Sixty-five percent of polled respondents claim to be actively involved in an ongoing Sarbanes-Oxley (SOX) project, while 25 percent are said to be planning to initiate a project in the near term, according to a META Group, Inc. survey. The results were based on a recent survey of more than 100 companies regarding their efforts to meet SOX compliance.

While SOX is the major lightning rod for compliance initiatives in the U.S., along with HIPAA and the USA PATRIOT Act, 88 percent of respondents from multinational firms claim SOX projects are managed as global initiatives.

"Because of the required high level of preparation on a global scale, many firms will utilize SOX as a means of improving business efficiency, going beyond what is merely required to comply," said John Van Decker, META Group's lead Sarbanes-Oxley compliance analyst and author of the survey. "We expect company leaders to initiate projects that deploy applications providing visibility/transparency, financial controls and communications and fraud protection."

According to 45 percent of surveyed respondents, CFOs are the most likely leaders to initiate SOX projects, due to their focus on financial management. Internal auditors ranked a distant second (24 percent of respondents). However, an overwhelming majority favor their audit partner for compliance work (59 percent), and this is contrary to META Group's recommendation that a third party be used.

"While this may make the audit attestation process smoother, it limits the multiple views and guidance that may prove invaluable for a relatively new and untested regulatory environment," said Van Decker. "Only 6 percent project that they will use a different audit vendor, and only 3 percent will employ a specialty compliance vendor."

META Group also cautions the 29 percent that believe they can do this on their own, again pointing to the relatively untested regulatory environment and the lack of experienced resources (actually none) internally.

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