By a margin of nearly two to one, large U.S. companies have made compliance with the Sarbanes-Oxley Act part of their regular corporate governance approach and have integrated it with other regulatory activities, according to PricewaterhouseCoopers' Management Barometer.
The survey of senior executives at U.S.-based multinational companies found that 64 percent say their company's senior management and board of directors see Sarbanes-Oxley as one of many steps in a larger corporate governance initiative, while 30 percent say it is simply a goal to be achieved, and six percent are uncertain. In addition, 62 percent report Sarbanes-Oxley is integrated with their other corporate regulatory compliance processes, but 34 percent say it is not and four percent are uncertain.
Despite complaints by some companies about the increased costs and regulatory burden imposed by Sarbanes-Oxley, 56 percent of respondents said their company does not track and report internally on the costs of Sarbanes-Oxley and other compliance programs. Forty-one percent do track such costs.
According to the survey, 79 percent of surveyed executives say their company must make improvements in order to comply with Section 404 of Sarbanes-Oxley, which requires companies to file a management assertion and auditor attestation on the effectiveness of internal controls over financial reporting. Among areas needing remediation include financial processes (55 percent), computer controls (48 percent), internal audit effectiveness (37 percent), security controls (35 percent), audit committee oversight (26 percent) and fraud programs (24 percent).
Looking ahead, 93 percent of executives expect their company to launch process improvement initiatives to streamline future Sarbanes-Oxley compliance. Some areas cited include financial reporting (63 percent), risk identification and assessment (61 percent), risk mitigation (55 percent), IT security strategy and implementation (55 percent), internal audit (55 percent), compliance management (54 percent) and IT oversight and operations (45 percent).
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