New York (Sept. 15, 2003) -- The task force studying the American Institute of CPAs’ governing Council wants members of the decision-making body be elected more democratically, have better access to information on issues they’ll be voting on, and to toe the party line once Council has taken a stand.

The seven-member task force, appointed in February by AICPA chairman Bill Ezzell, was charged with evaluating how representatives are elected to Council and how Council conducts its activities, as well as communications and its relationships with the AICPA’s membership and Board of Directors.

The group was formed in response to issues raised by the Massachusetts and New York State CPA Societies, which had both proposed separate resolutions last year to create a task force to look at the Council’s structure and role.

Both societies expressed dismay over Council’s vote to approve creation of a global credential last year, which was then soundly defeated by the membership at large, leading many AICPA members to question why Council ever spent the time and effort to bring it to a vote in the first place.

The 14 recommendations in the report respond to the Massachusetts Society’s proposal, but many appear to address technical, rather than substantive, concerns. The New York Society’s proposal was not formally considered by this task force, but Ezzell left open the possibility that the group could include an addendum of additional recommendations if it saw fit. No addendum was included in the press release sent out by the AICPA.

The task force recommended that Council adopt a resolution urging state societies to use a democratic process in electing Council members, and that the Board investigate ways to provide Council with more timely and comprehensive information on issues under discussion, including pro and con perspectives. It also said that once Council has deliberated and acted as a body, “each member should present the endorsed view of Council.”

Among the other recommendations:

  • Having Council and Board members sign a Statement of Responsibilities upon accepting their position;
  • Changing Council’s meeting schedule to one full meeting and up to three regional meetings a year, rather than the current two full meetings and one set of regional meetings;
  • Making attendance at Council meetings mandatory, with any member who misses three consecutive meetings forfeiting their seat;
  • Making Council members’ terms two years, with a maximum of six consecutive years, to allow more members to serve; and
  • Having a forum open to all AICPA members at every Council meeting.

Other recommendations included: a mechanism to enable Council members to suggest items for Board and Council agendas in advance of meetings; more extensive training through the New Council Member Orientation program; breakout sessions and electronic polling as regular parts of Council proceedings; permitting Council to vote by electronic ballot when not in session; and electing new Council members at the Spring meeting and having them assume their positions on Aug. 1, the first day of the AICPA’s fiscal year.Council members will consider the task force recommendations at its Fall meeting next month in New Orleans.
-- WebCPA staff

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