Stopping the next Enron

In the wake of corporate accounting scandals like the Enroncollapse, Portland State has established a new business program toexamine ethical issues in accounting practices.

Supporting and sustaining democratic society is the goal of thenewly created Center for Professional Integrity and Accountability,according to Jesse Dillard, the center’s director and the Retzlaffchair in accounting within the School of Business Administration.”With the establishment of this center, we hope to raise theawareness of students, faculty, and the civic and businesscommunities to the importance of acting in the public interest andto collectively explore alternative ways of doing so,” Dillardsaid. The center recently held its first event on May 24, billed asThe Enron Collapse: A case study in Business and RegulatoryFailure.

The event was co-sponsored by the Lewis and Clark Law School.John Kroger, an assistant professor of law from Lewis and Clark wasthe feature speaker. Kroger was a prosecutor on the JusticeDepartment’s Enron Task Force.

Funding to launch the center was provided by Phil Bogue, aretired managing partner of Arthur Andersen, the accounting firmthat gained infamy for its handling of Enron accounting files.

“The formation of a center such as this one is important becauseof the turmoil in the corporate world over the past couple ofyears,” Bogue said in a press release. “The center will be a placeto study what happened, what will prevent it from happening againin the future and to create a place where regulatory issues can bedebated and worked on.”

The initial focus of the center is on accounting and relatedissues, according to Dillard.

Dillard maintains a distinct perspective on how economics fitswithin different systems. Listing three systems – natural, socialand economic – Dillard sees the natural system as most important.”The social is dependant on the natural…the economic is part ofthe social,” he said. “We have inverted that hierarchy, andprivilege economic systems over other systems.”

The purpose of business providing goods and services to societyis that, according to Dillard, “Management has a responsibility tosociety, not the other way around.” Dillard says that managementhas been given use of resources by society because it has aresponsibility to be “good stewards of those resources.”

Dillard concluded that the center’s purpose is “to engage in adialogue on how accounting and management can fulfill thisresponsibility.”

As detailed by the center’s mission statement, its goal ofpromoting action in the public’s interests will be “pursued throughscholarly investigation, educational innovation and communityinteraction.” The center will pursue scholarly investigation byidentifying and taking into account public interest issues faced byaccounting and organizational management. Program, course andcurricular development will be part of the center’s educationalinnovation. Conceived as a focal point within the metro andregional community, the center will provoke discussion thatsurrounds the issues of accountability and integrity.

Dillard reiterated that “the economic sectors responsibilityis…valuing democratic society.”

The center has many upcoming projects and events. Moreinformation can be obtained at