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Highlights.

* In October the AICPA membership approved by a 7-to-1 ratio two amendments to the Institute's bylaws, as proposed by the professional ethics executive committee (PEEC) and recommended by council (www.aicpa.org/download/news/press_statement_ethics_vote.pdf). The measures strengthen the Institute's ethics enforcement process by increasing its timeliness and transparency.

The first bylaw revision enables the AICPA to "automatically" sanction--without an investigation--members against whom disciplinary action has been taken by a state board of accountancy or a regulatory authority approved by the PEEC and the board of directors. To ensure due process, both the member and the PEEC can appeal the automatic sanction to the joint trial board.

The second change enhances the transparency of the AICPA's disciplinary findings by allowing the PEEC to make more relevant disclosures about the matters it has investigated, including release--to a complainant--of the results of an investigation.

A summary of the amendments is posted at www.aicpa.org/enforcement. (Also see Official Releases, page 103.)

* At its fall meeting, council voted to accept the board of directors' recommendation to retain the Institute's three specialty credentials and increase financial support for them (www.aicpa.org/download/news/2003_10_21_retain_credentials.pdf). It also agreed that the AICPA should develop marketing tools to help credential holders promote their designations locally and that performance goals newly established for each program should be met.

* In another vote, council approved a resolution to admit to the auditing standards board (ASB) non-CPAs, including financial statement users, regulators and members of the public (www.aicpa.org/download/news/AICPA_expands_membership_on _auditing_standards_board.pdf). This action increases to 19 from 16 membership on the board, which will continue to set auditing standards for nonpublic entities. The ASB will develop auditing, attestation and quality-control standards for nonpublic engagements, contribute to the development of national and international auditing and assurance standards and provide clear and practical guidance for implementing such standards.

* Following the Public Company Accounting Oversight Board's assumption of several of the functions of the SEC practice section, council endorsed a plan to restructure and replace the section with a new voluntary firm membership organization--the Center for Public Company Audit Firms--that will support and enhance the performance of firms that audit public companies (www.aicpa.org/news/2003/2003_fall_council_03.asp). The center will begin operations in January. Susan Coffey, AICPA vice-president for self-regulation, said, "(It) will work to enhance the quality of member firms' public company audit practices, communicate with them on important issues and represent their positions before the PCAOB and the SEC." The center also will administer a peer review program--focusing on member firms' non-SEC audit activities--that will serve as a bridge between the PCAOB's inspections and other federal regulatory practice-monitoring and state licensing requirements. All CPA firms--even those that do not audit public companies--are eligible for membership.

* The AICPA extended its commitment to strengthening the quality of audits when council approved a resolution authorizing the establishment of two voluntary firm membership organizations, known as audit quality centers--one for firms that perform employee-benefit plan audits and the other for firms performing audits subject to government auditing standards (www.aicpa.org/news/2003/ 2003_fall_council_04.asp). The centers will offer members best practices and guidelines, as well as tools for working in specialized practice areas. Member firms will be able to network with each other via a Web-based forum, through which they ,also will receive specialized news and information. The employee-benefit-plan and government audit quality centers are scheduled to begin admitting firms in May and August 2004, respectively.
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Publication:Journal of Accountancy
Date:Dec 1, 2003
Words:599
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