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Podcast: A journalist’s perspective: Is our profession future-ready?

I have a confession to make: I’m not a CPA.

That may or may not come as a surprise to you, but it’s funny: When I tell people who aren’t connected to our profession that I work for the Maryland Association of CPAs, a lot of them assume I’m a CPA … which would send my friends and family into fits of raging laughter, because I am definitely not a numbers guy.

What I am is a journalist by trade. I spent the early part of my career as an editor at a daily newspaper. Then, when the Internet arrived, I moved over to online journalism before eventually landing in corporate communications.

That’s a long-winded way of saying that I have a soft spot in my heart for journalists. They do really important work, and usually without a whole lot of credit being thrown their way. Think about it: Journalists are your lifeline to what’s going on in the world. We don’t have time to find this stuff out on our own. We rely on them to give us the information that matters to us, and that’s a hugely important role.

So I’m really excited about this week’s guest. He’s Daniel Hood, the editor-in-chief of Accounting Today, which is a fantastic source of news and resources specific to our profession. We had a great conversation about what’s happening in our profession today, and what accounting and finance pros should be paying attention to.

In this conversation, we ask:

Listen to our conversation here:

 

Meanwhile, here’s what caught my eye this week.

The Tax Day outage: How it happened
Remember the Tax Day outage at the IRS back in April? A number of critical systems went down at the IRS on the day that individual returns were due, and the IRS ended up extending the filing deadline by a day as a result. There initially were some fears of a cyber attack, but officials quickly determined that was not the case … even if they didn’t know exactly what went wrong.

Well, a new report is out that identifies the cause of the outage, as reported by Accounting Today in an article written by our guest, Daniel Hood: “TIGTA identifies cause of Tax Day outage at IRS.”

The problem was a firmware bug that caused something called a “storage array” to fail. But there’s an interesting twist to the story.

“IBM had identified the particular bug at fault in the IRS outage as far back as June 2017, and had developed a fix and released it with its November 2017 ‘microcode bundle,’” Hood writes. “However, a contractor recommended keeping an older microcode bundle because it was considered more stable – and the IRS agreed with the recommendation.”

The article goes on to say that the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration, which released the report, is recommending that the IRS formalize and document “both its intended response to the outage, and its ongoing monthly microcode bundle meetings, and that it modify its contract with its storage services provider and seek damages.” The IRS agrees on all counts and has begun complying.

That’s what Daniel and his team do every day. That’s what all journalists do every day – report on the stuff that’s important to us so that we can stay informed, and so that we have the information that will help us do our jobs better.

For this week’s conversation, I asked him to look a little further down the road and identify the issues that aren’t necessarily ready for prime time now, but which have the potential to significantly impact our profession tomorrow. He points to some usual suspects in the technology arena, but he offers some surprises, too – and some interesting ideas for what CPAs should be doing now to prepare for the profession of tomorrow.

MACPA’s 2018 CPA Summit
You can meet and hear Daniel in person at the MACPA’s 2018 CPA Summit, scheduled for Dec. 6 in Towson, Md. He’ll be part of a media panel that I’ll be moderating. It’s going to be a great event with some eye-opening and thought-provoking sessions, so you won’t want to miss it. You can get all the details and register at MACPA.org/Summit.

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