SEC wants to improve EDGAR

U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission

The Securities and Exchange Commission wants a new performance-based contract for support and modernization of its automated electronic collection and indexing system.

SEC started the process by issuing a draft request for proposals Nov. 21 and will hold a presolicitation conference at its headquarters Dec. 7 at 2 p.m. with potential vendors and other parties regarding the draft.

In use since the early 1980s, the Electronic Data Gathering, Analysis, and Retrieval system (EDGAR) receives and disseminates about 700,000 filings annually from tens of thousands of corporate securities issues, investment companies and individuals. In fiscal 2005, SEC’s Web site registered more than 375 million online searches for EDGAR filings.

EDGAR has been greatly enhanced since 1998 and with the passage of the Sarbanes-Oxley Act of 2002, which further improved the commission's financial disclosure program. However, the system will continue to need significant enhancement, modernization and architectural redesign, according to an SEC cover letter to prospective vendors.

“Overall, while today’s EDGAR system is built on reasonably modern technology, it is in some ways based on processes and concepts that originated in a paper-based filing environment,” the letter states.

SEC officials plan to develop a long-term strategy for revamping the system, including a new architectural vision and better use of technology to improve customer service and information sharing. According to the letter, some examples could include:

• Converting filed information to structured and interactive formats that would build on the Extensible Markup Language- and Extensible Business Reporting Language-based filings.

• Improving use of metadata to describe specific characteristics of filings and registrants and improving search and analysis.

• Improving ways of authenticating filers and filings.

• Re-engineering EDGAR’s data architecture for increasingly data-intensive filings.

• Restructuring data formats and transmission protocols to share information with the public.

Although many well-qualified vendors exist, the letter states other factors – including innovative spirit, technical and architectural subject matter expertise, and business process redesign – will differentiate a winning bid. Vendors must also understand policies and business issues surrounding the commission’s disclosure program.

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