The International Federation of Accountants has released a policy position paper to address how the accounting profession should be acting in the public interest, with a proposed definitional framework outlining those responsibilities.

The position paper, "A Public Interest Framework for the Accountancy Profession," has been released for public comment. In order to consider and address issues in the accountancy profession on a consistent and clearly articulated basis, IFAC has developed a principles-based framework of the public interest, which can be applied to standard-setting, governance processes, policy analysis, and regulatory issues. Although mainly designed for use by IFAC itself, it may also be useful to the accountancy profession as well as policymakers, regulators, and business leaders.

IFAC considers that the accountancy profession, in serving the public interest, should be evaluated against three criteria: 1) consideration of costs and benefits for society as a whole; 2) adherence to democratic principles and processes; and 3) respect for cultural and ethical diversity. These criteria enable IFAC to assess the extent to which any policy, action, process, or condition is in the public interest.

“For IFAC to play its part in the financial system, we must be sure that our actions are consistent with the public interest. The primary purposes of this paper are to explain how we understand the public interest, and to be transparent about how we will use that understanding to shape our decisions and actions,” said IFAC CEO Ian Ball in a statement. “By exposing this paper for public comment, we seek both to receive input that can help us finalize our position and to stimulate other organizations to articulate how they interpret this fundamental concept.”

To access the exposure draft or submit a comment, visit IFAC’s website at Comments on the exposure draft are requested by March 25, 2011.

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