SEC will run new and old EDGAR temporarily

SEC will run new and old EDGAR temporarily

By Mark A. Kellner

Special to GCN

The Securities and Exchange Commission will extend the life of the current generation of its Electronic Data Gathering, Analysis and Retrieval system until mid-April'nearly five months longer than first planned'so users can adjust to the new Internet filing program.

Over Thanksgiving weekend, the commission will launch one of the government's first major forays into use of Extensible Markup Language forms. Over a six-day period, SEC will roll out the next-generation EDGAR, which will let users file financial information via a Web application.

Holiday lull

SEC officials decided to undertake the $22.5 million upgrade over the holiday weekend because the Friday following Thanksgiving historically has had the fewest filings of any day of the year [GCN, Sept. 4, Page 1].

The new Web application has been tested by only 10 percent of the filing community, the financial and publicly held companies required by law to file reports with the commission. The commission wants to give the other 90 percent of EDGAR filers a chance to try the new process before it makes the use of the new app mandatory, SEC officials said.

After Thanksgiving and through April 20, the agency will lets users file via both the old and new systems. Originally, SEC had planned to shut down its 15-year-old, MS-DOS filing app shortly after the upgrade.

'Filers are strongly urged to migrate to the new, modernized EDGARLink and EDGAR system now,' the commission said in a statement. 'We will make every effort to keep the legacy filing system fully operational during this extended period, but no further system expansion or improvements are planned.'

Through the cutover, the commission will replace the MS-DOS filing system with one using the Extensible Forms Description Language, or XFDL, created by PureEdge Solutions Inc. of Bellevue, Wash., and Tim Bray, co-editor of the original XML specification.

The company has provided the commission with predefined document templates. The documents can be submitted online securely by a user who has an SEC-assigned log-on identification and password. Additional security is provided through the use of a digital signature program from VeriSign Inc. of Mountain View, Calif. (see story, Page 38).

'We needed to modernize our systems and make the filing process not just easier, but less expensive for taxpayers and companies required to file with us,' said Rick Heroux, the commission's EDGAR program manager.

The PureEdge InternetForms provide XML templates for SEC's 397 forms, such as 10-Ks and 10-Qs. A user will download a form from the EDGAR Web site, complete it, digitally sign it and then upload the completed form to the site. Filers can also attach related documents to the forms.

The commission anticipates receiving 6,000 filings per day on average from the 110,000 public companies and other entities that are required to file financial documents.

'We looked at several different document technologies and consulted with market analysts' at GartnerGroup Inc. of Stamford, Conn., said Richard Truax, EDGAR project program manager for TRW Inc., the prime EDGAR contractor.

'The PureEdge InternetForms Commerce System allowed us to update EDGAR from a DOS format to an XML format, as well as offer a more graphical, easy-to-use interface,' he said.

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