Healthy Reserves Help Avoid Fee Increases

Healthy Reserves Help Avoid Fee Increases

By Robert M. Barr, MD
ABR Secretary Treasurer

As a 501(c)(6) not-for-profit organization, the ABR files an IRS Form 990 yearly but is exempt from paying taxes. Our most recent Form 990 covers financial transactions from April 1, 2018, through December 31, 2018. Since our fiscal year ending changed last year from March 31 to December 31, this most recent filing represents nine months of ABR operations, making comparison to previous years more complicated. For the future, this change should provide a more easily understood assessment of our annual finances, as it better aligns with our current program cycle.

 

The Form 990 is reported publicly and sheds some light on the size and scope of the ABR. Total revenue for the nine-month period was $14,097,350, which includes $571,753 from investment income. For comparison, prior-year 12-month total revenue was $17,430,259, including $943,213 from investment income. For the calendar year, the ABR administered approximately 4,970 exams and had about 30,000 diplomates enrolled in Maintenance of Certification.

 

Expenses for the nine-month period totaled $12,725,890, of which the largest component, $6,844,241, was the cost of ABR salaries and benefits. The ABR maintains its headquarters in Tucson, Arizona, and leases a testing center in Rosemont, Illinois, near Chicago O’Hare International Airport. Prior-year 12-month total expenses were $16,468,080.

 

Although we experienced positive net revenue in fiscal year 2017 and in the shortened fiscal year 2018, we are anticipating budget shortfalls of $2.5 million in 2019 and $2.2 million in 2020, in part from nonrecurring costs related to Online Longitudinal Assessment (OLA) development. To avoid fee increases during periods of such programmatic enhancements, the ABR relies on reserves that have been established to address fluctuations in capital requirements and operational expenses.

 

Investments at the end of fiscal year 2018 for the ABR totaled $33,669,259. This is less than twice our anticipated annual operational expenses and represents a reasonable level to minimize risk for a not-for-profit organization.

 

The ABR Board of Governors has fiduciary responsibility for the affairs of the ABR. We are committed to maintaining costs at the lowest possible level while meeting our mission: to certify that our diplomates demonstrate the requisite knowledge, skill, and understanding of their disciplines to the benefit of patients. We are fortunate to have a dedicated team of finance professionals, and we engage independent auditors to review our financial statements. In addition to public reporting of our annual Form 990 filing, we maintain platinum status with GuideStar™ as a commitment to transparency. We continuously strive to use our resources wisely to improve services for our candidates and diplomates while providing a robust and credible certification program.

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