For the last nine months, many CEOs and CFOs have been scrambling to understand and quickly comply with the rules and regulations of The Sarbanes- Oxley Act (SOA), the accounting reform and investor protection legislation passed by Congress last summer. The first round of compliance required significant policy and procedure checkpoints to ensure the independence of board members and audit committees, along with CEO/CFO certification of financial results – in essence holding top executives personally responsible for misrepresentation of company performance.

With the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) – SOA's enforcer – continually issuing new rules, CEOs and CFOs are now putting their arms around information technology (IT), enlisting it to assess the impact of compliance on the firm's systems infrastructure. Depending on how it shakes out, the effect could be enormous.

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