XBRL is back. Transparency won’t be denied.

XBRL might just leave its mark on the federal government after all.

After a stop-and-go spring that saw it pass the House and stall in the Senate, the Digital Accountability and Transparency (or DATA) Act has been reintroduced in the Senate in an effort to let all Americans see and understand how the federal government is spending its money.

"The DATA Act requires the development of government-wide financial data standards to make it easier to compare federal spending across federal agencies," spokespersons for the bills sponsors, U.S. Sens. Mark Warner (D-VA) and Rob Portman (R-OH), wrote. "It also requires that the standardized data be analyzed to prevent waste, fraud, abuse and improper payments."

And while the bill doesn't mention XBRL specifically, "it does reference the use of 'common data elements developed and maintained by accounting standards organizations,'" writes Michelle Savage, vice president of communication for XBRL US.

You'll be hearing a lot about XBRL here in the days and weeks to come. Tom Hood, Skip Falatko and I attended the 2012 XBRL US Conference in Austin and came back with lots of great stories that illustrate how important XBRL is becoming.

Now, the federal government is validating those stories by acknowledging the importance of transparent, easy-to-understand financial data.

We'll keep you posted on the DATA Act's progress through Congress. Meanwhile, check out this video from the Data Transparency Coalition. (The MACPA is a founding member of the DTC.) If you want to know why the MACPA supports this legislation, look no further than this terrific summary:

Want to learn more?
Check out "XBRL and the New Era in Financial Reporting: Moving Beyond Theory." If you have 10 or more employees, this Business Learning Institute program can be brought directly to. Get complete details here.

And be sure to read "Digging into the Senate's new DATA Act: Same name, different content, same goals," a comprehensive summary from Hudson Hollister on the Data Transparency Coalition's blog.


Bill Sheridan