§ 5-3.1-4 Board of accountancy. (a) There is created a board of accountancy in and for the state of Rhode Island, to be known as the Rhode Island board of accountancy. The board shall consist of five (5) members. All members shall be appointed by the governor. Membership of the board shall consist of three (3) members who hold certificates and valid permits to practice as certified public accountants in this state and who are in public practice as certified public accountants in this state, and one member who holds an authority and a valid permit to practice as a public accountant in this state unless the governor shall not be able to find a qualified appointee within the class of public accountants at which time the governor shall appoint a certified public accountant. All four (4) of those members shall have at least ten (10) years' experience in a full-time practice of public accountancy. The fifth member shall be from the public sector and shall have professional or practical experience in the use of accounting services and financial statements as to be qualified to evaluate whether the qualifications, activities, and professional practice of those persons and firms regulated under this chapter conform with the standards established to protect the public interest. The board member from the public sector shall be designated as the public's member to the board for the term of service appointed. Except as provided, the term of the members of the board shall be five (5) years. No member of the board shall be associated in the practice of accountancy, either individually or as a member of a firm, with any other member of the board. The members of the Rhode Island board of accountancy appointed and serving under prior law on July 1, 1995, shall serve out the terms for which they were originally appointed as members of the board created by this section. Vacancies occurring during any term shall be filled by appointment by the governor for the unexpired term. Upon the expiration of his or her term of office, a member shall continue to serve until his or her successor has been appointed and has assumed office. The governor shall remove from the board any member whose certificate, authority or permit has been revoked, suspended, or not renewed. No person who has served two (2) consecutive complete terms is eligible for reappointment. Serving the remainder of an unexpired term upon appointment by the governor to fill a vacancy on the board shall not be considered as serving a complete term.
(b) The board shall elect annually from among its members a chairperson and any other officers that it deems appropriate. The board shall meet at any times and places that are fixed by the board and in any event shall meet no less than four (4) times each year. Three (3) members of the board shall constitute a quorum for the transaction of business. The board shall have a seal which shall be judicially noticed. The board shall retain or arrange for the retention of all applications and documents under oath that are filed with the board, and shall maintain a registry of the names and addresses of all licensees. The board shall keep records of its proceedings, and in any proceeding in court, civil or criminal, arising out of or founded upon any provision of this chapter, copies of the records certified as correct under the seal of the board are admissible in evidence.
(c) Each member of the board shall be reimbursed for actual and necessary expenses incurred in the discharge of those duties, but shall not receive compensation for their services on the board.
(d) All fees and monies derived under the provisions of this chapter shall be paid to and received by the general treasurer of the state of Rhode Island, who shall keep the monies in a restricted receipt account. All monies in the restricted receipt account shall be used to reimburse the board for expenses incurred in the administration and enforcement of this chapter. The board treasurer is authorized and directed to draw orders upon the general treasurer for payment from the restricted receipt account upon receipt by the board treasurer of vouchers authenticated by the chairperson, vice chairperson, or secretary of the board.
(e) The board shall file an annual report of its activities with the governor and the general assembly of this state. The report shall include, but not be limited to, a statement of all receipts and disbursements and a listing of all current licensees. The board shall mail a copy of that annual report, upon request, in writing, to any licensee and to any member of the public.
(f) The board shall prescribe any rules and regulations not inconsistent with the provisions of this chapter that it deems consistent with, or required by, the public welfare and policy established in § 5-3.1-2. Those rules and regulations may include:
(1) Rules and regulations of procedure for governing the conduct of matters before the board;
(2) Rules and regulations of professional conduct for establishing and maintaining high standards of competence and integrity in the profession of public accounting;
(3) Rules and regulations governing educational and experience requirements for the issuance of certificates;
(4) Rules and regulations establishing requirements for continuing education to promote the professional competence of holders of permits, which the board may require those holders to meet as a condition of their continuing in the practice of public accounting;
(5) Rules and regulations governing practice units engaged in the practice of public accounting, including, but not limited to, rules and regulations concerning the style, name, title, and affiliation with any other organization, and establishing reasonable standards as to professional liability insurance;
(6) Rules and regulations for reviewing and monitoring professional performance and conducting peer reviews;
(7) Any other rules and regulations, which the board deems necessary or appropriate in exercising its functions under this chapter.
(g) The promulgation of any rule, regulation, or amendment to it under subsection (f) of this section or under any other provision of this chapter shall be in accordance with § 42-35-3.
(h) The board may employ any personnel and arrange for any assistance, legal or otherwise, that it requires for the performance of its duties. It may also establish one or more advisory committees as it deems necessary in the performance of its duties. The authority and term of that advisory committee may be permanent or temporary in nature as determined by the board.
(i) In addition to its rulemaking authority, the board has the power to take all action that is necessary and proper to effectuate the purposes of this chapter, including the power to:
(1) Sue and be sued in its official name as an agency of this state;
(2) Investigate all complaints and charges of unprofessional conduct, including, but not limited to, conduct specified under § 5-3.1-12, against any licensee or any applicant for a certificate or permit, and to hold hearings, in accordance with the provisions of § 5-3.1-14, to determine whether those complaints and charges are substantiated;
(3) Appoint one or more members of the board, legal counsel, and/or an independent investigator to act on behalf of the board in investigating the conduct of any licensee, or of any applicant for a certificate or permit, or in the alternative to appoint a probable cause committee to investigate that conduct on its behalf, the committee to be comprised of licensees in good standing, as the board determines; and
(4) Issue subpoenas, administer oaths, and summon and examine witnesses in connection with any investigation conducted under authority of this chapter. If a subpoena is disobeyed, the board may invoke the aid of any court of competent jurisdiction in this state to require the attendance and testimony of witnesses and the production of documentary evidence.
(j) The board and its members and agents are immune from personal liability for actions taken in good faith in the discharge of the board's responsibilities, and the state of Rhode Island shall indemnify the board and those members and agents for, and holds them harmless from, any and all costs, damages, and reasonable attorneys' fees arising from or related in any way to claims or actions against them as to matters to which the immunity applies.
(k) The board shall adopt rules and regulations to implement
substantial equivalency as set forth in § 5-3.1-7(g).
(P.L. 1995, ch. 159, § 2; P.L. 1998, ch. 356, § 1; P.L. 1998, ch. 423, § 1; P.L. 2001, ch. 336, § 1; P.L. 2005, ch. 117, art. 21, § 1; P.L. 2005, ch. 193, § 1; P.L. 2005, ch. 208, § 1.)