The SEC announced a modification to its filing review correspondence program on Dec. 1, 2011. Since a policy change in 2005, the SEC has been publicly releasing its correspondence, including comment letters and response letters, “no earlier than 45 days” after completion of the disclosure filing review process. The SEC will accelerate its release schedule to “no earlier than 20 business days” after review completion effective Jan. 1, 2012. The SEC’s stated purpose is to enhance the transparency of the review process.
OUR TAKE: While reporting companies have become accustomed over the last six years to the availability on EDGAR of comment and response correspondence, this policy change means that the temporarily private exchange between the SEC staff and the reporting company will become available to the public more quickly than ever. Depending on the nature of comments and responses, this may have an impact on a company’s public disclosures. And although not quite real-time, it will also give other issuers and the public generally quicker insight into staff positions on filing issues and the resolution of those issues.