels a member's certificate, member's certificate, permit permit or license to practice public or license to practice public accounting--or the member accounting as a disciplinary surrenders such license--as a measure, the AICPA disciplinary measure, the AICPA automatically suspends or automatically suspends or terminates terminates his or her his or her AICPA membership in membership in accordance with accordance with current bylaws current bylaws. (same as current process). If a state board instead If a state board instead metes out metes out any other any other disciplinary or remedial disciplinary or remedial sanction or penalty (for example, sanction or penalty (for censure/admonishment, monetary example, censure/admonishment, penalty or cease and desist order), monetary penalty or cease and the member would be automatically desist order), the PEEC disciplined. conducts an investigation of the member. Governmental agencies and Governmental agencies and other other organizations. organizations. Whenever a governmental Where the governmental agency or agency, such as the SEC, or other organization that has the other organization that has authority to regulate accountants the authority to regulate has been approved by the PEEC and accountants publicly restricts the board of directors as having or prohibits a member from an acceptable disciplinary mechanism practice before it or another in place, the member would be governmental agency or from automatically suspended or serving as an officer, terminated from the AICPA. director, or trustee of any entity, the PEEC conducts an investigation of the member. If the governmental agency If the governmental agency or or other organization that has other organization that has the the authority to regulate authority to regulate accountants accountants instead metes out instead metes out any other any other disciplinary or disciplinary or remedial sanction or remedial sanction or penalty penalty (for example, (for example, censure/ censure/admonishment, monetary admonishment, monetary penalty penalty or cease and desist order), or cease and desist order), the member would be automatically the PEEC conducts an disciplined. investigation of the member. The AICPA member can appeal The AICPA member can appeal to to the joint trial board, the joint trial board, asking that asking that the automatic the automatic disciplinary provisions disciplinary provisions of the of the bylaws not become operative bylaws not become operative and that the PEEC be allowed to and that the PEEC be allowed conduct a full investigation of to conduct a full the matter (same as current process). investigation of the matter. The PEEC does not have the The PEEC would have the ability ability to appeal the to appeal to the joint trial board, automatic provisions of the asking that the automatic bylaws. disciplinary provisions of the bylaws not become operative and that the PEEC be allowed to conduct a full investigation of the matter. Proposal: Enhanced transparency of disciplinary findings. The complainant (where there The complainant would be is one) is notified that an notified that the investigation investigation has been has been concluded and of the concluded but is not advised results of the investigation, of the PEEC's decision. If including remedial action (such the investigation results in as required CPE) or no violation. publishing of a sanction (for example, suspension or expulsion), the complainant may be referred to the published account of the matter on the AICPA Web site. All other PEEC decisions, including findings of no violation, remain confidential. The published account of a The PEEC would have the flexibility disciplinary matter includes to disclose more information about the respondent's name, his a matter investigated, subject to or her city and state of the council's review and approval. residency, description of the charges and terms of the settlement agreement. Current process Comments State boards of accountancy. Whenever a state board of accountancy suspends, revokes, withdraws or cancels a member's certificate, permit or license to practice public accounting as a disciplinary measure, the AICPA automatically suspends or terminates his or her membership in accordance with current bylaws. If a state board instead Requires revision of AICPA bylaw metes out any other 7.3.2 and conforming changes to disciplinary or remedial bylaw 7.4.5. The sanction under sanction or penalty (for the enhanced process would be example, censure/admonishment, determined by the professional monetary penalty or cease and ethics executive committee (PEEC) desist order), the PEEC based on its evaluation of publicly conducts an investigation of available information and specific the member. sanctioning guidelines developed by it and approved by the AICPA board of directors. Governmental agencies and other organizations. Whenever a governmental Requires revision of AICPA bylaw agency, such as the SEC, or 7.3.2 and conforming changes to other organization that has bylaw 7.4.5. the authority to regulate accountants publicly restricts or prohibits a member from practice before it or another governmental agency or from serving as an officer, director, or trustee of any entity, the PEEC conducts an investigation of the member. If the governmental agency The sanction under the enhanced or other organization that has process would be determined by the authority to regulate the professional ethics executive accountants instead metes out committee (PEEC) based on its any other disciplinary or evaluation of publicly available remedial sanction or penalty information and specific (for example, censure/ sanctioning guidelines developed admonishment, monetary penalty by the PEEC and approved by the or cease and desist order), AICPA board of directors. the PEEC conducts an investigation of the member. The AICPA member can appeal to the joint trial board, asking that the automatic disciplinary provisions of the bylaws not become operative and that the PEEC be allowed to conduct a full investigation of the matter. The PEEC does not have the Would be used by the PEEC, ability to appeal the for example, in cases where the automatic provisions of the disciplinary body suspends the bylaws. member but the PEEC believes the nature of the misconduct was egregious and should possibly result in expulsion or in cases where the disciplinary body permanently restricts a member from practice but the PEEC believes the sanction was too severe. Requires revision of AICPA bylaw 7.3.2 and conforming changes to bylaw 7.4.5. Proposal: Enhanced transparency of disciplinary findings. The complainant (where there Requires revision of AICPA bylaw is one) is notified that an 7.6. investigation has been concluded but is not advised of the PEEC's decision. If the investigation results in publishing of a sanction (for example, suspension or expulsion), the complainant may be referred to the published account of the matter on the AICPA Web site. All other PEEC decisions, including findings of no violation, remain confidential. The published account of a Requires revision of AICPA bylaw disciplinary matter includes 7.6. the respondent's name, his or her city and state of residency, description of the charges and terms of the settlement agreement.
LISA The first personal computer to include integrated software and use a graphical interface. Modeled after the Xerox Star and introduced in 1983 by Apple, it was ahead of its time, but never caught on due to its $10,000 price and slow speed. A. SNYDER, CPA, is director of the AICPA professional ethics division. Her e-mail address See Internet address.
e-mail address - electronic mail address is firstname.lastname@example.org. Ms. Snyder is an employee of the AICPA and her views, as expressed in this article, do not necessarily reflect the views of the Institute. Official positions are determined through certain specific committee procedures, due process and deliberation.