RE: Sarbanes-Oxley 404 Project Information - RANT

Subject: RE: Sarbanes-Oxley 404 Project Information - RANT
From: "Bill Darnall" <darcom -at- sbcglobal -dot- net>
To: "TECHWR-L" <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- raycomm -dot- com>
Date: Fri, 12 Mar 2004 15:56:47 -0800

Aughhh... Does that mean the auditing work will go to the newly reformed and
downsized Big 4? The very same firms who helped inspire SOX?

Bear with me; in my mind this is a technical communication issue because it
bears on the question of audience. I've been involved in several different
regulatory environments (not SOX though), and usually the auditing
environment determines how the documentation is handled.

Mike O.

Bill Darnall wrote:
> 1. It is similar to the way all financial audits should have been
> in the past. Qualified independent third-party auditors must perform the
> audits.



I understand your concern; but, I wrote more than this single partial
extract, and I included some of what I think are highly relevant references.

Sarbanes-Oxley is not a simple YES/NO or GOOD/BAD or RED/BLUE (I probably
can't say "black/white" without offending someone) issue.

Rather than getting too cynical about SOX, I suggest we all review the
safeguards that are in place to make sure the law is followed. This includes
an understanding of the penalties, of up to ten years in prison, that I
previously mentioned. For those who are truly interested in learning about
Sarbanes-Oxley, it will be necessary to study the Act and to read some of
the books on the subject and to have conversations with people who are
working in the field.

In my opinion, SOX is MUCH MUCH MUCH more than a technical communications
issue. It is about corporate business ethics and public trust. As far as the
style of writing, and more particularly the vocabulary, that must be
specific to the business area. Just as software has its own vernacular,
finance and accounting terms have very specific meanings. If we don't know
the meaning of these terms we will not be able to do a good job in writing
about them.

I hope you are not suggesting that we, as technical writers, will be forced
to document policies and procedures that are spineless and gutless. One of
the things I used to do when I taught technical writing, was to spend a
couple of sessions on STC's Ethical Guidelines. If we don't adhere to proper
ethics in preparing our documentation, we are no better than the corporate
officials who defraud the public.

If we believe there will be NO compliance with the Sarbanes-Oxley Act, then
our society is doomed! Then, perhaps we should consider moving to another
country (like where?).

However, I'm sure you know, as a result of financial improprieties, several
high-profile executives are now behind bars. And, you may recall that at
least one of the large (auditing) organizations is no longer such a large

Bill D.


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