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SEC mandates open standard for financial records

SEC mandates open standard for financial records, By Gautham Nagesh, NextGov.com, (12/19/2008).

The Securities and Exchange Commission passed a rule on Thursday requiring public companies and mutual funds to use a standard electronic format to publish financial information, bringing more transparency, and presumably oversight, to corporate balance sheets and earnings.

SEC commissioners voted 4-1 to require companies to use extensible business reporting language, or XBRL, when filing financial disclosures. The commission also required them to publish information on the SEC’s Web site as well as their own.

XBRL is based on software programming called extensible mark-up language, or XML, which uses tags attached to documents so users can easily find and share electronic data….

“Sunlight has long been the best disinfectant to prevent problems in our market”

SEC Seeks More Transparent Disclosure For Investors, U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission, press release 2008-227, Sept. 25, 2008.

The Securities and Exchange Commission today announced that it will hold a roundtable on October 8 to discuss ways to modernize its disclosure system to give investors more useful and timely information for investment decision-making….

“Sunlight has long been the best disinfectant to prevent problems in our markets. The more direct sunlight we can shine on company disclosure documents to extract the information that investors most want and need to make financial decisions, the more honest our markets will be and the stronger investor confidence will be,” said Dr. William D. Lutz, Director of the 21st Century Disclosure Initiative.

Thanks and a tip of the hat to J.H. Snider who says, “The SEC’s disclosure technology may already be the best of any agency in the Federal government…. Nevertheless, given the recent financial meltdown, it looks like it may continue to break new ground.

SEC To Replace EDGAR With ‘IDEA’

SEC To Replace EDGAR With ‘IDEA’, by K.C. Jones, InformationWeek, Aug. 19, 2008.

The Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) intends to supplement its aging EDGAR system and eventually replace it with a new one called Interactive Data Electronic Applications (Idea). It hopes to make Internet searches about publicly held companies and mutual funds simpler and more comprehensive and make data easier to downloaded to spreadsheets, entered in databases, and compared.

The SEC said the move would allow it to transition from collecting forms and documents to making the information freely available to investors. The new system should also provide current information in a format that is easy to access, collate, sift through, and compile into new reports.

Most SEC filings have used the Edgar format, which has limited investors and others who want to examine information about public companies to viewing one form at a time.