Report on the Accounting Research Activities of the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants
BY WELDON POWELL Partner, Executive Office
Presented before a special meeting of account-tants of Caracas, Venezuela — December 1960
HE CURRENT APPROACH of the American Institute of Certified Public
Accountants to accounting research is something new. It was developed by a Special Committee appointed in the fall of 1957 by Alvin R. Jennings, the then President of the Institute, to deal with this matter. The Special Committee, of which I was the Chairman, submitted a report in September 1958, proposing a plan for the organization
and operation of the accounting research program and related activities of the Institute. Its recommendations were adopted by the Council of the Institute in April 1959. The new plan became effective in September 1959, and now we are engaged in the task of making it operative.
We are confining ourselves, at least for the present, to the field of financial accounting, and are not entering into related fields, such as those of cost accounting, managerial accounting, and auditing. The aim of our research is stated as follows in the report of the special committee: "The general purpose of the Institute in the field of financial
accounting should be to advance the written expression of what constitutes generally accepted accounting principles, for the guidance of its members and of others. This means something more than a survey of existing practice. It means continuing effort to determine
appropriate practice and to narrow the areas of difference and inconsistency in practice."
It is now about twenty-five years since the expression "generally accepted accounting principles" first came into wide use in the United States. Nevertheless, there is not a definition or statement of these principles on which there is common agreement, and in practice there is no little inconsistency in applying them. I am sure that no one who served on the now superseded Committee on Accounting Procedure would claim that the fifty-one accounting research bulletins issued by it purport to constitute such a statement or definition. Notwithstanding
this, the present importance of the phrase "generally accepted