The integrity of the financial sector of these organizations controlled by state agencies and related services, would improve. The provisions offered by the act would serve as models based on which standards for other non-profit organizations can be developed in the future. It will create a better understanding of the limitations placed on auditors and a deeper scrutiny of the financial and transaction statements presented by the auditors. While the business governance rules do help out universities to good extent in avoiding scandals, generalizing all sections would not help.
Surveys have been conducted to determine the extent to which the Sarbanes-Oxley act should be implemented in universities and colleges. One of the studies revealed that around half of the respondents think that incorporating certain sections of the act would be a good idea. A research carried out by the corporation PricewaterhouseCoopers' named "Taking the Right Patii" brought together the presidents and officers of different universities. They put forth their own ideas regarding the feasibility of having SOX control the governance, risk management issues and internal controls. The results of the study showed how institutions, regardless of having a public or private status, have an auditing department. They have a minimum of one representative who has financial expertise and have their roles listed down. These are used to select external auditors who would present yearly audit reports. Most public corporations already have officers who present reports about the internal control operations to the auditors. However in a situation that an internal control report is required right away, most institutions would be unprepared. The study also revealed how it is more likely for representatives of public institutions to confirm financial statements compared to those in private ones. The status of risk management is fairly strong with close to 50% of public institutions using risk management techniques as compared to around 30% private ones. Incorporating a more comprehensive risk management structure would be financially harder for most non-profit institutions. (Implications for Nonprofit, 2003)
There are several universities which have included the regulations presented by the act. Some of them include Drexel University, Eastern Michigan University, Purdue University, University of Louisville and DePaul University. Drexel can be considered as the first major university which modified their internal laws according to the best practices stated by the Sarbanes-Oxley act. They employed auditors to look into potential risks which could hamper their internal processing. It currently has a COSO-based yearly audit conducted by people trained to understand the current needs. The university of Louisville adhered to the recommendations put forth by NACUBO and applied some new policies on their working structure. Services offered by external auditors received consent from an internal audit committee before being put into action. The head of the team conduction the audits was changed every 7th year. A council to oversee the progress of the compliance was developed in order to maintain a standard (Goins and Giacomino, 2009).
The latest developments with Sarbanes-Oxley include the investigations conducted over the rules of the act. Recent research results declare that considering the benefits obtained, the expenses faced by corporations to keep up with the rules are proving to a lot more than expected. The senior officers of the PCAOB have a lot of control over operations of American companies in the public sector. They gather funds as a fee from these companies based on how strong their assets are. In addition to this, PCAOB places further charges are imposed to make sure that the 404 rule over bookkeeping controls is being complied with. The difficulty of these steps requires extensive investigations over the smallest of issues. . "A glimmer of hope lies in the fact that Sarbox, drafted in the political panic following the Enron and Worldcom accounting scandals, failed to include a "severability clause." Thus if PCAOB is struck down as unconstitutional, all of Sarbanes-Oxley could come crashing down with it."(Freeman, 2009). "There is evidence that many educational institutions are already voluntarily complying with SOX principles and NACUBO recommendations because they believe it will benefit them. Smith provides some evidence of attitudes of business officers toward implementation of SOX at universities and colleges, and NACUBO's survey documents the degree of implementation up to 2004." (Goins and Giacomino,2009).
According to a study conducted by the SEC in 2003, a medium sized company could have most of their internal control operations done at around $91k yearly. Studies in more recent years have revealed this number to rise pretty steeply, choking start-up companies. The latest results have shown the section 404 to cost average sized companies over $2 million every year, just to follow all parts of its compliance rules. It revealed how the its effect the smaller organizations can be over 7 times as compared to those which are larger in assets. When surveyed on the benefits received, less than 20% of the companies said that the good points make up for the amount spend by them. There are a greater number of people who consider the act to have a bad effect on their company's efficiency. It has decreased the time efficiency of the financial reporting operations. The SEC survey revealed how the section 404 of the Sabanes-Oxley Act has directed a lot of companies to transfer to the private sector. The act has supposedly resulted in U.S. based organizations to cut down the investments in research based activities as compared to Canadian and British companies. It does not support innovation as by making officers more liable to committing crime, they are forced to rethink before making any investment so that it does not prove harmful in the future. The level of difficulty at which the firms operate and how much they rely on specific expertise, decide the possible risks which can show up while presenting the financial statements. (Freeman,2009).
There are several ways in which the compliance issues with SOX can be brought under control. (Waldron, 2006)
1. The team which has the responsibility of implementing the measures should consider incorporating a training session of a few weeks before starting out. The chief officer leading the team should be familiarized with the most efficient techniques of interacting with other team members via formally organized seminars to create a foundation for the future.
2. A decent plan always helps in approaching any issue. Chalking out a strong project plan to deal with the compliance needs to coupled with enough background research.
3. Maintaining a record of every it based application being used within the corporation is essential. Any of their systems related directly or indirectly to the financial sectors of the company needs to be taken into account as well.
4. As an addition to those records, the employees associated with the working process are to be taken into consideration as well.
5. Creation of the record should be followed by a risk management stage, where all the possible ways in which the financial information can get corrupted should be gathered and analyzed.
6. Newer options of stabilizing the financial structure should be considered so that changes in versions, secure systems and better management can be incorporated in the future.
7. Applications to start random sampling operations based on monthly or quarterly durations should be utilized in order to find better ways of adhering to the requirements of the act.
8. An effective plan should be prepared for the Section 404 of SOX to control the it department in accordance with its rules.
9. It is essential to keep in touch with the auditors (both internal and external) and verify the completeness of every stage before proceeding forward.
10. All the documentation including the different plans related to the act should be stored securely in an electronic library.
11. Suggestions from the experienced officers are essential for long-term success. Gaining their support in the areas of human resources and finances is essential when it comes to achieving optimal compliance.
12. As soon as the process starts, the variations in business requirements which come along, need to be dealt with efficiently. (Waldron, 2006)
We can conclude by saying that the Sarbanes-Oxley Act has continued to benefit the market since it came into being. It is making executives double check their internal processing, as per the compliance of the act, enhancing the accuracy of their transaction statements. It has significantly, if not completely protected the investors from being victims of fraud. The reduction in the count of lawsuits being filed by investors and the fact that the number is close to being the lowest ever since 1996 is proof itself that the act has made an impact. Experts in the sector of corporate governance agree and state how it has changed the face of boardroom politics. The level of focus which the officers dedicate towards their job has increased as well. The time spent in organizing company operations and keeping track of everything has increased as well. Directors have a lot of responsibility with regards to satisfying Sarbanes-Oxley requirements. The new…