Not long ago on these pages, my colleague, Howard Wolosky, who helms our sister publication, Practical Accountant, sort of took the AICPA to task for the dearth of important announcements on its Web site.
His suggestion was the creation of a quasi “What’s New” space that would display said announcements that the institute deemed would be of value to their members.
If I may, I’d like to hitchhike a bit on that theme. In particular the quiet zone with regard to the biometric identification process that CPA exam takers have had to undergo since the first of the year.
In full disclosure – if you’ll pardon the pun – we at AMG were caught unaware of this mandate until a number of e-mails bemoaning privacy concerns and the new requirement found their way into our inboxes. And as folks who cover the accounting profession, we don’t relish that admission.
Nevertheless, the new security measure is apparently part of CPA test administrator Prometric’s Identity Management System, which includes capturing digital fingerprint images that are encrypted and subsequently stored electronically with other pieces of candidate information.
Prometric, which according to the Institute, uses the procedure for some 20 other credential tests it administers, reportedly approached NASBA last year to get their approval to port it over to the CPA Exam as well. In the fall, it was announced to the various state boards that the ID system would be in place beginning Jan. 2, 2008.
I would think that a new mandate like this would have been worth a mention on the AICPA Web site. And, if it was posted somewhere and 11 of us here at AMG somehow missed it, it probably involved such a deep drill-down as to require an excavating permit. Note: it did appear in some state board newsletters and on the NASBA portal.
Now, I’m not going to opine about the pros and cons of such a program or its Orwellian implications as some have contended. That’s for far brighter minds than mine to debate. I do know, however, that ID theft always rates at, or near, the top of the list when it comes to critical technology issues and security measures have to keep pace with the evolving sophistication of cyber crime.
The Institute said there have been just seven formal letters of complaint on the biometric process thus far among 60,000 test takers in 2008 and, to date, only one candidate refused to supply fingerprints.
But as a member of the AICPA, it’s doubtful you’d know that unless someone told you.
We certainly don’t expect the various governing bodies of the profession to do our jobs for us, but if we’ve learned one thing from the scandals of the past several years it’s that silence is anything but golden.
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