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State Board Report

January 2014

On January 3 The Tennessean’s headline read: “Munchak Set to Return.” For those who are unfamiliar with Nashville’s professional football team, the Tennessee Titans, “Munchak” is Mike Munchak, the Titan’s head coach. For the last five years (three of which Munchak coached), the Titans’ winning record was somewhat dismal, certainly not the worst in the league, but mediocre at best. The ironic part of this story is that other NFL coaches with superior winning records have been fired while Munchak has been kept on. A closer look at some of those changes reveals that the fired coaches had experienced a couple of bad years — right after some great years. Those teams and their fans had an expectation of success, while others may have grown accustomed to poorer results. *

Now what does this have to do with NASBA? At our Annual Meeting and in recent articles, NASBA has been doing a bit of chest thumping about the tremendous year we had in 2013. We reveled in the fact that it was our best financial year on record, that we provided the most direct support to Boards of Accountancy in our history, and that we topped it all off with tremendous business success and great evaluations of our 2013 conferences and meetings. Problem is: That was last year and we are now in 2014 (both calendar and fiscal years), and what are we going to do this year?

I can tell you unequivocally that NASBA’s leadership and staff will never be satisfied with mediocrity. We are constantly evaluating and measuring performance, working to improve our quality, service and value to Boards of Accountancy and, most importantly, continuing to ramp up our efforts and resources to fulfill our mission of enhancing the effectiveness and advancing the common interests of the Boards of Accountancy. NASBA Chair Carlos Johnson’s stated goal of enhancing NASBA’s brand and name recognition by national and international bodies and organizations is a key focus for the year, as is his mandate to insure that Boards of Accountancy have a better understanding and increased participation and influence in the area of accounting education. Those policy efforts are already well underway.

As Dr. Johnson stressed in his inaugural address, the importance of NASBA and Boards of Accountancy branding and name recognition is paramount to the continued growth of relevance of the State Boards. Every State Board and State Board member can play a role in that effort. Do your state legislators know what the Board of Accountancy does? Do they know what NASBA does? NASBA has invested significant time and resources to educate relevant stakeholders about the importance of the role of State Boards, but a grassroots effort by our member Boards can only amplify that effort. In 2014 we would like to see a dedicated commitment to improve our “branding.” NASBA can and will provide State Boards with resources to enhance that effort. Newsletters, annual reports to legislators and governors and public educational videos can be extremely successful in promoting the recognition and importance of Boards of Accountancy.

Neither State Boards nor NASBA have traditionally had a major role in the creation of guidelines for accounting education. As a key component of the prerequisites of licensure as a certified public accountant, we believe that there is a strong argument that Boards of Accountancy should have an impact on this area. NASBA, through its CPA Examination Services (CPAES) and NASBA International Evaluation Services (NIES), is responsible for the evaluation of education for determination of examination eligibility (and ultimately licensure) of thousands of candidates. In that role, and as the central repository for many related records, NASBA is in a good place to monitor changes in education methodologies and acceptable courses and degrees, including some alternative pathways that may be of concern to State Boards. Dr. Johnson’s assertion that NASBA and Boards of Accountancy should be at the table when there are discussions about education is well founded as has been our expectation of strong participation in the development, delivery and determination of pass rates for the Uniform CPA Examination.

2014 is going to be an important and busy year for NASBA. In addition to the above mentioned issues and opportunities, we are expecting legislative challenges and successes in several of our states and territories this year. Through our Legislative Support office, we are already deeply involved in helping to draft, communicate and pass legislation around the country. We continue to monitor any and all legislation countrywide that might impact Boards of Accountancy. We will contact any State Board that is impacted to make sure you are aware of the legislative activity, but most importantly to offer our support and resources — if needed.

So, when considering, “What have you (NASBA) done for me (Boards of Accountancy) lately?” I am pleased to respond: “A lot — and we intend to do more.” We want 2014 to be another winning season. It is my wish that each and every NASBA member board has a happy, prosperous and safe new year. NASBA will never accept mediocrity and we are here for you!

Semper ad meliora. (Always toward better things.)

— Ken L. Bishop
President and CEO

* POSTSCRIPT: On January 5, after this Memo was written, the Titans reversed their decision and fired Coach Munchak. Maybe they too elected not to accept mediocrity.

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