Feb 13, 2017

Pennsylvania Agencies Work Better When We Work Together

By Allison M. Henry, CPA, CGMA, vice president – professional and technical standards

Prior to joining the PICPA, I would have never guessed that there was someone out there serving as an advocate for me, then a CPA in public practice, in situations when regulatory requirements are contrary to our professional standards. The stress of attempting to bridge a client’s needs and expectations with the needs and expectations of regulatory bodies is frustrating enough; it is even more so when regulators are requesting things that you cannot ethically provide. Fortunately, for PICPA members, there is someone to call with your concerns: the PICPA. Our aim is to help ensure that CPAs are asked to provide only those services that comply with professional standards, the AICPA and PICPA Codes of Professional Conduct, and state CPA statutes.

Your voice in Harrisburg is made possible by PICPA’s government relations team, PICPA members who serve in positions within Pennsylvania government, and fellow members who are willing to roll up their sleeves and work to affect change for the better. This consistent effort has produced both successes and generated opportunities for future successes.

PICPA’s Department of Community and Economic Development (DCED) working group, for example, was formed to address the frustrations of practitioners who were being asked to perform services to meet regulatory requirements that were in conflict with how these services are defined in our professional literature. The first project was working with DCED to modify their grant audit guidelines. The success of that relationship has led to opportunities to work with DCED on other projects (such as municipal reporting, film tax credits, among others) as well as with other departments (such as the Department of Health audit guides). The objective was not just been to bring these agencies’ audit and financial reporting policies into alignment with our audit and attestation standards, but to also have conversations about what these agencies are doing with the information collected and why they are requesting it, and to provide suggestions for streamlining financial reporting processes. In many cases PICPA’s projects have helped these agencies fulfill their responsibilities for monitoring how state funds are being spent, something that we can all appreciate as both CPAs and taxpayers.

I recently had the opportunity to testify before the Senate Transportation Committee on the differences between a compilation, review, and audit; bread and butter concepts for us, but not always clear from a financial statement user’s perspective. They are looking for cost-efficient ways to achieve their objectives. This was a golden opportunity. How many of you have clients that are required to undergo an audit when a compilation or preparation engagement, plus potentially some agreed upon procedures, would be more effective and less costly?

If you feel a governmental request conflicts with our professional standards, you don’t have to go it alone. Whether it's attest services that could be clarified, or opportunities to create efficiencies and cost savings, reach out and together we can work to effect change.

I can be reached at ahenry@picpa.org, or contact the PICPA government relations team at governmentrelations@picpa.org.

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Statements of fact and opinion are the authors’ responsibility alone and do not imply an opinion on the part of PICPA officers or members. The information contained in herein does not constitute accounting, legal, or professional advice. For professional advice, please engage or consult a qualified professional.