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New vendor group tackles compliance issues

Oracle is a leading member of the newly created CMEI Working Group, whose goal is to assist customers in creating a global framework for managing electronic information.

A consortium of technology companies whose ranks include Oracle, HP and Sun Microsystems have joined together to form the Compliance and Management of Electronic Information Working Group (CMEI) as part of a global compliance effort.

As part of the Internet Law & Policy Forum (ILPF), the CMEI Working Group will work with both public and private sector representatives as well as other industry groups to create a global, cross-industry framework for managing electronic information for compliance.

Andrew Konstantaras, executive director of the ILPF, said that his organization is looking forward to working with CMEI to assist its members and their customers with the challenges facing the public and private sector relating to compliance and data management issues.

"We look forward to helping them collaborate with other industry organizations to achieve success," Konstantaras said.

CMEI chairman Harald Collet said the collaboration was the result of a year's worth of efforts by its core membership where each was attempting to band together to address a series of compliance issues.

"The point really is to address some of the challenges customers will be facing and to provide advice in the form of best practices, checklists, and summaries of legal requirements," he said.

Collet, who is also the product manager for records management and compliance support at Oracle, said additional members include Hitachi Data Systems, Network Appliance, Open Text, Plasmon and Veritas. These vendors form the core group, he said, but CMEI is open to other members for a one-time $10,000 membership fee.

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The creation of CMEI was necessary, Collet said, because recent research has shown companies will spend $6.1 billion in 2005 just to comply with the Sarbanes-Oxley Act (SOX).

"[This] is in addition to the resources already committed to retention and maintenance requirements found in US federal, state, and international law. The rapid growth of regulation, combined with the ambiguity of many of the requirements has made compliance not only difficult and expensive, but also in some cases impossible," he said.

Additionally, the CMEI will offer counsel to legislators about the technical and business challenges of regulatory compliance and facilitate information exchange between business, technology and regulatory bodies, Collet said.

One final component of CMEI, Collet said, is that it will hold a series of forums where technology vendors, regulated entities, government leaders and policy experts can discuss the impact of law on end users and develop recommendations and guidelines that will facilitate compliance while allowing companies to continue effective business operations.

"What we are trying to do [with the forums] is create a dialogue where it has been missing between the regulators and the vendors" Collet said.

The forum schedule has not yet been announced, but Collet said the current plan for CMEI is to host them in Washington, D.C. and Brussels with an official announcement arriving in the next six months.

David Yockelson, executive vice president of the Stamford, Conn.-based META Group, said through CMEI, global businesses and legislators will be working diligently to make universal regulatory compliance a reality.

"Having this broad base of technology vendors working together to help facilitate discussions about compliance and provide advice around best practices is a valuable asset for stakeholders on all sides of the compliance issue," he said.

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