The state Board of Accountancy likely will hire a consultant to review its practices, and Gov. Chris Gregoire says she supports that idea in the wake of a $500,000 settlement of lawsuits against the board.
The board is meeting today in SeaTac, and agency Executive Director Rick Sweeney says he intends to put a proposed outside review on the table for consideration. The cost would be “$150,000 maximum,” using money from licensing fees paid by accountants and accounting firms, Sweeney said.
In a short statement issued by her office, Gregoire said: “I am pleased the Board of Accountancy is planning to bring in an outside consultant to examine their policies and procedures. I have seen no evidence of corruption or fraud in the Board’s operation, but this review will help ensure that the Board is operating with best practices in place.”
The review comes after the agency settled Redmond accountant D. Edson Clark’s seven lawsuits. Clark said his actions were based on an effort to show the board retaliated against him when it investigated a conflict-of-interest allegation against him in 2005 and used misrepresentations in a bid to impose sanctions on him.
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Clark also has a pending complaint against Sweeney that he wants the board to take up.
Sweeney said he has talked to board Chairman Edwin Jolicoeur of Spokane and other board members about an outside review, and they support it.
“This is a decision that has been discussed by the board for the past couple of months. It hasn’t been put on the table for a vote. Keep in mind our last board meeting was in July,” Sweeney said Wednesday. “Subsequent to that we had discussions initiated by the board chair with me; then we talked to other board members. … This was a decision we made.”
As Sweeney outlined it, the consultant would look “at my decision-making processes and our policies and procedures with the licensing, CPA monitoring, investigations and follow up on enforcement, qualifications of my personnel that I’m responsible for hiring and retaining. That is my recommendation.” The board also would review the handling of public records.
Sweeney said he would want legal and governmental experts to be on the review team. But it appears any review would not get into the nitty-gritty of the board’s handling of Clark’s complaint, which has fostered Clark’s formal complaint.
Brad Shannon: 360-753-1688