State Board Report

October 2012

Baseball legend Yogi Berra was probably known as much for his witty, off-the-cuff comments that made us stop, think and laugh as for his playing career. I can’t help but use a few Yogi-isms to reflect on this past year.

“It’s déjà vue, all over again.”

We knew this year at NASBA would be a unique time of opportunity, certainly not be déjà vue all over again.

“You can observe a lot by just watching.”

We all watched Ken Bishop on January 2, the day he became NASBA’s President and CEO, as he spoke of going “back to our roots.” He stressed that while change is critical, so is the need to uphold our core mission and build strong relationships. This evolved into what Ryan Hirsch, NASBA’s manager of multi-media, described in the simple yet powerful phrase: “Mission Driven, Member Focused.” Or did he say “Member Driven, Mission Focused”? It doesn’t matter, either way, it works every time.

We observed a lot by watching what has jokingly been called the new “Ken-O-Vision,” a constant stream of daily events affecting our 55 Boards, as displayed on monitors installed in NASBA’s halls in Nashville and in the new conference room in New York City. The listings are a constant reminder of our commitment to member service.

“When you come to a fork in the road, take it.”

As part of our “Mission Driven, Member Focused” initiative, we’ve taken new approaches to improving NASBA’s products and services for our customers and member Boards. Processing candidate eligibility that used to take five weeks, CPAES now accomplishes in only five days — that’s incredible! Members used to receive their Committee Handbook & State Board Listing annually. Now, like clockwork, the Handbook is refreshed and available the first week of each month. Similarly, the NASBA’s Report on the CPA Exam is moving towards containing real-time data with on-demand publishing. Enhancements in NASBA’s member database are helping us get to know new State Board members and executive directors before they even attend their first NASBA conference. Increased visits to State Boards’ meetings, NASBA U executive director orientation sessions, and even Facebook searches have strengthened our connections even more.

Senior Vice President and CFO Michael Bryant presented NASBA’s approach to the “love your work” and FISH! principles at the Executive Directors Conference and our Regional Meetings. Does NASBA staff really have productive fun in what they do? Yes – and they love to share it. One great example of this put into practice was when the Accountancy Licensee Database Committee created a motivational race called “40 by 40” (40 jurisdictions live on ALD by a staffer’s 40th birthday). What a way to improve productivity!

At the Regional Meetings, we took a new path down the road to staying member focused by asking what our volunteers think. The Goldfish Bowl contest received an amazing 76 responses — one of which urged the creation of CPA Verify and Ken-o-Vision mobile apps. Other suggestions will help us improve communications, clear pathways to licensure, expand on-line submissions by candidates, and better engage our Boards’ public members. We’ve taken each submission seriously, and these ideas will benefit the public.

“If you don’t know where you are going, you might wind up someplace else.”

NASBA is looking ahead to ensure our continued viability and growth. Previously, NASBA’s strategic plans were essentially crafted and implemented by staff. This year, we asked for a member-driven plan. The 14 members of the Strategic Planning Group will soon roll out for consideration NASBA’s new mission, vision, values and objectives that were crafted with precision. Immediately upon adoption, NASBA staff and committees will begin to demonstrate a link from the specific objectives found in the plan to their respective responsibilities.

Occasionally we will invoke a new vetting process asking your Regional Directors to review, and either reject or approve, an opinion letter drafted by the Regulatory Response Committee with other committees. This method expands our State Boards’ voice in response to calls for opinions on standards, policies and legislation. The voice of more states adds value and strength to our association.

“Thank you for making this day necessary.”

In his career Yogi Berra was a catcher, outfielder, manager and coach. He brought multiple talents to his teams. We have a number of State Board “MVPs” who will soon retire from their teams. Many, including Patti Soukup, Susan Cochran, Mike Henderson, Gary Fish, Lamar Harris, Ron Rotaru and Bob Cagnasola, have been the best of regulators, mentors and friends. We’re sad to see each person go, yet we always welcome the waves of energy from new volunteers. NASBA is here only because of your commitment.

“It ain’t over ’til it’s over.”

When asked the time of day, Yogi would always say, “You mean now?” Well now it’s time for me to say: Thank you for your service to the public, your Board of Accountancy, our member Boards, and to the accountancy profession that Americans rely upon every day. It isn’t over ’til it’s over, and our association — and your State Board — have many more exciting days to come.

— Mark P. Harris, CPA

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