Three years ago the AICPA’s Professional Ethics Division embarked on a new project aimed at restructuring the AICPA’s Code of Professional Conduct into a logically structured, topical format. The concern was that the Code of Professional Conduct could at times be difficult to navigate as many provisions were scattered throughout and didn’t follow an intuitive order. The Ethics Codification Project, as it has been dubbed, also provides an opportunity to evaluate any guidance that lies outside the Code of Professional Conduct and determine whether to propose that some of it be made authoritative.
The Professional Ethics Division and Professional Ethics Executive Committee also continues to work on converging the AICPA’s Code of Professional Conduct with the International Ethics Standards Board for Accountants’ Code of Ethics for Professional Accountants. A requirement to being a member of the International Federation of Accountants is that no member body should have standards that are less restrictive than the IESBA’s Code. As the Ethics Codification Project continues, the PEEC will consider those standards that need to be changed to meet the minimum IESBA standard. Convergence is not expected to lower standards, but rather where appropriate, make standards more robust or provide guidance where guidance is lacking.
Ultimately these projects will create a user-friendly and intuitively arranged Code of Professional Conduct. Additionally, we expect the codification will be available in a web-based platform, which further enhance the quality and ease of use to the Code of Professional Conduct, as well as allow users to browse by topic and perform searches on specific information.
This is a long-term project though, so don’t expect to see the updated Code of Professional Conduct immediately. In fact, we don’t expect to see an exposure draft until the Spring of 2012 with approval and issuance estimated one year later in the Spring of 2013. For the time-being, convergence changes are being exposed for comment and the latest version of the Code of Professional Conduct can always be found on AICPA.org.
Ellen Goria, CPA, Senior Manager - Professional Ethics Division, American Institute of CPAs. Ellen staffs various task forces that develop independence and behavioral guidance for exposure to membership. She also assists with interpreting the Institute’s Code of Professional Conduct by providing guidance to membership, state CPA societies and other interested parties on ethics and independence issues. In her role, Ellen also works closely with other AICPA teams to ensure publications accurately reflect the AICPA’s current ethical positions.