AVMA to purchase assets of economics commission

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The National Commission on Veterinary Economic Issues will become part of the AVMA by Sept. 30, pending final approvals, and will dissolve as an independent organization.

NCVEI logo

While meeting June 5-7, the AVMA Executive Board approved purchasing NCVEI assets in response to the commission's funding difficulties, on a recommendation from the AVMA Office of the Executive Vice President.

According to background materials, "This recommendation to purchase the assets of NCVEI is premised on a strategy being developed by AVMA to assume a greater leadership role in addressing the economic critical issues of the profession."

The AVMA is acquiring the NCVEI website, database, and brand. The commission offers a free program at www.ncvei.org that allows veterinary practices to compare their financial data with aggregate figures. The website also provides a variety of other business management tools. The AVMA will maintain the website and database following dissolution of the NCVEI as an organization.

"Over time, we've had over 15,000 practices use the website. That doesn't mean that they use it every single year, but at one time or other, they have come in and used the website," said Dr. Karen E. Felsted, NCVEI chief executive officer. "Usage has been increasing over the last three years."

At the same time, however, the commission has faced challenges in raising funds from the corporate sponsors that had been a primary source of support.

"I think the biggest issue for us has been the recession, and it's just made it incredibly difficult to continue to get funding. Companies have less money to give," Dr. Felsted said. "Instead of just giving to an organization for overall support, they tend to more want to support individual projects."

The AVMA, American Animal Hospital Association, and Association of American Veterinary Medical Colleges formed the NCVEI in 2000 with a mission to improve the economic base of the profession. The founding organizations provided some of the funding for the commission.

Last year, the AAHA disapproved further funding for the NCVEI and withdrew from the commission, citing concerns about the NCVEI business model.

In the AAVMC's 2012 fiscal year, which began July 1, 2011, the association did not allocate funding for the NCVEI, but it will not withdraw from the commission until the dissolution. Dr. Marguerite Pappaioanou, AAVMC executive director, said the AAVMC chose to direct resources toward the North American Veterinary Medical Education Consortium—which, in part, addresses economic issues in veterinary education.

Dr. Felsted said the plan for the NCVEI to become part of the AVMA is a natural fit as the AVMA starts to focus more on economic issues.

According to the background to the recommendation for the AVMA to purchase NCVEI assets, "It is anticipated that AVMA will have developed a more long-term strategic plan for economics issues, including the role of NCVEI, by the end of the year."

Until then, the AVMA will maintain the NCVEI assets in their current form.

The AVMA will purchase the commission's assets out of the $50,000 that the AVMA board previously approved in funding for the NCVEI in 2011. Dr. Felsted said the commission, as a 501(c)3 nonprofit organization, cannot legally give its assets to the AVMA, a 501(c)6 organization. The NCVEI will use the $50,000 for current obligations; any remaining money after the dissolution of the commission would go to a 501(c)3 organization, probably the American Veterinary Medical Foundation.

The AVMA purchase of NCVEI assets depends on an appraisal of the assets for less than $50,000, which the commission had completed by press time; an AVMA review that concludes that the liability risk of acquiring the assets is acceptable and that the AVMA has the ability to assume operation of the website within current budgetary and staff capabilities; creation of a short-term operational plan for transition and management of the assets by the AVMA; and final approval of the purchase by the AVMA executive vice president.

The NCVEI board also must formally approve the purchase.