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Technology and Transparency in Government

13/06/13 8:00 am | Comments (0) | Posted By:

 

The Government Finance Officers Association held its annual conference in San Francisco this past week. Edwin Lee, the mayor of San Francisco opened the conference speaking about transparency in government including sharing data with innovative businesses that develop mobile applications that can be utilized by everyone.

In San Francisco looks to tap into the open date economy, Alex Howard identifies San Francisco as one of the first cities to launch an open data platform. One app cited is the Rec & Park app, built by San Francisco-based startup Appallicious, which enables citizens to find trails, dog parks, playgrounds and other recreational resources on a mobile device. At the conference the Mayor talked about a mobile app to identify parking space availability. How great is that? When you are looking to find a parking place, no more driving around block after block.  In all honest, I can’t claim to be a big app user but the thought of utilizing government data to make our lives run more smoothly is very attractive to me.

California Lt. Governor, Gavin Newsom, (also a former Mayor of San Francisco) delivered the keynote address on Tuesday. Much of his speech revolved around his new book, Citizenville,  which explores the need for citizens to become more involved in their government and how technology can help facilitate this endeavor.

As you might suspect, Citizenville is a play on Farmville, the popular game in which players spend hours maintaining their virtual farms. Newsom’s Citizenville’s concept is to combine the fun of a game with the social good of solving problems. A way to engage from the bottom up instead of the top down bureaucracy.

Newsom believes in complete transparency for every agency with exceptions only to protect public safety or personal privacy. Opening up the data and making it available to ordinary people. Encouraging people and businesses to use that data in a useful innovative manner. Engaging people on their terms with new technologies and social media.

Innovation should drive change and provide solutions. Who wants to play?

 

CPA’s Go to Washington DC

30/05/13 8:00 am | Comments (0) | Posted By:

 

Last week approximately 400 CPA’s (including yours truly) descended on Capitol Hill to discuss issues of interest to the profession and our clients. The Capitol Hill visits were in conjunction with the Spring Meeting of the AICPA Council which is held every other year in Washington DC in order for Council members to make these important visits to each state’s legislators. Our delegation from Nevada met with each of our elected members of Congress or their staff liaisons in order to discuss the following important issues:

• “What’s at Stake?” – The CPA Profession on Federal Fiscal Responsibility: This updated video resource available for CPA’s, Policymakers and the Public reviews the federal government’s latest financial report and discusses the profession’s role in promoting the importance of the nation’s fiscal responsibility.

H.R. 1129: The Mobile Workforce State Income Tax Simplification Act of 2013: This bill creates a uniform national standard that will limit state or local taxation of the compensation of an employee who performs duties in more than one state or locality to: (1) the state or locality of the employee’s residence and (2) the state or locality in which the employee is physically present performing duties for more than 30 days.

S. 420 and H.R. 901: Tax Return Due Date Simplification and Modernization Act of 2013: These bills propose a shuffling of the original and extended due dates of corporate, partnership and other returns to improve the flow of information needed by taxpayers to timely file their personal returns. The bills propose new original due dates as follows:

  • Form 1065 Partnership Return of Income – March 15
  • Form 1120S S Corporation – March 31
  • Form 1120 C Corporation – April 15
  • Form TD F 90.22-1 Foreign Bank Account Reporting – April 15 (with an extension available to October 15)
  • Form 3520-A Foreign Trusts with a U.S. Owner – April 15

        There are proposed revisions to various extended due dates as well which for the most part remain in the familiar   September/October time frame. For more information on these dates see the full text of the bills at www.govtrack.us.

H.R 797: Municipal Advisor Oversight Improvement Act of 2013: This bill would clarify the definition of a municipal advisor and make it clear that providing customary and usual accounting services by CPA’s is not the same as providing municipal advisory services which now requires SEC registration under the Dodd-Frank Act.

• Our Nevada CPA delegation also discussed various other issues related to the general topic of tax reform which is of great interest to Congress in light of recent and not so recent events. For more information read the AICPA’s Principals of Good Tax Policy.

