EDGAR's test a success; upgrade nears end

EDGAR's test a success; upgrade nears end

BY PREETI VASISHTHA | GCN STAFF

With a successful stress test tucked under its belt and the integration of a fee tracking upgrade nearly complete, the Securities and Exchange Commission expects to call its filing system modernization a wrap on April 20.

The agency and an independent contractor blasted the Electronic Data Gathering, Analysis and Retrieval system's new online gateway with more than 3,000 filings in a single hour over a December weekend.


Revised EDGAR is ready, SEC's Rick Heroux says.
'It was successful, and we are satisfied,' said Rick Heroux, project manager of EDGAR, SEC's corporate and financial filing system.

The agency decided to test EDGAR's new hardware and software, upgraded to make it Web-ready, after filers expressed concern last summer that the revamped system might falter if bombarded with large volumes of filings.

February is the busiest month for the commission, and on a peak day the database must handle up to 2,500 filings, ranging in size from 2K to 12M, each hour.

Though confident, the EDGAR team didn't want to take any chances. Despite the success of the earlier test, SEC is considering putting the system through another stress test before shutting down the older MS-DOS EDGAR filing system, which the commission has been running concurrently.

One reason for the additional test: SEC made minor programming upgrades that will let users reshuffle documents before filing and allow them to send attachments quickly.

'We just want to make sure that everything works fine'even though these changes are minor,' Heroux said.

Release 8.0, the last scheduled phase of modernization, is planned for completion this spring and is also on track, he said.

The release will integrate EDGAR with SEC's Entities, Filings and Fees System. The commission uses EFFS to calculate and keep track of fees owed by filers'such as public companies, mutual fund managers, investors, filing agents, securities brokers and dealers.

Fund verification required

Once a user files information with EDGAR, the data is forwarded to EFFS, which verifies against bank records whether the user has the funds to support the filing. Right now this process is slow and kludgy.

'We are rewriting EFFS from scratch,' Heroux said. SEC is rewriting the mainframe system's code, originally written in Natural, in Java. Heroux estimated that the work ultimately could affect more than 100,000 lines of code.

'The integration will be transparent to the user, but there will be less points of failure,' Heroux said, adding that the commission will no longer have to rely on the mainframe for verification.

Once this code work is complete, SEC will retire its legacy EDGAR system and EFFS. Even though filers, especially independent filers, continue to use the old ASCII filing system originally created for EDGAR a dozen years ago, Heroux said he is confident all users will soon finish migrating to the Internet filing system.

The commission began letting users file via the Internet in November. So far, SEC is receiving 20 percent of filings through the new gateway, Heroux said. In all, there are about 120,000 EDGAR users.

The three-year, $22.5 million EDGAR modernization program began in 1997. The main goal, Heroux said, has been to reduce the filing burden on the thousands of companies required by law to submit financial data to SEC via EDGAR.

'We'll be ready to open the champagne bottles in April,' Heroux said.

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