Last May I wrote a column taking Institute members to task for basically remaining silent during the traditional "open mike" session at the Institute's Spring Council meeting in Savannah, Ga.

As editor of Accounting Today, my email and snail mail box has more or less become the repository for members’ dissatisfaction with initiatives and/or leadership emanating from 1211 Avenue of the Americas.

When Business Week named Institute president and chief executive Barry Melancon one of 2002’s worst managers, my email box went into Ram overload. As a member of the media, did I think it was unfair to have the head of a non-profit group lumped together with for-profit CEOs? Well in a word, yes, but that’s background for a future column and after all, performance is performance.

But one of the most interesting letters I received asked what Accounting Today and what I, specifically, was going to do about it?

Come again?

When I assumed this post 27 months ago I assure you there was no portion of my job description which bestowed me with decision-making power and influence over the profession’s membership organization.

I sorta figured that was up to the dues-paying members.

At the recent Winning is Everything symposium in Las Vegas, I had somewhat of a similar occurrence when I was asked what can Accounting Today do about the AICPA’s lack of communication with the small firms.

Also at that confab, many of the profession’s top executives were asked for their critique of the Institute’s leadership or lack thereof during the past year — arguably the toughest in history for CPAs.

Some of the country’s most respected and successful managing partners and chief executives adroitly, and diplomatically, tap-danced around the question, more or less defending the organization and its embattled president.

Some fair points were brought up, such as stating that the failed global credential and the teetering CPA2Biz were not the root of the accounting scandals and that the institute was moving forward with several initiatives such as its anti-fraud plan.

The only passionate institute criticisms were heard well off stage or on background.

My point to the membership is this. We report what’s going on in the profession and because we labor under the comfortable blanket of the First Amendment can editorialize our viewpoints.

But we can only print member’s gripes in letters or quote them in stories. We can’t force the institute to change – only you as members can do that.

You can work for change if you feel it’s necessary, or you can sit back and suffer in silence. Either way, the profession doesn’t need another change agent. There are already 340,000 of them.

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