A lot needs changing, but they decided not to say much on it, is my conclusion after reading the report of the Task Force on the Role and Responsibilities of Council appointed by AICPA Chair William Ezzell. The 13-page report may be found at www.aicpa.org/download/members/Report_Task_Force.pdf.

I first became aware that it was out when I received an AICPA press release that paraphrased the 14 recommendations. I read it two or three times, because the recommendations seemed to be all over the place and I was having difficulty concluding what the Task Force was ultimately saying. They didn't read as a cohesive unit and appeared to have no real unifying thread--and some even seemed to conflict.

I then went to the AICPA Web site to read the entire report, hoping for some clarification. I was surprised by the report's format. There was no real overall conclusion, and the first three pages were comprised of details on the charge to the task force, its composition, explanation of the timing of the report's issuance, the methodology followed, and the Task Force's "conclusion" that reads as follows:

"The Task Force concludes that the following areas are in need of some changes:

  • Council Members' Role and Responsibilities,
  • Nomination and Election of Council Members,
  • Orientation/Preparation of Council Members,
  • Council Meetings/Format/Protocols,
  • Improved Communication Initiatives, and
  • Council Member Terms."

The remaining pages contain the 14 specific recommendations with some commentaries. I found them a bit helpful but they have few references to past operations of the Council and the AICPA Board's and staff interaction with it.However, there was one statement that caught my eye. "The AICPA's Board of Directors and staff should support the Council's leadership role by providing objective information and actively communicating with Council. The members of the Task Force have observed greater effort on the part of the Board and staff in this regard, but more is needed."
I have been thinking about the report for two days and have concluded that its disjointed format, the significant number of important areas that were identified as in need of improvement, the lack of specific comments on past critical Council decisions affecting AICPA members, and the lack of an overall conclusion by the Task Force were purposeful. I am just not sure why.

I am hopeful that there will be a spirited debate on these recommendations. And, as part of that debate, the recent successes and failures of the AICPA should be discussed because ultimately that is how the effectiveness of Council and the AICPA's Board, its leadership, and staff should be measured.

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