Monday, June 17, 2019

Where Have All the CPAs Gone?

Every year since 2011, DCAA (Defense Contract Audit Agency) has reported on its activities in a Report to Congress. The latest report dated March 31, 2019 (but only recently made available online) is available here. These reports primarily contain statistics and trends on how the Agency is performing; metrics such as net savings (down from the last two years), return on investments (down from the last two years), incurred cost audit backlog (improving), meeting due dates (improving), length of time to complete audits (generally improving), and many others.

One thing that caught our eye was a table that showed the professional makeup of DCAA's workforce. About 90 percent of DCAA's staff consists of auditors, which is understandable, and the preponderance of those have bachelor or advanced degrees. But here's something we didn't expect to see. DCAA lost a net of 52 CPAs (Certified Public Accountants) from the prior year. Since 2012, it has lost a net of nearly 200 CPAs. This obviously means that more CPAs are leaving the Agency than are being replaced either through hiring or developed internally.

Should this be a concern? We think it should be. A CPA certification is the pinnacle step of the accounting profession and DCAA has always prided itself on percentages of CPAs and other professional certifications comprising its workforce. It actively encourages staff to attain those certifications and provides training and educational funds to further that goal.

So why the drop-off in the number of CPAs? Obviously we don't have the data or insights to answer that question. The success and survivability of any organization is its staff. Not just any staff, mind you but one that is vibrant and interested in personal professional development with a desire to learn and advance and bring new ideas to the forefront. The fact that DCAA is losing, in absolute numbers, the CPAs in its organization might be a sign that the Agency is not hiring the staff necessary to preserve the organization. And that would be too bad. Bad for Government procurement and bad for taxpayers.

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