Upon joining the AICPA, a member agrees to abide by its Code of Professional Conduct and Bylaws adopted by a vote of the membership. The bylaws provide a structure for enforcement of the Code by the Institute's Professional Ethics Division. When allegations come to the attention of the Ethics Division regarding a violation of the Code, the division investigates the matter, under due process procedures, and depending upon the facts found in the investigation, may take a confidential disciplinary action, settle the matter with suspension or revocation of membership rights, or refer the matter to a panel of the Trial Board Division for a hearing. The bylaws mandate publishing the member's name if he or she is found guilty by a hearing panel, is suspended or expelled by settlement.
The bylaws of 51 state and/or territorial CPA societies provide for their participation in a Joint Ethics Enforcement Program so that, depending upon membership status, actions taken by one or more of these societies or the AICPA are in the names of both the society and AICPA.
State regulatory agencies (Boards of Accountancy) issue practice licenses to CPAs and only those agencies may act to affect those licenses. The AICPA does not license CPAs. Those state regulatory agencies may take disciplinary action affecting practice licenses under statutes, regulations and rulings of the state. Also, the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) and other Federal government agencies may, under Federal law or regulation, discipline CPAs who practice before these agencies.