The Securities and Exchange Commission's Office of Economic Analysis has extended the deadline to January 31 for public companies to participate in a Web-based survey about the costs and benefits of Section 404 of the Sarbanes-Oxley Act.

The survey, available at, will help inform the SEC's ongoing cost-benefit study of Section 404 implementation with a focus on the consequences for smaller companies.

"The survey provides companies with an opportunity to share their experiences and provide a comprehensive set of facts on the effectiveness and efficiency of compliance with the rules established pursuant to Section 404," said SEC Chief Economist James Overdahl (pictured) in a statement.

More than 2,000 companies already have completed the voluntary survey, which is open to any company with Section 404 compliance experience in the U.S. and globally. "This large number of responses is encouraging," said SEC Assistant Chief Economist Cindy Alexander. "A further increase in the number of responding companies can improve the information and insight to be gained from the study."

The original deadline was January 16. The survey is being conducted among all registered corporations, with special attention on smaller companies that are scheduled to begin complying with Section 404(b) requirements at the end of this year.

Section 404(b) requires that companies have an independent audit of their internal controls over financial reporting in addition to the internal management assessment of internal controls required under Section 404(a).

The cost benefit study will help the SEC assess the effects of measures it and the Public Company Accounting Oversight Board have taken in recent years, including whether the measures have helped companies reduce their costs of compliance and whether the commission should consider additional measures. These measures include new guidance for management's Section 404 assessment, which was issued last year, and the PCAOB's effort to make the Section 404(b) auditor attestation process more efficient.

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