Stress test puts EDGAR under fire
- By Bryant Jordan
- Nov 30, 2000
The EDGAR database of corporate information is slated for a stress test
in 01/to prove itself to the corporate world.
"We're going to get a bunch of people together and blast our filing service
with filings," said Rick Heroux, project manager for the EDGAR (Electronic
Data Gathering Analysis and Retrieval) database, the Securities and Exchange
Commission's automated system for filing corporate and financial information.
Although it is confident that the system will function smoothly, the SEC
wants to prove it to the tens of thousands of publicly traded companies
that will be using the system.
"This summer, some of our larger customers were concerned that the system
capacity would not be able to handle" large volumes of filings, Heroux said.
In addition to the internal stress test on EDGAR's hardware and software,
he said the agency will enable corporate filers to test the system themselves,
although he doubts they would be able to submit the volume of files necessary
to put EDGAR to a proper test.
When completed, the results of the stress tests will be posted on the SEC Web site.
EDGAR was launched 16 years ago as a dial-up service that required forms
to be in ASCII format, but it has been reconfigured over the past 19 months
to take advantage of the Internet.
With the modernized system, companies may now use the Internet to transmit
HTML files complete with graphics to EDGAR. They also can include hyperlinks
to previously filed documents in the EDGAR database.
The database's ability to accept HTML documents not only makes the SEC Web
site more user-friendly to the public, but it is easier for businesses that
download the information for resale.
Those businesses package the data and sell it to their own corporate customers,
making the EDGAR database a public information service that the private
"There has been some controversy over whether the SEC should be involved
in providing online information," said Jason Mahler, vice president and
general counsel to the Computer and Communications Industry Association
in Washington, D.C. "But EDGAR is something we find is a beneficial service
of the government."
When the database was a fully dial-up, text-based system, the SEC had nine
corporate subscribers to its information service, each paying about $210,000
But as EDGAR moved to HTML, the cost dropped. Today, according to Heroux,
the SEC has three times the number of customers buying its top-shelf service
at a cost of $40,000 a year.