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Gartner: Savor Sarbanes Extension

The extension of the Sarbanes-Oxley Act (SOA) deadline is good news for overburdened IT managers in the Fortune 500, but they should use the borrowed time wisely, according to analyst firm Gartner Inc.

The SOA, passed in response to the scandals at Enron, WorldCom, et al., requires company managers to attest that they have established and maintain internal control over their companys financial reporting. Because so much of what goes into a company’s financial reporting is tied to technology these days -- you have to query databases, inventory management systems, etc. -- then the IT manager has to figure out how to get specific information from a variety of sources in the IT infrastructure.

Section 404 of the SOA also requires IT managers to report material changes to the financial reporting process. So, for example, any major software system update in a company’s IT infrastructure could require more compliance paperwork from the IT department.

Given all that background, it’s not surprising that the SOA deadline extension is particularly welcome relief for major corporations.

Here’s how the deadlines have changed: Companies on an accelerated filing schedule -- meaning companies with a $75 million-plus market cap that have filed at least one annual report with the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) -- must now comply with the Act for their first fiscal year ending on or after November 15, 2004. The original deadline for accelerated filers had been June 15, 2004.

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