I am writing this month’s President’s Memo as we are finalizing plans for NASBA’s upcoming 36th Annual Conference for Executive Directors and Board Staff and the 23rd Annual Conference for Board of Accountancy Legal Counsel. Just last evening I received a call from an Executive Director to iron out a wrinkle in the agenda of the upcoming conference. Yesterday I also received an e-mail from a NASBA staff director relaying some suggestions from a conversation with Randy Ross, Chair of our Executive Directors Committee. Neither of these conversations were an anomaly nor unusual. Weekly, if not daily, communication is being shared among NASBA staff and the Boards of Accountancy’s Executive Directors, Staff, or Legal Counsel across the country. Often those conversations result directly from NASBA reaching out to the folks who are truly the “boots on the ground,” who do the heavy lifting in the day-to-day aspects of the protection of the public.
NASBA, like most Boards of Accountancy, is governed by volunteers who are typically gubernatorial appointments entrusted to make policy recommendations and decisions in the public interest based on their knowledge of the CPA profession and their understanding of the current business and regulatory environment. Those decisions are managed and implemented by professional staff. Because of the statutory term limits of Accountancy Board members, the Boards’ Executives and Staff provide the continuity and support the consistent application of statutes, rules and policies. Similarly, Boards’ Legal Counsel provide the interpretive guidance and direction to ensure the Boards’ actions, including disciplinary cases, are correctly and fairly conducted.
In order to accomplish NASBA’s primary mission to “Enhance the effectiveness and advance the common interests of the Boards of Accountancy,” the relationships and interactions with Board Staff and Legal Counsel are vital. NASBA’s Executive Director and Staff Conference, and Board Legal Counsel Conference are critical components of our success, and they provide Staff and Counsel the opportunity to develop helpful relationships with their peers, to interact and exchange information and ideas, and to reach consensus on effective responses to major issues. These conferences present not only practical tips and techniques, but also the chance to hear from leaders in the profession, federal regulators, educators and others as to their latest activities including CPA Examination changes, progress in international mutual recognition agreement negotiations, and developments in education and peer review.
Board of Accountancy Members are well-aware of the important role of Board Staff and Legal Counsel. However, Board Members may be less aware of the Staff’s continuous interaction with NASBA and the resultant impact on so much of what we do. The Chair of the Executive Directors Committee serves as a liaison to the NASBA Board of Directors, which includes participation in the AICPA/NASBA Summits. He provides a conduit of information, conveying grassroots’ perspectives and guidance to leadership and bringing the Boards’ Staff insight into the leaders’ deliberative processes.
Executive Directors serving on various NASBA committees and task forces bring invaluable expertise and insight into how we implement new ideas. They regularly assist us in bringing the Regional Directors’ Focus Questions to the Boards for discussion, which helps guide the development of NASBA’s programs and policies. When called upon by fellow Executive Directors, they respond to Quick Polls to share current practices. The Accountancy Licensee Database, which buttresses CPA mobility, is supported by the efforts of the Executive Directors and Staff. The candidate database could not be created without their cooperation. Board newsletters would not appear without the Executive Directors’ commitment to reach out to the Boards’ stakeholders. Frequently it is the Executive Directors who encourage new Accountancy Board Members to become active participants in NASBA by attending our orientation sessions and Regional Meetings, and the Executive Directors set in motion the scholarships that support their attendance. These are just a few of the NASBA-related roles the Executive Directors play in ordinary times, not to mention all the help they offer when the operations of a Board are threatened and special assistance is called for.
No one would ever suggest that our hard-working Executive Directors, Board Staff or Legal Counsel are taken for granted, but occasionally we all need to pause and reflect on their significant contributions to the effective regulation of the accounting profession. One way of doing that is to join me in giving a big “Thank You” to Executive Directors, Board Staff and Legal Counsel: We appreciate all you do.
Semper ad meliora (Always toward better things).
— Ken L. Bishop
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