Our visits always prove to be enlightening for all of those involved be they the elected member of Congress, the staff liaison or the CPA’s participating in the meetings. We must never lose sight of the fact that we all have a voice in our democracy whether it be a visit to Capitol Hill, a phone call or email or the simple casting of a vote.

 

Avoid “Bizspeak”

23/05/13 8:00 am | Comments (0) | Posted By:

At one time or another we are probably all guilty of slipping a little “bizspeak” into our conversations.

But if you are really interested in acquiring clever phrases and made-up words to embellish your written (and oral) business communications skills, then you should check out a recent Harvard Business Review blog on the subject.

The buzzwords and phrases contained therein such as “right-sized”, “smart-sized”, “mission critical” and “paradigm shift” are only a few of the bizspeak expressions we are often subjected to in today’s business communications.

The author argues that your “plain-English skill set” really should be put to more effective use in your day to day communications. In other words, ditch the bizspeak expressions that are really just intended to impress your audience. Try to kick the buzzword addiction and lose the clichés.

So instead of “Thank you in advance for your courtesy and cooperation in this regard. Please do not hesitate to contact me if you have any questions regarding this request”, how about “Thank you. If you have any questions, please call”.

If you give it a try, “at the end of the day” you will be a much more effective communicator.

 

 

 

Your first post-graduation job – a reality check

16/05/13 10:48 am | Comments (0) | Posted By:

With graduation season upon us, I thought I’d reflect back on what I think college graduates should really expect with their first job after receiving their diplomas.

During my college years I was an endless optimistic about what my first few years working full time would bring. After these years of being a neophyte, and many more after, I bring you my cynical thoughts on what to expect with your first job:

  • Pay isn’t going to be as high as you want, expect, or is published as the “average starting salary”. These surveys must take into account working in high cost places like San Francisco and New York.
  • Most likely, more than eight hour days will be needed to get your tasks accomplished, and expect to work some weekends.
  • The job won’t be as interesting or diverse as your many classes led you to believe.
  • The old adage of who you know could not be more important.
  • Don’t expect your own office.
  • Your job won’t be as exciting or as rosy as the job interview led you to believe.

 

Spring Time Means…Food Truck Fridays!

09/05/13 8:00 am | Comments (0) | Posted By:

It’s that time of year again: The weather is warming, the skies are blue, let’s grab some grub at Reno Food Truck Fridays to feed that hunger in you. My horrible rhyming aside, this bimonthly, gastronomic event is back in town. Setting up shop every first and third Friday of the month, Reno Food Truck Fridays (RFTF) is a great way to get outside, indulge in a variety of gourmet food, and listen to local music. The next RFTF is Friday, May 17, but if you can’t make it then the event goes through October, so there are plenty more Fridays ahead.

RFTF takes place downtown at CitiCenter Plaza, 40 E. 4th Street (the corner of 4th and Center), which is the former RTC bus terminal. It runs from 5-9 p.m., so you can head there right after work or rest up a bit before heading downtown. You could even make a whole evening of it and catch a Reno Aces game.

This year’s lineup of food trucks includes: GourMelt Grilled Cheese, Kenji’s, Sauce Wagon, Red Truck Tahoe, Traffic Jam, Mellow Yellow Food, Lazy Sundae, Battle Born, Waffle Wagon, St. Lawrence Pizza Co., Island Ice, Mount MoGrit, and Taster’s Paradise (check out Reno Tahoe Food Trucks for some of the menus from the aforementioned trucks). There is also the Tumblebus and a beer garden courtesy of Great Basin Brewing Co. (according to Standley White of About.com). New this year will be The Biggest Little Fashion Truck which will be selling designer clothes and accessories. Now you can shop and eat at the same time in downtown Reno.

So, if you’re looking for something different and a chance to support local businesses, head downtown to Reno Food Truck Fridays. Here’s the upcoming schedule:

  • May 17
  • June 7, June 21
  • July 5, July 19
  • August 2, August 16
  • September 6, September 20
  • October 4, October 18

Make sure to check RFTF’s Facebook page for any changes or special announcements.

 

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