An independent report, backed by data from Big Four clients, shows that corporate auditing costs for Sarbanes-Oxley 404 compliance dropped significantly in 2005.

The report, conducted by Boston-based economic consulting firm CRA International, found that the average costs for 404 - the internal controls provision of the landmark reform act - for 58 Fortune 1000 companies dropped 44 percent last year, to $4.8 million.

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