A new survey says that public companies will not spend nearly as much in 2005 as in 2004 to assess internal controls over financial reports.

The survey, by economic consulting firm CRA International, was commissioned by Deloitte & Touche, Ernst & Young, KPMG and PricewaterhouseCoopers. Its projections show that costs will fall by 40 percent on average compared to 2004.

Large and smaller companies will see costs in this area fall substantially this year, according to the survey, which was based on a random sample of the Big Four's public-company audit clients.In a letter from the Big Four firms to Securities and Exchange Commission Chairman Christopher Cox, released alongside the survey results, the firms said that the results suggested that a hefty portion of the first-year costs were due to start-up costs and one-time factors that will diminish over time.

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