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A Quick Summary of Commonly Used Abbreviations for Major Accounting Organizations

Accounting literature contains more than its fair share of commonly used abbreviations that refer to various organizations within the field. Should you encounter some of these puzzling abbreviations in your reading, here for your reference is a quick list of major organizations that affect American and international accounting principles and practice:

Non-Governmental

AAA

American Accounting Association: The AAA is the American national organization of academic accountants, whose members consist primarily of college and university accounting faculty. The AAA serves as a forum for academic research by publishing top-level journals containing articles that address both accounting practice and education, and by organizing national and local conferences. (http://aaahq.org/)

AICPA

American Institute of Certified Public Accountants: The AICPA is a national organization of Certified Public Accountants. The AICPA has several important functions that include:

  1. Education: the AICPA maintains an extensive program of continuing education to maintain member skills and meet state continuing education requirements for practicing CPAs. As well, there is a comprehensive online career center that explains accounting as a career for interested students.
  2. Ethics rules: The AICPA develops and helps to enforce professional ethics rules and practice aids for practicing CPA's.
  3. Auditing: The AICPA develops and maintains auditing standards that CPAs apply when they are engaged to audit American non-public companies, as well as non-profit and state and local government entities.

The PCAOB (below) sets audit standards for publicly-traded companies. (http://www.aicpa.org)

EITF

Emerging Issues Task Force: The EITF assists the FASB by identifying new issues that can potentially affect financial reporting. The EITF also makes implementation recommendations for methods of application of existing codification standards to specific or narrow issues, thereby improving the consistency of standards implementation. (http://www.fasb.org/jsp/FASB/Page/SectionPage&cid=1218220137528)

FAF

Financial Accounting Foundation: The FAF is a U.S. 16-member supervisory and oversight organization that operates the Financial Accounting Standards Board (FASB), the Governmental Accounting Standards Board (GASB), their technical advisory councils, and the Private Company Council. The FAF itself is a non-profit organization that obtains most of its funding from the issuers of stock and bond securities by means of a fee assessed according to the procedures required by the Sarbanes-Oxley act of 2002 and by the Dodd-Frank act of 2010. In turn, it uses the majority of these fees to support the FASB and GASB, in a manner designated by these acts, thereby creating independence from the companies affected by its standard setting activities (which was not the case prior to the legislation). (http://www.accountingfoundation.org/home)

FASB

Financial Accounting Standards Board: The FASB is a seven-member group that, with the help of its technical advisory council (Financial Standards Advisory Council, or FSAC), prescribes the financial accounting principles and rules that govern how financial statements for non-governmental entities are reported in the United States. This rule making authority is allowed by the Federal Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) under Federal securities laws. The standards set by the FASB are recognized as authoritative by the SEC and by state CPA licensing authorities. The decisions of the FASB are issued in formal pronouncement documents that were previously referred to as Statements of (Financial) Accounting Standards (SAS, or also SFAS), and are now codified together ("codification topic number") with pronouncements, interpretations, technical bulletins, etc. collectively called generally accepted accounting principles, or GAAP. The codification is called accounting standards codification (ASC). (http://www.fasb.org/home)

GASB

Governmental Accounting Standards Board: The GASB is a seven-member group that, with the help of its technical advisory council (Governmental Accounting Standards Advisory Council, or GASAC), prescribes the financial accounting principles and rules that govern how financial statements for governmental entities are reported in the United States. The GASB was established in 1984 by the FAF and national associations of state government officials. The standards set by the GASB are recognized as authoritative by state governments, the securities industry, and by state CPA licensing authorities. The decisions of the GASB are issued in formal documents called GASB statements, and are codified for state and local governments reporting together with interpretations and technical bulletins, by topic. (http://www.gasb.org/)

