The NYSSCPA Board of Directors voted at its September meeting to set the Society’s legislative agenda. The Society Government Relations staff will now use this document as a basis for our activities in Albany once the New York legislative session begins in January. While most NYSSCPA members rely on the Society to be their professional advocate in New York State, few of them may realize that we have committees, task forces, and a staff position dedicated entirely to this function. In fact, even the 2,000-plus members who sit on our statewide committees may not realize the critical role they play in our advocacy program.
The Society’s nearly 50 technical committees are miniature think tanks, open to the entire membership, free of charge. For every practice area in which a CPA might be found, the Society most likely has a committee: accounting, auditing, nonprofit, taxation (the Society has 14 different tax committees), government, higher education, consulting, small firm practice, large firm practice—too many to list here. Technical committees act as idea exchanges and allow members to develop their professional, management, and presentation skills in a specific practice area, but committees are also the engine of the Society’s advocacy program.
Committees are on the front lines of the profession’s issues in New York State. Some of the most accomplished and respected CPAs in New York State meet monthly and answer the calls for the Society’s technical hotline. Aside from our chapter town hall meetings, the committees are the central place where the issues that need the weight of the NYSSCPA behind them are identified. Because our members’ expertise is so honed, their reputations so well respected, some regulatory bodies request our input directly.
But there are also missed opportunities for an even stronger advocacy program at the NYSSCPA. Sometimes when issues bubble up from a conversation about practice issues, or professional issues emerge from the technical hotline, the issue stays within the committee and is not communicated to either an oversight committee member or our government affairs or professional and technical issues staff. Also contributing to the knowledge gap is the fact that committee members sometimes develop relationships with state regulators. These relationships benefit all New York CPAs only as long as the member with the relationship remains on the committee; if the member leaves and takes the relationship with them, it is to the detriment of the committee and Society as a whole. Some committee members are not even aware that the Society has a legislative agenda or a government affairs program.
How do we make sure that we take advantage of the daily advocacy work done by our committees? It’s my job to implement better, more responsive communications channels between the Society’s committee structure and our government affairs structure so that when members identify a practice issue that the Society could help solve, they know exactly where to go. But I also need your help. Don’t let practice issues that come up in our committees stay there. Contact your committee’s oversight committee chair, a member of our Legislative Task Force, our Government Affairs Manager, a Society officer, or me. Remember, you have the power and the voice of 26,000 CPAs behind you. My e-mail is below. We can make change happen, together.