Established in 1977, PCPS was initially formed in response to government's call for increased regulation of the accounting profession. For more than 40 years, PCPS has worked consistently to improve the quality of CPA firm service through self-regulation and to act as an advocate for local and regional firms.
A lot has changed since our start in 1977. Today's marketplace has new demands, and, just as many CPA firms have enhanced their compliance work with value-added consulting, PCPS has reduced its emphasis on self-regulation and gravitated toward adding value to local practices. The PCPS of the future will continue to stand for leadership, advocacy and quality among local and regional accounting firms across the United States, while providing practical tools and resources specifically designed to boost the success of these CPA firms.
Private Companies Practice Section (PCPS) was founded by a vote of the AICPA Governing Council in 1977 to establish a voluntary quality assurance program within the AICPA for CPA firms, in response to Washington 's scrutiny of several major business failures. The key element in the program was a mandatory peer review every three years for each firm, the results of which are available to the public. PCPS also launched advocacy programs in its early years on behalf of its member firms.
In 1987, peer review became a requirement for all CPA firms in public practice. PCPS embarked on an ambitious membership drive to recruit firms to join its established peer review program. PCPS membership ranks more than tripled within the next three years as firms recognized that PCPS enabled them to demonstrate a commitment to quality, providing them with the bedrock on which they could build effective competitive structures. As former Chairman Harold Monk put it, "PCPS was extremely farsighted in developing methods to enhance the quality of practice and safeguard the public interest."
During the 1990s, PCPS launched several critical research initiatives, including a member survey of satisfaction with PCPS programs, an effort that continues today. Advocacy initiatives expanded to include an active liaison with the AICPA's Washington office and increased small firm input on the political scene. The early 1990s brought organizational change as well. PCPS expanded its scope to represent all local and regional firms—an addition to previous enrolled member support—and the Management of an Accounting Practice (MAP) Committee began formally reporting to PCPS.
When state CPA societies' administered quality review program merged with the PCPS peer review program in the mid–1990s, PCPS leaders created a new strategic plan focused on member benefits and services and a commitment to excellence. In 1997, PCPS removed its remaining membership requirements and dropped its few ties to its roots as a self-regulatory organization. To mark the shift, the group adopted a new logo and a new name—PCPS/Partnering for CPA Practice Success: The AICPA Alliance for CPA Firms.
Regarding the greatly expanded scope of PCPS, James Castellano, former Chair of the AICPA and the PCPS MAP Committee, noted "PCPS is the profession's advocate for small- and medium-size CPA firms. From representing our interests with standard setters to providing invaluable practice management resources, our investment in PCPS membership has returned great benefits."
The early 2000s saw an increasing overlap of initiatives. In order to enhance programs and increase efficiency, the MAP Committee merged with the PCPS Executive Committee. Recent feedback from PCPS members pointed out that it was time to return to the original name. Today, PCPS again stands for Private Companies Practice Section. As AICPA President Barry Melancon noted "The AICPA is committed to meeting small firm needs and helping them through difficult times. One of the prime ways of doing it is through PCPS."
The committees of PCPS are working on an exciting roster of projects to help local and regional firm members practice better and be more successful. This two-pronged effort involves both providing management tools and resources and representation and a voice for the local and regional firm.