Financial Accounting Blog

Friday, September 12, 2003 article about the costs to corporations of accounting and recordkeeping required to comply with the Sarbanes-Oxley Act, passed by Congress in 2002 as an attempt to curb corrupt accounting practices such as those of Enron, Worldcom, and Tyco. This was an interesting article, because we talked about the cost versus benefits of gathering accounting information in class; in this case, there seem to be a lot of corporations arguing that the costs are too high. SWH
Yet by the end of the year, EMC will have spent more than $1 million and thousands of man-hours complying with two of the main statutes in the Sarbanes-Oxley Act of 2002 — Section 404, related to internal controls; and Section 302, mandating CEO and CFO certifications of quarterly financial statements. Teuber won't even speculate on the price tag for full compliance, except to say "it's not insignificant." Moreover, he doesn't expect that burden to lift, thanks to ongoing testing and disclosure requirements. "Even maintenance mode will require a sizable effort," he says.

Like Teuber, CFOs across America say they are spending more time and money trying to shoehorn existing practices into legally acceptable formats. Forty-eight percent of companies will spend at least $500,000 on Sarbanes-Oxley compliance, according to finance executives who participated in a recent CFO magazine survey. Unlike Teuber, however — who sees the increased internal-controls documentation as "a chance to get best-of-breed solutions in our sales offices across 50-plus countries" — other CFOs (nearly 40 percent) see the increased burden as having "very little" or "no effect" on their current processes. Moreover, only 30 percent believe the benefits outweigh the costs.