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Ballots on Bylaw amendments due October 18--members express views on proposals.

Last month, members were sent a mail ballot that contained proposals to amend the AICPA bylaws in order to implement enhancements to the Institute's ethics enforcement process. Members who have not yet received a ballot packet should either call 888/637-3277 to obtain a new packet or go to the AICPA Web site at to download the ballot, cover letter and referendum booklet that explains the proposals. However, if you choose to download the ballot material, you must follow the instructions on the Web site (including inserting your membership number and signing the ballot). Using the applicable mailing instructions, mail the ballot to the independent tabulator. In addition to the ballot material, a variety of other explanatory material with regard to proposals and enhancements to the ethics process can be found on that Web page. Members may also find information about the proposals in the June and July/Aug. issues of The CPA Letter and in the Aug. Journal of Accountancy.

All ballots must be returned to the independent tabulator, IVS Associates, Inc., by mail; no other method will be accepted. IVS must receive your signed ballot by close of business (Eastern Time) on Oct. 18, 2003, for your ballot to be counted. A twothirds majority of those voting on each of the measures is required for it to pass.

Summary of Members' Views on Bylaw Proposals

Members were invited to express their views on the proposed changes (The CPA Letter, June, July/Aug.) to the AICPA bylaws in connection with two proposals to enhance the AICPA's ethics enforcement process. The first proposal broadens and extends the AICPA's current authority regarding "automatic" sanctions. It would allow the Professional Ethics Executive Committee to automatically sanction an AICPA member without an investigation if the member is disciplined by any governmental agency or organization approved by the PEEC and the AICPA Board of Directors. In addition, it would expand existing automatic provisions to include admonishments, censures and any other disciplinary sanctions meted out by state boards of accountancy (currently, the provisions permit automatic action only when a state board terminates or suspends a member's CPA license or permit to practice).

The second proposal would establish a new policy for expanded transparency that would allow the PEEC, with approval by the governing Council, to provide for more relevant disclosures about the matters it has investigated, including disclosure of the results of an investigation to a complainant.

By the comment deadline, 9 letters on the proposals had been received. Five of the letters were in favor of both proposals while two were against both. In addition, one letter was against Proposal 1 (automatic sanctioning) but in favor of Proposal 2 (enhanced transparency). Another letter was against Proposal 1 but did not comment on Proposal 2.

One member in favor of both proposals said he was glad to see the AICPA taking a more aggressive approach to the disciplinary problem, while another member suggested the new ethics section of the bylaws be highly publicized to the American public. Of those against both proposals, one member believed no changes to the bylaws will prove that as a profession we are still the same group filled with integrity as we have always been and adopting changes to show action to the press is wrong. Another member believed the changes are too late and the AICPA has compromised its standing in the eyes of many.

With respect to Proposal 1, one member in favor said the accounting profession has to be truly self-policing if it is to avoid any significant degree of further third-party (governmental) policing and the AICPA must have the authority to efficiently impose meaningful sanctions on members found to have been sanctioned by other agencies or organizations. Of those against this proposal, one member believed the AICPA should not subordinate its judgment to regulators and other organizations because organizations such as the Internal Revenue Service, Securities and Exchange Commission, and Public Company Accounting Oversight Board do not have the enforcement of the professional and ethical standards of the accounting profession as their primary missions, and none will look to the best interest of the profession. Another member felt that while automatic discipline might be appropriate most of the time, the AICPA's role as a membership organization is first to its members and, therefore, there should be a certain level of due diligence before agreeing with the facts and circumstances of the other disciplinary body. With respect to Proposal 2, one member in favor said open and candid proceedings are in the public interest and increasing the transparency of our process will enhance the public perception of the profession, but questioned whether Proposal 2 would achieve that goal. Another member said the general public must have the ability to find out the nature of disciplinary actions directed against AICPA members if the public is to have real confidence in AICPA members.
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Title Annotation:Professional Ethics Executive Committee; Members
Publication:CPA Letter
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:Sep 1, 2003
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