Facts About the State Boards of Accountancy
In the recent Congressional
discussions of the regulation of Certified Public Accountants, the role of the state
boards of accountancy has been given little attention. Since many state boards are
prohibited from lobbying, legislators have not been given much information about what
their own states are doing to ensure competence of their licensees. Here are some basic
No one can practice public
accountancy in the United States unless licensed by a state board of accountancy. The
state board is the only body that can revoke a license to practice. While the Securities
and Exchange Commission can prohibit a CPA from providing services for SEC registrants,
the boards can revoke the ability to provide reserved services to any party.
State boards are not
affiliated with any trade association. Board members, both drawn from the accounting
profession and others, are appointed to serve by the Governor.
State boards of accountancy
have disciplinary and enforcement powers over licensees and operate on a complaint-based
system. The SEC and other government agencies have been encouraged to refer problems with
licensees to the state boards. Typically, complaints brought to a board's attention are
sent to its probable cause panel and a copy sent to the licensee. Once probable cause is
determined, a hearing date is set and a notice of hearing sent to the licensee.
To become licensed, an
individual must meet education, examination and experience requirements. To maintain a CPA
license, continuing education requirements also must be fulfilled. In more than half the
states a quality review is mandated for renewal of a firm's permit to practice.
Revocation of a license, or
in a firm's case the revocation of a permit to practice, is only one possible outcome of
the discipline process. There can be suspension for a set period of time, restriction on
practice, required review prior to issuance of reports, additional required education,