Gary J. Colbert and Dennis F. Murray
Accounting and the Public Interest, Volume 13, Issue 1, pp. 85-104
All states in the U.S. regulate the practice of public accounting. An important part of the regulatory apparatus is the state accountancy board (SAB). SABs implement the laws that govern public accounting. State societies of CPAs (SSCPAs), in contrast, are advocacy mechanisms that can potentially be used by members of the profession to achieve their regulatory objectives. Economic theory raises the possibility that regulatory bodies such as SABs might be captured by the profession that they regulate. We examine the composition of SABs and find that the majority of members are CPAs. A survey of CPA SAB members reveals that nearly one-third of the respondents are past leaders of their SSCPAs. We further find that the percentage of board members who are CPAs and the percentage of our respondents who are past leaders of their SSCPAs are positively associated with the rapidity with which states adopt two important accountancy laws (interstate mobility and the 150-hour education requirement) that can be viewed as being in the best interest of the profession. These findings support the hypothesis of regulatory capture and suggest that states may benefit from reconsidering the qualifications of SAB members.