On July 30, 2002 , President Bush signed into law the Sarbanes-Oxley Act (SOX) of 2002. The Act, which applies in general to publicly held companies and their audit firms, dramatically affects the accounting profession and impacts not just the largest accounting firms, but any CPA actively working as an auditor of, or for, a publicly traded company. The basic implications of the Act for accountants are summarized below.
The Sarbanes-Oxley Act introduced highly significant legislative changes to financial practice and corporate governance regulation. It introduced stringent new rules with the stated objective: "to protect investors by improving the accuracy and reliability of corporate disclosures made pursuant to the securities laws".
It also introduced a number of deadlines, the prime ones being:
The act is actually named after its main architects, Senator Paul Sarbanes and Representative Michael Oxley, and of course followed a series of very high profile scandals, such as Enron. It is also intended to "deter and punish corporate and accounting fraud and corruption, ensure justice for wrongdoers, and protect the interests of workers and shareholders" (Quote: President Bush).
The Sarbanes-Oxley Act itself is organized into eleven titles, although sections 302, 404, 401, 409, 802 and 906 are the most significant with respect to compliance and internal control.
In order to assist our clients with their Sarbanes-Oxley compliance tasks, Management Systems Consulting, Inc. is offering its highly trained Information Systems Auditors to work towards meeting the internal control requirements. As with any internal controls or audit documentation project, a background in accounting, systems and technology is a requirement. Our unique experience provides that across a multitude of technology platforms and industries.
(a) REGULATIONS REQUIRED.—The Commission shall, by rule, require, for each company filing periodic reports under section 13(a) or 15(d) of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934 (15 U.S.C. 78m,
78o(d)), that the principal executive officer or officers and the principal financial officer or officers, or persons performing similar functions, certify in each annual or quarterly report filed or submitted under either such section of such Act that—
(1) the signing officer has reviewed the report;
(2) based on the officer’s knowledge, the report does not contain any untrue statement of a material fact or omit to state a material fact necessary in order to make the statements made, in light of the circumstances under which such statements were made, not misleading;
(3) based on such officer’s knowledge, the financial statements, and other financial information included in the report, fairly present in all material respects the financial condition and results of operations of the issuer as of, and for, the periods presented in the report;
(4) the signing officers—
(A) are responsible for establishing and maintaining internal controls;
(B) have designed such internal controls to ensure that material information relating to the issuer and its consolidated subsidiaries is made known to such officers by others within those entities, particularly during the period in which the periodic reports are being prepared;
(C) have evaluated the effectiveness of the issuer’s internal controls as of a date within 90 days prior to the report; and
(D) have presented in the report their conclusions about the effectiveness of their internal controls based on their evaluation as of that date;
(5) the signing officers have disclosed to the issuer’s auditors and the audit committee of the board of directors (or persons fulfilling the equivalent function)—
(A) all significant deficiencies in the design or operation of internal controls which could adversely affect the issuer’s ability to record, process, summarize, and report financial data and have identified for the issuer’s auditors any material weaknesses in internal controls; and
(B) any fraud, whether or not material, that involves management or other employees who have a significant role in the issuer’s internal controls; and
(6) the signing officers have indicated in the report whether or not there were significant changes in internal controls or in other factors that could significantly affect internal controls subsequent to the date of their evaluation, including any corrective actions with regard to significant deficiencies and material weaknesses.
(a) RULES REQUIRED.—The Commission shall prescribe rules requiring each annual report required by section 13(a) or 15(d) of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934 (15 U.S.C. 78m or 78o(d)) to contain an internal control report, which shall—
(1) state the responsibility of management for establishing and maintaining an adequate internal control structure and procedures for financial reporting; and
(2) contain an assessment, as of the end of the most recent fiscal year of the issuer, of the effectiveness of the internal control structure and procedures of the issuer for financial reporting.
(b) INTERNAL CONTROL EVALUATION AND REPORTING.—With respect to the internal control assessment required by subsection (a), each registered public accounting firm that prepares or issues the audit report for the issuer shall attest to, and report on, the assessment made by the management of the issuer. An attestation made under this subsection shall be made in accordance with standards for attestation engagements issued or adopted by the Board. Any such attestation shall not be the subject of a separate engagement.