L e a r n I n g o b j e c t I v e s

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1. A belief system describes how a company creates value, helps employees understand management’s vision, communicates company core values, and inspires employees to live by those values.
2. A boundary system helps employees act ethically by setting boundaries on employee behavior. Instead of telling employees exactly what to do, they are encouraged to creatively solve problems and meet customer needs while meeting minimum performance standards, shunning off-limit activities, and avoiding actions that might damage their reputation.
3. A diagnostic control system measures, monitors, and compares actual company progress to budgets and performance goals. Feedback helps management adjust and fine-tune inputs and processes so future outputs more closely match goals.
4. An interactive control system helps managers to focus subordinates attention on key strategic issues and to be more involved in their decisions. Interactive system data are interpreted and discussed in face-to-face meetings of superiors, subordinates, and peers.
Regrettably, not all organizations have an effective internal control system. For instance, one report indicated that the FBI is plagued by IT infrastructure vulnerabilities and security problems, some of which were identified in an audit 16 years previously. Specific areas of concern were security standards, guidelines, and procedures segregation of duties access controls, including password management and usage backup and recovery controls and software development and change controls.
In 1977, the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act (FCPA) was passed to prevent companies from bribing foreign officials to obtain business. Congress incorporated language from an American Institute of Certified Public Accountants (AICPA) pronouncement into the FCPA that required corporations to maintain good systems of internal control. Unfortunately, these requirements were not sufficient to prevent further problems.
In the late sand early s, news stories were reporting accounting frauds at Enron,
WorldCom, Xerox, Tyco, Global Crossing, Adelphia, and other companies. When Enron, with
$62 billion in assets, declared bankruptcy in December 2001, it was the largest bankruptcy in US. history. In June 2002, Arthur Andersen, once the largest CPA firm, collapsed. The Enron bankruptcy was dwarfed when WorldCom, with over $100 billion in assets, filed for bankruptcy in July 2002. In response to these frauds, Congress passed the Sarbanes–Oxley Act
(SOX) of 2002. SOX applies to publicly held companies and their auditors and was designed to prevent financial statement fraud, make financial reports more transparent, protect investors, strengthen internal controls, and punish executives who perpetrate fraud.
SOX is the most important business-oriented legislation in the last 80 years. It changed the way boards of directors and management operate and had a dramatic impact on CPAs who audit them. The following are some of the most important aspects of SOX:

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