The recent decision by the American Institute of CPAs and the Information Technology Alliance to end a two-year marriage wasn't a surprise. So the ITA will cease its role as an AICPA membership division and become now an independent organization again in May.
ITA was once a user group called Acute (Accountants Computer Users Technical Exchange), founded in 1966, which represented CPAs who used IBM desktop technology. When IBM fell on harder times in the early 1990s, Acute was left without its main sponsor, and much of its original purpose. It transformed into ITA in 1997, trying to bring CPAs and accounting software resellers and consultants together. It was always a struggle.
The official reason for dissolving the partnership is that right now the AICPA is loath to put its effort into initiatives that involve non-CPAs. That really wasn’t the problem. The problem was the AICPA never showed any intention of supporting the ITA or developing it. The ITA is interested in developing its members’ businesses. I think the only reason the AICPA wanted the ITA marriage was to get the sponsorship fees from the ITA’s vendor members. Since the AICPA hasn’t shown much ability to promote its own technology initiatives like the CITP credential, it wasn’t suddenly going to develop that desire regarding ITA and its programs.
In the last two years, the AICPA has done nothing to promote ITA, except that this year, the committee sponsoring the Tech conference put ITA on its brochure. That’s a welcome relief from last year when the Tech conference was turned into a three-day infomercial for CPA2Biz. Also the programs that the AICPA does actively support, like WebTrust, are oriented towards the Big Five, and the AICPA isn’t Big Five oriented.
ITA is back to its original problem: how do talented people with full-time jobs run a membership organization in their spare time? Even with commercial sponsorship, it’s a tough position.
ITA president Ron Eagle says the group will continue to concentrate on the reseller and consulting community, but also sees a need to re-emphasize internal technology use, a move back to the Acute roots. Both thrusts have value.
ITA has always represented the best and the brightest of the CPA IT consulting community. Recognized leaders like Gary Boomer, Jim Metzler, the immediate past and current AICPA technology committee chairs, have come through its ranks. Let’s hope ITA can continue to shine.
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