NASBA: Bouncing back from the pandemic

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The coronavirus pandemic hit the National Association of State Boards of Accountancy toward the end of its fiscal year, but the organization is fully back to its mission, according to its recently released annual report.

Like many organizations, in March and April, NASBA found itself having to navigate the new remote-work environment, while also watching its resources dwindle drastically.

“With colleges and universities, testing centers and other stakeholders shut down, revenue essentially stopped,” wrote NASBA’s chair, Laurie Tish, president and CEO Ken Bishop, and executive vice president and COO Colleen Conrad in their opening letter to the annual report. “While painful, NASBA leadership reacted quickly and strategically with furloughs, closings and other belt-tightening decisions. As a result, NASBA has been able to continue to provide essential services, protect its assets and successfully implement flexible operational strategies.”

Having begun investing in giving staff the ability to work remotely before the pandemic closed its offices in Nashville, New York and Guam, NASBA was better positioned for remote work than many, but the hit to revenue necessitated the furloughing of a significant number of staff from April through June and July. The association also permanently laid off a small number of staff.

Its mission spending declined after several years of increases, but the association noted that much of the drop reflected a significant decrease in travel spending.

More disturbing was the 18 percent decrease in sections of the CPA Exam being processed. In no small part, the steep drop reflected the closing of testing centers at the beginning of the pandemic, but it also continues a pattern of decline over the past several years. On a brighter note, exam sections taken internationally have generally held steady over the same period, and actually grew in 2020 over 2019.

Besides its efforts to respond to the coronavirus, including making many of its events virtual and providing pandemic-related resources to state boards of accountancy, NASBA reported that it has “maintained momentum” in several areas of interest, including:

  • Pursuing its CPA Evolution project with the American Institute of CPAs;
  • Countering efforts to weaken regulation through legislation;
  • Making continuous improvements to the CPA Exam; and,
  • Deepening its commitment to diversity and inclusion.

“Priorities had to be reconsidered with survival and safety becoming the paramount responsibility, but with never losing sight of our responsibility to protect the public,” wrote Tish, Bishop and Conrad in their opening letter.

New board members

Separately, NASBA also announced its new board members for 2020-2021:

  • As chair, A. Carlos Barrera,a partner-emeritus at Carr, Riggs & Ingram;
  • As vice chair, W. Michael Fritz,a retired partner with Deloitte & Touche;
  • As directors-at-large, Jimmy Burkes and Nicola Neilon;
  • As Southwest regional director,Lynn Hutchinson; and,
  • As Executive Directors Committee chair, Kent Absec.
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