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SOX 404 Redux: It’s Groundhog Day

Harvey L. Pitt | February 27, 2007

In the movie, “Groundhog Day,” Bill Murray plays Phil Connors, a self-absorbed, egotistical, and determinedly obnoxious Pittsburgh TV weatherman, who finds himself in Punxsutawney, Pa., to cover Groundhog Day. Phil doesn’t like this assignment, but his unwelcome endeavor turns into a spectacular nightmare, as he’s required to repeat Groundhog Day over and over again until he finally inculcates the true meaning of life and figures out the proper way to engage in human relations. Phil goes from anger, to frustration, to deception, to learning finally how to behave.

To a similar extent, American corporations have been forced into a time warp of their own. In 2002, Congress adopted Sarbanes-Oxley and, in particular, Section 404, which requires managements to report on the state of their internal controls, and auditors to report on managements’ assessments of their internal controls. It is, by now, commonly agreed that the initial guidance provided by...

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