The Buzz: Search Engines

Mark Cuban weighs in on parenting, MySpace

Ever wonder why everyone on the planet can find out about your kid on and you cant? Former dot-com executive and Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban has a few ideas.

Here are some excerpts from Cubans

"My daughter is only 2. Not old enough, yet, to have a MySpace page. Not quite, anyway. But I have some friends with kids who are right at the age where they are concerned.

"They want to be able to find out if they are on there; if they are being talked about; if they are referred to in any way; or if their friends, schools or as-sociates are. Its always been possible to use search engines to search or any URL using the ["site:"] command on Google or, but few parents are search-engine-literate enough to know how to do so.

"I know [read the manual] has taken on a whole new meaning these days, but very few read or try to understand the advanced features of search engines. Its the millenniums equivalent of the blinking 12:00 on VCRs. The advanced [search] link stares you in the face all the time, but its just ignored."


Could the SEC pass SarbOx?

The Securities and Exchange Commission enforces the Sarbanes-Oxley Act, but could it meet the regulatory requirements if it had to? Probably not.

In a letter to the SEC, the Government Accountability Office gave the SEC 14 recommendations—in addition to others that were given in November—to "improve its internal con-trols and accounting procedures."

Turns out that the SECs controls simply arent up to snuff, based on the GAOs audit of 2005 and 2004 financial statements and controls.

In the audit of the SECs fiscal year 2004 financial statements, the GAO found weaknesses related to controls for preparing financial statements and related disclosures, recording and reporting disgorgement, and penalty activity and information security.

In 2005, the GAO dinged the SEC for having control weaknesses in reviewing filing fee calculations and compliance with the Prompt Payment rule.

The GAO says the SEC, which doesnt dispute the process problems, has made progress fixing these issues. Nevertheless, the GAO added some recommendations. Some of the recommendations include: create internal controls for financial statement prepa-ration; finalize formal written policies for financial reporting, internal controls and quality assurance; create a council to oversee financial reporting; create an accounting policy for penalties; document debt and fees and monitor investments; and better track invoices.

Financial Controls

Luckily for the SEC ...

At least the SEC isnt alone with its financial and process controls issues.

The GAO also dinged the U.S. Treasurys processes for creating CFSes (consolidated financial statements) for the U.S. government.

"Specifically, GAO has re-ported that the U.S. government did not have adequate systems, controls, and procedures to properly prepare the CFS," said the GAO in a report.

According to the GAO, the government has weaknesses in linking audited financial results for comparison purposes, auditing closing packages, monitoring internal controls, giving guidance to federal agencies and reconciling financial activity among U.S. government entities.

And thats just the beginning. The GAO made 154 recommendations in May 2005 regarding the processes behind consolidating financials. As of Dec. 2, 2005, 131 recommendations remained open. Most of those 131 outstanding issues relate to "specific disclosures required under U.S. generally accepted accounting principles."