The Securities and Exchange Commission has already mandated that the nation's 500 largest public companies file their financials using eXtensible Business Reporting Languge beginning this year. Remaining SEC filers are expected to be using XBRL by 2011. But there's a bill in the pipeline that would require all federal agencies that collect financial information to do so using XBRL. In effect, the XML-based format would become the standard for federal government filings.
CFO.com reported last week that Rep. Darrell Issa (R-Calif.) introduced the bill shortly after an earlier proposal from Rep. Carolyn Maloney (D-N.Y.) suggested using a "standard electronic database" to track the use of Troubled Asset Relief Program funds. Maloney's measures, however, did not specify the technology to be used. Issa explained:
The technology exists to create real transparency to allow us to track TARP dollars and value toxic assets, but the Federal government is far behind the curve in implementing available solutions.
EDGAR Online CEO Philip Moyer says the measure, if approved, will be a great thing for corporations because it will drive down corporate costs by decreasing the number of reporting requirements and also force regulators to be more consistent in their reporting requirements. Moyer told CFO.com, "You know who doesn't want this? The organizations that thrive on lack of transparency, because they have information that others do not."