So the SEC buys access to EDGAROnline's database. My initial reaction was "What, the SEC is buying their own data from a vendor". I talked this through with someone, whose take was completely different. He pointed out that EOL has already tagged over 10 years of all public company data in the US, both annual and quarterly data. He also pointed out that multi-year analytics will require multi-year data streams. Finally - because I was being a bit thick, he gently reminded me that the current stream of XBRL data is only one year old, maybe two to the largest filers. Multi-year analysis, and with that the ability to gain the data analysis advantages that XBRL delivers, is simply not possible without years of data.
Who has that data? EOL.
It seems a very smart move on the part of the SEC. Coupled with the i-Metrix tools, they will be able to download that data in a format that is well understood by almost all analysts: Excel.
The difficulty may come in mapping from the historical tagging that was performed by EOL to the actual tagging performed by the reporting company. But I expect that will be a much "easier" problem to solve than attempting to perform the historical tagging for themselves.
Frankly, it sounds like a great investment by the SEC.
(Disclosure: I am completely independent of EOL)