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Envisioning the CPA's role as that of the premier information professional in a world of electronic commerce and virtual global trade, the incoming chair of the AICPA called upon CPAs to accept the challenge of serving the "broad information needs of decision-makers in today's information age."

In his inaugural address, Robert Mednick, managing partner of professional and regulatory matters at Andersen Worldwide and a Chicago native, urged the 328,000 members to expand their skills beyond traditional accounting, auditing, and tax services to ensure that the profession remains a vital part of "our economy and society into the 21st century" just as it has been over the profession's 110-year history in the U.S.

Mednick assumed the CPA profession's highest office at the AICPA's Fall Meeting of Council and Annual Members' meeting. He succeeds Ronald S. Cohen of Crowe Chizek & Co., of South Bend, Indiana.

Mednick said, "If we seize the opportunity presented by the information explosion sweeping through our society, I visualize broad new uses of the data-gathering, analyzing, and evaluating skills of every CPA to guide managers and others through the bewildering array of available data to find what they need."

"Far from outmoding our traditional skills, the explosion of affordable information has placed a premium on professionals who can tap vast data bases, separate the wheat from the chaff, and create competitive advantage for our traditional clients and others," he added.

Outlining the challenges before the profession in a fast-changing global economy, Mednick pledged to continue to push forward the AICPA's joint initiative with the National Association of State Boards of Accountancy to create a new regulatory model for the profession. "The current state licensing requirements in 54 separate licensing jurisdictions are extremely diverse and create unnecessary administrative burdens for CPAs in public practice who operate in more than one jurisdiction," he said.

Mednick envisioned the new model to include a national CPA qualifications board that would permit all CPAs, who are certified and licensed in a state meeting certain pre-established standards, to call themselves, and to practice as, CPAs in all other U.S. jurisdictions. It would be much the same as a "driver's license issued by a particular state but acceptable and usable throughout the country," he noted.

Mednick also proposed a "functional form of regulation" which would focus regulators' attention on services that have the greatest impact on the public interest, such as traditional attest services, while lifting current regulations on other services, such as systems design and consulting, where CPAs compete today against other nonregulated professionals.

"The shift to a market-based model will recognize that we are multidisciplinary professional services firms which perform certain regulated services, and enable CPAs to more readily utilize, in the public interest, their data-gathering, analyzing, and evaluation skills to create new value-added services demanded by decision-makers in the Information Age," he continued.

The AICPA Council also elected as vice chair, Stuart Kessler of Goldstein, Golub, Kessler & Co., P C., of New York City. *

The CPA Journal is broadly recognized as an outstanding, technical-refereed publication aimed at public practitioners, management, educators, and other accounting professionals. It is edited by CPAs for CPAs. Our goal is to provide CPAs and other accounting professionals with the information and news to enable them to be successful accountants, managers, and executives in today's practice environments.

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