IASB

International Accounting Standards Board: The IASB is a 16-member international organization that, with the help of its Advisory Council and Interpretations Committee, prescribes the financial accounting standards that govern how financial statements for non-governmental entities are reported for companies outside of the United States. Prior to 2001 the IASB was preceded by the International Accounting Standards Committee (IASC). The pronouncements of the IASB are referred to as international financial reporting standards (IFRS). The IASB itself has no authority to require compliance with its pronouncements, however many countries have adopted the IASB standards. At the present time the FASB and IASB are working in a joint project to converge as many standards as possible in order to create a worldwide uniform set of financial accounting standards for publicly traded companies. (http://www.ifrs.org/The+organisation/IASCF+and+IASB.htm)

IFAC

International Federation of Accountants: The IFAC is an international organization of professional accountants. The IFAC develops auditing standards, provides member education, develops educational standards, and establishes ethical standards for accounting practice. (http://www.ifac.org/)

IMA

Institute of Management Accountants: The IMA is an international organization of accountants working in private industry. The IMA sets ethical standards for the practice of managerial accounting and has also developed the Certified Management Accountant (CMA) credential, obtained by passing the CMA examination. The IMA also provides continuing education, peer networking, and advocacy for the profession. (http://www.imanet.org/about_ima/our_mission.aspx)

PCC

Private Company Council: The PCC, created in 2012, is a technical advisory council to the FASB. The PCC specializes its efforts on issues that deal with non-publicly traded companies ("private companies"), and functions to advise the FASB on potential GAAP issues and differences in the context of how FASB decisions would affect private companies.

PCPS

Private Company Practice Section: The PCPS was established in 1977 by the AICPA as a means of self-regulation and improving the quality of public accounting practice. In 1987 peer review became the focus of these efforts, which continues today in cooperation with state CPA societies. Today the PCPS efforts focus primarily on expansion of CPA client services and advocacy for the public accounting profession. (http://www.aicpa.org/interestareas/privatecompaniespracticesection/
pages/pcps.aspx
)

PFP

Personal Financial Planning: The PFP group is a section of the AICPA that assists AICPA members in personal financial planning services that include areas such as estate and income taxation, retirement planning, investment planning, and business risk management.

Governmental

GAO

Government Accountability Office: The GAO is a U.S. federal independent agency that investigates and analyzes federal government expenditures. GAO activities are determined by public law or the requests of congressional committees. (http://www.gao.gov/)

IRS

Internal Revenue Service: The IRS is a U.S. federal government agency, operating under the Treasury Department, that is responsible for the collection of tax revenues and enforcement and non-judicial interpretation of federal tax law. (http://www.irs.gov/)

NASBA

National Association of State Boards of Accountancy: NASBA serves as a forum for the various U.S. state boards of accountancy, whose primary mission is licensing of accountants, enforcement of state laws concerning public accounting practice, and generally protecting the public interest in the context of accounting practice. (http://www.nasba.org/)

PCAOB

Public Company Accounting Oversight Board: The PCAOB is an independent, private, nonprofit corporation that was created in 2002 by the Sarbanes-Oxley Act. Although the PCAOB is a private entity, it reports to the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC). The mission of the PCAOB is to develop audit standards and to enforce audit compliance for accounting firms that audit public companies. It also develops and enforces internal control and financial reporting standards for public companies. The PCAOB assumed these responsibilities from the AICPA and was created in response to numerous large public company fraudulent, but audited, financial reporting scandals such as Enron, World.com, etc. (http://pcaobus.org/Pages/default.aspx)

SEC

Securities and Exchange Commission: The SEC is a federal government agency that operates under the U.S. Treasury Department. The mission of the SEC is generally to protect investors in publicly traded companies and to maintain fair and orderly stock and bond markets. The SEC has broad powers to develop and oversee accounting standards, and has final authority over the standards developed by the FASB. The SEC has federal licensing authority for securities brokers and financial advisors. The SEC also has wide investigative authority into violations of advising and securities trading activities and setting and enforcing the rules for securities markets. The SEC has civil enforcement powers and as well can refer investigations for criminal prosecution to the U.S. Justice Department and/or state authorities.

By Greg Mostyn, Mission College

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