1. SEC Isn't Satisfied With Disclosure Of Firms' Progress on Y2K Problem
From this morning's WSJ.
February 10, 1999
SEC Isn't Satisfied With Disclosure
Of Firms' Progress on Y2K Problem
By ELIZABETH MACDONALD
Staff Reporter of THE WALL STREET JOURNAL
Public companies still aren't properly disclosing their fixes and costs for
year-2000 computer problems, the Securities and Exchange Commission said,
which could lead to increased enforcement actions by the agency.
"We've already made clear what we want disclosed, and we're not getting it,"
said Laura S. Unger, the SEC commissioner overseeing the agency's year-2000
efforts. "We are now looking to bring enforcement actions against companies
who fail to properly make these disclosures." The actions could result in
censures, court injunctions and/or fines against these companies.
In 1998, the agency began requiring public companies to disclose in their
SEC filings their costs and backup plans to fix any potential year-2000
computer problems. The year-2000, or Y2K, problem stems from the concern
that the failure of many computers to distinguish between the years 2000 as
1900 will trigger erroneous information or computer shutdowns.
But a recent SEC survey of third-quarter 1998 filings from 400 public
companies found that half failed to disclose how much it has cost them to
fix their year-2000 problems; about half also didn't describe backup plans.
A separate SEC survey of third-quarter 1998 filings found 1,200 public
companies failed to make any disclosures whatsoever. After the SEC notified
these 1,200 companies about their lack of disclosures earlier this month,
111 companies subsequently acknowledged to the agency they made improper
disclosures. So far, 78 companies amended their filings to include this
information. But another 132 companies told the SEC they didn't make any
disclosures because they said the amounts involved were "immaterial," which
is allowed under existing rules; the SEC is expected soon to release
tightened rules covering materiality.
Also in 1998, the SEC began requiring that broker-dealers, transfer agents
and registered investment planners such as individual advisers and
mutual-fund companies file new forms with the agency disclosing their
An SEC analysis of these new disclosure forms from 5,400 investment advisers
found that while 95% said they have a plan to fix year-2000 problems, only
65% had put a plan in writing.
About 60% of the 5,400 told the agency they had a backup plan if their
initial fixes to year-2000 computer problems fail. But only one-third had
put those plans in writing. The SEC has begun contacting these entities
about their disclosures.
"The quality of the disclosure is still not very good; it's a source of
considerable concern that investors still don't have enough information to
gauge the severity of the problem," Ms. Unger said. "Analysts, outside
auditors and board audit committees really should start demanding this
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