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State Board Report

March 2014

The extent to which Accountancy Boards do background checks on CPA candidates and/or renewing licensees varies significantly among states, a recent poll conducted by Virginia Board of Accountancy Executive Director Wade A. Jewell found. At the Executive Directors Conference the results of the poll, which included responses from 45 jurisdictions, were weighed by the Executive Directors and questions were raised about what the public expects. States that are doing more in-depth checks feel that the public expects them to do this, even though relatively few problems have been discovered, while those who rely on self-reporting by candidates and licensees wondered if the cost and delay are justified.

The costs for the reported background checks range from $49.00 paid by the applicant in California to $1.00 included in the application fee in Texas. Among the sources of information for the background checks for the Boards are: state police, FBI, State Bureau of Investigation, sheriff, live scan, justice system, Social Security number and date of birth, Pacer (Federal Court System) and Google. FBI background checks on reciprocals and licensees with recent criminal history are being done by the Texas Board. The California Board implemented mandatory retroactive fingerprinting for licensees in 2013.

Mr. Jewell also asked the Executive Directors if they had taken action in response to CPA Examination candidates who take the tests multiple times and never pass a section. The Virginia Board had one candidate take the Examination 140 times without passing a single section. In response, the Virginia Board has instituted a policy that applicants who have taken combined sections of the Examination more than 40 times will be required to come before an Informal Fact Finding hearing of the Board to present evidence of their intent to pass the Examination.

Mr. Jewell said Virginia has contacted seven individuals under this policy. Three never responded, one transferred grades to another jurisdiction, and three were given two years to completely pass the Examination.

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