Calling it a year of "significant transformation" at the American Institute of CPAs, president and chief executive Barry Melancon updated members of the Governing Council on a number of institute initiatives, including progress on the relocation of major AICPA functions to Durham, N.C., advocacy and outreach programs, peer review and the institute's push for private company financial reporting.

Melancon told attendees at the spring meeting of council that 28 managers have already relocated to Durham, and that the key components of the move are moving along the projected time frames.

"We've wrestled with difficult and emotional issues," Melancon told attendees during his semi-annual president's report. "There's a knowledge transfer [with the move] and the question of how do we build the right culture in Durham?"

With regard to peer review, the institute has been involved in a transparency initiative, where results of peer review would be shared within states where peer review is a requirement for licensing. He said that under the current peer review process, there could be significant differences in peer review from state to state.

"This will involve some heavy lifting," said Melancon, who said that the AICPA's Peer Review Board is preparing for a member ballot on the issue -- which from inception to member vote would span roughly 18 months.

The AICPA has also created a committee on mobility chaired by former AICPA chair Scott Voynich. The committee will work toward allowing firms and CPAs to operate in multiple states working within both regulatory and state guidelines.

"They must have an environment in which to do that," said Melancon.

With regard to its push for private company financial reporting, an institute task force has been working on an exposure draft with the Financial Accounting Standards Board on private company GAAP.

Arleen Thomas, senior vice president of member competency and development at the institute, said that 101,000 people sat for the CPA exam last year, versus 68,000 in the first year that the four-part test became computer-based.

Thomas told WebCPA that the pass rate for the paper-based exam hovered between 27 percent and 32 percent, while that figure has risen to 40 percent to 45 percent on the computer-based test. Thomas attributed the higher pass rate to the fact that on the paper-based exam, a candidate had to sit for all four parts, while the CBT allows you to schedule each section at different times.

Meanwhile, a motion to extend the AICPA's Honorary Lifetime Membership status from 40 years to 50 years was soundly defeated by members of Council.

Separately, Ralph Bender, chief financial officer at Manship Media in Baton Rouge, La., and Kraft CPAs LLC of Nashville, Tenn., received the AICPA's 2005 Public Service Awards.

Bender was cited for his community service -- he has served on the boards of more than 20 organizations, including United Way and Junior Achievement, while the firm of KraftCPAs received the award for its commitment and visibility in the Nashville area. KraftCPAs' members and employees serve as committee chairs or on the boards of more than 60 area nonprofit groups.

Previously on WebCPA: AICPA Opens Spring Council Meeting (May 23, 2006)

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