New Center Aims to Be Think Tank for Accountants

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A new, cutting-edge center at the Gabelli School of Business is arming students, alumni, and professionals with the knowledge and know-hows to positively address new challenges that are facing businesses around the world.

The Center for Professional Accounting Practices (CPAP) nurtures interdisciplinary collaborations among policymakers as well as accounting, auditing, tax, and forensics professionals through informative research, workshops, lectures, and conferences.

“We really want to be a catalyst for change and a think tank for considering information,” said Barbara Porco, Ph.D., a clinical associate professor of accounting and taxation and co-director of CPAP.

With an emphasis on research of current practical relevance and cultivating partnerships with distinguished advisers and professionals who are engaged in innovative work, CPAP is primed to be on the front line of change in the marketplace. This approach will also allow the center to bridge the gap between academia and the accounting profession.

“Our goal is to reflect what’s happening in the practice,” said Stanley Veliotis, Ph.D., associate professor of accounting and taxation and co-director of CPAP. “If we’re just talking to our own students, then we’re talking to ourselves. This is an opportunity to get the word out to people who are also practicing accounting.”

Last fall, CPAP hosted “OECD’s Base Erosion and Profit Shifting (BEPS) Project and International Corporate Tax Avoidance,” which highlighted changes in the international tax system and the tax planning techniques of global companies. The panelists included notable accounting experts Greg Ballentine, Ph.D, a former associate director of the U.S. Treasury’s Office of Management and Budget; Reed College professor Kimberly Clausing, Ph.D, an award-winning researcher on international taxation and tax avoidance; Manal Corwin, KPMG LLP’s national service line leader for international tax; and NYU Law professor Mitchell Kane, a former clerk for the Honorable Karen LeCraft Henderson of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit.

Though CPAP is in the early stages of its development, its directors said it has the potential to create impact by promoting engaging discussions, not just about current tax issues, but also about auditing and assurance, fraud, financial analysis, and sustainability reporting. According to Porco, these practices tend to overlap, but have traditionally been examined separately in academia. CPAP hopes to change that.

“Accounting professionals have to understand data analytics and how information is processed in order to audit and provide assurance,” she explained. “They also have to understand how the data is stored, communicated, and transferred.”

Porco said a holistic approach to accounting would enable practitioners to confidently cultivate financial, environmental, and social growth—or a “triple bottom line” for their clients and organizations.

CPAP is equally committed to furthering conversations about the latest strategies for detecting fraud and best practices in fraud prevention, which can ultimately take the profession to new heights.

“The center is a breeding ground to talk about things that can lead to improvements and policy changes in the profession,” said Veliotis.

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