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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
MARCH 3, 2003
11:38 AM
CONTACT:  Citizen Works
Lee Drutman: (202) 265-6164
ldrutman@citizenworks.org
Association for Integrity in Accounting Outlines Ambitious Agenda at Close of Founding Conference
 
WASHINGTON - March 3 - The Association for Integrity in Accounting (AIA), a new public interest accounting group formed in the wake of the recent corporate scandals, today outlined an ambitious agenda to restore integrity to the accounting profession.

The Association, founded by leading accounting professors and professionals, will focus on four main areas: 1) watching the watchdogs; 2) restoring professional independence; 3) assuring corporate accountability and disclosure; and 4) redeeming accounting education.

“The mission of the Association for Integrity in Accounting is to provide an independent forum to present and advance positions on a wide range of critical accounting and auditing issues, standards and regulations affecting the accountability and integrity of the profession and the public interest in maintaining trust and confidence in accounting,” said founding member Linda Ruchala, an associate professor of accountancy at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln.

The Association held its founding meeting this weekend in Washington D.C. with members from around the world.

As a watchdog of the watchdogs, the AIA will undertake a thorough evaluation of the current financial reporting system and keep a close eye on the activities of the Securities and Exchange Commission and other regulatory boards. The AIA’s preliminary evaluation calls for abolishing the Financial Accounting Standards Board

To restore professional independence, the AIA will propose legislative and rule changes to alleviate the conflicts of interest that arise from the way that CPAs are currently selected and paid.

In the area of assuring corporate accountability and disclosure, the AIA will call for increased transparency on stock options and derivatives and for expanding the reporting of social and environmental liabilities. The AIA will be a voice for openness and transparency in accounting.

In order to redeem education, the AIA will call on educators to help accounting students think critically and independently instead of memorizing technical and often flawed rule-based approaches. The AIA will investigate and publicize the lessons of Enron and other accounting scandals so students, professionals, and the public can learn from these “corporate autopsies.”

“We are enduring an economic blight that has been engendered by a systematic violation of the fiduciary mandate, where insiders – management, directors, auditors, bankers, consultants, etc. – have betrayed their public trust,” said founding member Tony Tinker, a professor of accountancy at CUNY-Baruch College. “Systemic problems require solutions that are adequate to their scale; AIA’s mission is to initiate such a comprehensive re-evaluation of accounting and auditing practice. “

Citizen Works, a nonprofit that promotes citizen participation in democracy, is helping the AIA get started as part of its incubation program of needed public interest voices.

“For too long, the public interest voices in the accounting industry have been overwhelmed by corporate pressures,” said Ralph Nader, founder of Citizen Works. “Today, we are pleased to introduce a new public interest voice to restore integrity to the accounting profession, to remind the profession of its public interest duty, and to make sure that we can all benefit from their work honestly and well done, no matter how large, how powerful and how demanding their corporate clients.

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