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September 24, 2023

CPA Canada Has Brought In the Lawyers to Figure Out How Last Month’s CFE Got So F*cked Up

Aw snap, shit’s real now, the lawyers have gotten involved.

ICYMI, the long and short of the CFE debacle (lovingly dubbed “Fyre Festival for accountants” by angry Redditors) is that candidates in multiple jurisdictions were greeted with countless technical issues that peaked on Day 2 of the marathon three-day exam. Some candidates reported being “held hostage” at the testing center without so much as a snack to tide them over. As you can expect, candidates were less than forgiving when CPA Canada apologized.

CPA Canada has confirmed to the Financial Post that they’ve brought on national law firm Borden Ladner Gervais to conduct “an independent review” after informing CFE candidates of the review. CPA Canada’s email to candidates was shared to Reddit last week, and because I’m feeling generous, I’ll go ahead and transcribe the entirety of it here.

We have taken the following actions to date in order to determine what occurred with the CFE:

1. We are gathering a comprehensive inventory of all the challenges that were encountered on a centre by centre basis;
2. We have undertaken an internal, technical review of both software and internet (Wi-Fi) issues;
3. We have reached out to our vendor partners for their assistance in unpacking what took place;
4. We have retained the national law firm of Borden Ladner Gervais (BLG) to lead an independent, third party review;
5. BLG has retained a world-leading technical expert to undertake a detailed review of the software and Wi-Fi issues; and
6. BLG is also retaining a world-leading psychometrician (an expert in the validity, fairness and reliability of examinations).

In addition, it appears as though CPA Canada nixed the troubled Surpass software completely for the PEP (Professional Education Program) exam and went with trusty ole Excel instead.

The email to candidates continues:

As you can appreciate, it will be impossible to have all of this work complete prior to the scheduled PEP exam this Wednesday and Thursday. Therefore, out of an abundance of caution for you and your fellow writers, and based on the advice of our experts, we have put the following risk mitigation strategies in place for this week’s PEP exam:

1. All candidates will write their examination using Microsoft Word and Excel on their computers and access the reference materials through a dedicated URL;
2. Additional Wi-Fi capacity will be provided in all exam writing centres;
3. Wi-Fi-enabled USB sticks will be procured and held on stand by in case of router failure;
4. Additional IT support and invigilators/proctors will be deployed to each site;
5. As well managers will be on site and will work in concert with managers across all sites to ensure a coordinated response to any issues that may arise.

Please be assured that we understand the substantial investment of time and effort that goes into preparing and writing this examination. We are working around the clock to ensure that no exam-writer experiences the disruptions and difficulties that we saw around the CFE.

As far as we can tell, PEP went ahead without any major issues, so now we wait for the lawyers to do their part and figure out who is best to go straight under the bus for last month’s clusterfuck, I guess.

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