State Board Report

March 2012

Some readers likely noticed my new photograph which highlights the desk sign reading: “The Buck Stops Here.” At the January Board of Directors’ meeting in Florida, Past Chair Michael Daggett and his wife Sharon presented that sign to me. Michael explained that he had seen the sign in the Truman Library and, with my being from Missouri and becoming NASBA’s new President and CEO, that it was an appropriate gift. It is now proudly displayed on my desk.

Most photographs taken of President Truman at his desk in the White House included the “The Buck Stops Here” sign, and the President often referred to it. In an address to the National War College in 1952, Mr. Truman said, “You know it’s easy for the Monday morning quarterback to say what the coach should have done, after the game is over. But when the decision is up before you….and here on my desk, I have a motto which says, ‘The Buck Stops Here’….the decision has to be made.”

Being the new President of NASBA in no way compares to the tremendous pressures that President Truman faced in replacing a hugely popular predecessor in the middle of a world war, but transition and implementing change at NASBA offer opportunities and challenges that bring Mr. Truman’s motto into the forefront.

As I have traveled around the country, or visited by telephone, many of you have made positive comments about our concentration on State Boards through the “Back to Our Roots” initiative. But I have also heard some criticism and suggestions as to how NASBA could do a better job. I cannot overemphasize my appreciation for the candid comments that many of you have shared with me. It is my hope and belief that the transparent sharing of information and recommendations, even if critical, is indicative of a healthy and trusting relationship, the kind of relationship I want to have with every State Board of Accountancy.

Dan Dustin, NASBA’s new Vice President of State Board Relations, and I recently had the opportunity to visit with a State Board that, frankly, has not been very happy with NASBA. Similarly, I received a telephone call from the director of an umbrella agency that is responsible for another Board of Accountancy, which is statutorily an advisory board, to discuss his unhappiness with some of the things NASBA is doing. Upon reflecting on these two recent conversations, and others that I have been privy to through the years, it occurred to me that maybe I should re-appraise my thoughts about NASBA’s mission “to enhance the effectiveness of State Boards of Accountancy.”

Simply said, our mission doesn’t break out, or segregate, which type of State Boards we serve. Whether independent, semiindependent, advisory, big state, little state, well-funded or under-funded, our mission is to enhance the effectiveness of all State Boards. I intend to instill that perspective in all that we do and to be an optimist as President Truman defined one: “A pessimist is one who makes difficulties of his opportunities and an optimist is one who makes opportunities of his difficulties.”

In an earlier President’s Memo, I mentioned that my rule is to “not write checks that can’t be cashed,” which incidentally was another regular Truman quote. Our passion, drive and energy will be to continually improve our capacity to support our State Boards. Will we drop some balls, make some mistakes and not please everyone…we hope not, but likely will. When and if that happens, like my fellow Missourian…”The buck stops here!”

Semper ad meliora. (Always toward better things.)

— Ken L. Bishop
President and CEO

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