Significant opportunities still exist for optimization of Sarbanes-Oxley Section 404 programs and reductions in compliance cost, according to a new report.

The report, from BMR Advisors and Financial Executives Research Foundation, the research affiliate of Financial Executives International, identifies program scope and program structure as the two principal drivers of SOX program efficiency. Although scope has the more direct impact on overall compliance cost, companies at the higher levels of SOX maturity have also made efforts to optimize the structure of their SOX programs such that internal and external costs are controlled.

Many organizations began to benefit from Auditing Standard No. 5 and the new SEC interpretive guidance before they officially came into effect, and the overwhelming feedback is that the new approach has driven significant cost reductions. However, companies have not reaped the full reward of AS5, and some have shown little or no reduction in scope since the early days of SOX.

Full copies of the report, "SOX Optimization: Operational Trends," are available for download at www.ferf.org under the "reports" section.  

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