On November 15, 2019, the AICPA Professional Ethics Executive Committee (PEEC or the Committee) issued its proposed "Strategy and Work Plan" (consultation paper) for public comment. Comments are due February 28, 2020.
The PEEC based the proposal on research and outreach that identified potential standard-setting and "member enrichment" (e.g., guidance and tools) projects. Seeking to address prevalent issues and changes in practice, including professional standards and the impact of technology, the consultation paper solicits comments on several projects that would be initiated over the next three (3) years and also discusses the PEEC's current projects and projects the Committee chose not to pursue.
Proposed standard-setting projects are:
- Business relationships (consider updating the Code to better reflect the types of business relationships members have with clients and nonclients, including the impact of these relationships on independence)
- Definition of "office" (consider updating the independence rules to reflect changes in practice, such as telecommuting)
- Client affiliates (consider updating the independence rules to address how an individual's ownership of multiple companies should be interpreted)
- Artificial intelligence (consider updating the Code to address members' use of artificial intelligence in performing professional services)
- Simultaneous employment or association with an attest client (consider updating the independence rules to allow additional situations in which simultaneous employment or association with an attest client would not impair independence)
- Digital assets (consider updating the Code to include guidance on issues related to digital assets (e.g., a member mines or owns crypto-currencies)
- 529 college savings plans (consider updating the independence rules to reflect changes in the way some 529 plans have evolved to work).
- Reporting independence breach to an affiliate that is also an attest client (consider updating the independence rules to include procedures a member would follow when multiple attest clients are impacted by a breach)
- De minimis unpaid fees (consider updating the independence rules to address immaterial, unpaid fees from an attest client for services performed more than one year before the current year's attest report date)
Proposed new member enrichment projects are:
- Data security / responding to data breaches (to help members better understand their ethical obligations in this area)
- Conflicts of interest
- General maintenance of the Code