Sarbanes-Oxley (SOX) compliance hit corporate budgets with a wallop. According to Boston-based AMR Research Inc., U.S. public companies spent a total of $5.5 billion on SOX compliance in 2004, and they'll spend an additional $5.8 billion this year.Meanwhile, although 95% of senior audit professionals acknowledge that reduction in staff time and associated costs is key to maintaining effective SOX 404 compliance, 58% of them also say their firms have no plans to automate the 404 controls testing process this year. That's according to a recent survey of 247 senior audit professionals conducted by ACL Services Ltd., Vancouver, B.C., and the Center for Continuous Auditing.

"While internal auditors are overwhelmingly in favor of adopting technology and best practices of continuous monitoring and auditing, organizations frequently don't seem ready or willing to back them up," says Harald Will, president and CEO of ACL Services.

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