California Tightens Accounting Standards

Beginning in January, accounting firms in the state of California will be required to undergo peer review. CPAs will need to take additional CPE classes in ethics, and consumers will be able to watch live webcasts of California Board of Accountancy (CBA) meetings. The new laws are part of a focus on enhancing consumer protection and increasing government transparency, the CBA says.

Under the peer review law, all California CPA firms providing accounting and auditing services will be required to undergo a periodic peer review. The additional CPE regulations will focus on increased ethics, but also will require CPAs to take CPE on an annual basis.

Manuel Ramirez, president of the CBA, says the regulation changes are part of an increased focus by the CBA on ethics and education, both as a way to increase consumer protection and restore public confidence. “I believe the newly approved CPE requirements are an important step to increasing the CBA’s consumer protection mandate,” says Ramirez, “while also reestablishing CPAs’ reputations as one of the most ethical professions in the country.”

The live webcasts of CBA meetings will begin with the first meeting of the year, which will be held January 20-21, 2010, in Irvine, Calif. The CBA president says the webcasts will give both consumers and CBA licensees a “window” into important issues and how decisions are made. “CBA meetings are always open to the public but the webcasts will enable those who would like to attend our meetings, but can’t, to become part of the process. Consumers and licensees alike will be able to see the CBA in action and stay informed of upcoming and ongoing issues that interest them,” Ramirez says.