July 8, 2004
As one who has has used FOIA to access comment letters prepared by the staff of the Division of Corporation Finance, I am acutely aware of the benefits of having access to such material. The prospect of obtaining more direct access will enable investors to obtain micro and macro insights. The micro insights are the more self-evident, i.e., to be able to determine which accounting measurements and disclosures applied by particular registrants are deemed to be questionable. At the macro level, investors will be able to peruse SEC comments in a manner that will provide enhanced understanding of more global considerations such as discerning the Commissions stance with regard to compliance is the areas of completeness and responsiveness of MDA submissions. I do however want to suggest that as the SEC proceeds with implementation, it be aware of two logistical considerations - speed and monetary cost. By speed, I refer to the turnaround time if the new system were to entail pencil-and-paper requests. Therefore, I encourage the SEC to make the new service accessible online. The monetary-cost issue is a similar problem with the same potential remedy: when pursuing the FOIA route, the investor was charged a fee for photocopying. While this can be onerous, it became especially frustrating when sheets received had sections blackened out. By making staff comments available online, there are no photocopying/paper/labor/postage costs to speak of. In sum, I strongly encourage the SEC to proceed forthwith.