26 June 2010

A great step forward for XBRL in the US

This e-mail came from XBRL US Inc yesterday (June 26). I'm certain that almost everyone in the XBRL community has seen it. Clearly this will be a great step forward for the adoption of XBRL for business reporting, certainly in the United States.

When this passes and is signed into law, the entire community should collectively open a bottle of fizzy white wine. When the OMB (Office of Management of Budget) says that the Data Standard is XBRL, then the entire community should collectively open a bottle (or two or three) of Moet (or better).

A huge amount will have been accomplished, and the leadership of XBRL US Inc will have a tremendous accomplishment to be proud of.

Basically going forward all recipients of grants from the US Federal Government will be required to report in a "Standard Data Format" - defined in such a way as to make XBRL the logical candidate for such reporting. The opportunities for improving the transparency of reporting of grants expenditure will be fantastic, and could lead to the US government and people actually knowing how their money is spent.


Dear XBRL International Members:

Just a few hours ago, 12 amendments to H.R. 4173 (the “Dodd Bill” for financial regulatory reform) introduced by Rep. Darrell Issa of California were approved and added to federal legislation.  All 12 call for the use of data standards for a wide range of financial regulatory reporting.  The criteria for data standard is that drafted by XBRL US at the request of committee staff and used in previous bills HR 2392 and SB 303:

The data standards required by subparagraph (A) shall, to the extent practicable, –
(i) incorporate a widely accepted, non-proprietary, searchable, computer-readable data format;
(ii) be consistent with and implement—
(I) United States generally accepted accounting principles or Federal financial accounting standards (as appropriate);
(II) demonstrated best practices; and
(III) Federal regulatory requirements;
(iii) improve the transparency, consistency, and usability of business and financial information;
(iv) ensure interoperability and appropriate reuse of information;
(v) reuse, enhance, harmonize, and integrate existing standards as possible and appropriate; and
(vi) be capable of being continually upgraded to be of maximum use as technologies and content evolve over time.



I hope nobody but me remembers ADA, or ever watched "Yes Minister".

Passage of the bill will be a great step forward, but it is only the next step. Endorsement by OMB will be an even greater step, but it is only the next step along the road.

ADA was mandated for all programming in DoD (Department of Defence). Unfortunately companies writing programs to run on DoD computers had an option called a "waiver". Those companies spent untold time and money writing waivers, then getting on with writing the COBAL, PL/1, C etc programs that they were writing. After 10 years of mandatory use of ADA, the DoD quietly scraped the requirement.

The XBRL community can learn a lot from the ADA experience. Some basic lessons include:

None the less, this is a great accomplishment and congratulations to XBRL US Inc for helping get this through Congress.

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