Extensible Business Reporting Language (XBRL) Back in the News Again

Visiting the Securities and Exchange Commission's (SEC's) web site, I came across this 143-page PDF file, which deals with XBRL. As a gung-ho proponent of automation, I'm calling attention to it here to show that the head of the SEC (Mr. Christopher Cox) and I are on the same wavelength when it comes to promoting cost saving automations. Here is some interesting stuff from the PDF, together with my comments.

The Christopher Cox modernization commission proposes that companies provide their financial statements to the Commission and on their corporate Web sites in interactive data format using the eXtensible Business Reporting Language (XBRL). A statement on Page 29 of the PDF states that the decision about this request becoming compulsory was to have been decided on December 15th, 2008.

XBRL was derived from the XML standard. It was developed and continues to be supported by XBRL International, a collaborative consortium of approximately 550 organizations representing many elements of the financial reporting community worldwide in more than 20 jurisdictions, national and regional.

The proposal is a significant one for Mr. Cox as he is a proponent of modernization and the use of current technology to reduce business and government expenses. His legacy will be the promotion of "interactive data" and modernization of SEC filings through the use of XBRL.

Mr Cox has decided to retire at the end of President Bush’s term. During Mr. Cox's tenure, the regulator has convinced over 8,000 companies to use XBRL in various types of filings. Large international organizations such as Proctor and Gamble and Pepsi file with GAAP and IFRS, are using XBRL, and are on the very pro XBRL bandwagon.

About the only criticism I have about Mr. Cox’s plan is the timeline. CFOs balked at the aggressiveness of the schedule that SEC proposed. SEC wants them to aim for concrete results for 2010.

XBRL is the next big wave to the financial modules of ERP software packages. In subsequent blogs I will address this topic with gusto.
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