With a combination of vindication, irony, frustration and encouragement, we read the American Institute of CPAs' reply (May 2011, page 16) to our March column ("IFRS non-vergence," page 19), in which we called the institute's management to account for relentlessly pursuing the losing side on the issue of whether U.S. GAAP should be replaced by IFRS.
We are vindicated because we know that management read the column and thus is aware that we, and others, do not support their decision to wage this campaign.
We sensed irony, however, in that they chose to defend (with half-truths) only the 10 percent of our column that addressed the unfairness of putting IFRS on the CPA Exam, and ignored the far more substantive 90 percent that pointed out why the International Accounting Standards Board and IFRS should not, and will not, replace the Financial Accounting Standards Board and GAAP. We suggest they may have been hoping to divert attention from that main problem. We also noted that they did not discredit our premise that fair professional exams follow practice and do not lead it.
The frustration exists because they continue denying the unconquerable obstacles that will clearly keep GAAP from being replaced by IFRS. In particular, they claim that Securities and Exchange Commission Chairman Mary Schapiro somehow supports a wholesale replacement of GAAP with IFRS. A careful analysis would show that she always precedes comments about adopting IFRS with an obvious "if" that clearly signals that the change is but one option under consideration and is not a foregone conclusion. Somehow, the AICPA management consistently ignores that "if" in its official communications.
How, then, are we encouraged? In a back-handed way, this inadequate response shows that they really don't understand their mistakes or comprehend how their vulnerability increases as they refuse to confront them. This single-minded disregarding of dissent will inevitably lead to even more mistakes and further detachment from the majority of institute members and their daily realities.
In summary, we stand by every word in the column, and all others in which we have criticized the AICPA. We call on our readers to express their own dissatisfaction and even disaffection with the inappropriate direction in which the institute's managers are headed. We know you are out there because we've heard from more than a few of you.
Prof. Paul B.W. Miller and Prof. Paul R. Bahnson
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