Time to Educate Policy Makers

Posted on September 18, 2014 by Dave Nitchman

Backlash is growing against HR5405, omnibus legislation in the US Congress. The law gives new life to previously derailed efforts to exempt public companies with less than USD $250M in gross revenue from reporting in XBRL. Labelled a “purely political” effort by DTC Executive Director Hudson Hollister, and described as a “wake up call for transparency and XBRL advocates” by XBRL International CEO John Turner, the legislation is very unlikely to go further in this session of the US Congress.

Says Turner, “While we don’t expect this legislation to be considered by the Senate, we need to be alive to the possibility that it will return after the US mid term elections and act to educate accordingly. Reducing transparency and access to sources of funds for smaller listed companies is obviously a retrograde step. We are in the 21st century and no longer rely on paper. We rely on structured data.”

“With open, structured reporting increasingly available throughout the world, passage of this legislation, inappropriately labelled “uncontroversial” by its sponsors was opposed by 102 members of the US Congress following a rapid letter writing campaign by the DTC and XBRL US. More education is needed for policy makers, and now would be an ideal time for the US SEC to make it clear how important the interactive data mandate is in its renewed efforts to ensure markets, retail investors and regulators are kept informed via open structured data” said Turner.

Read the Bill (Sec. 701). Read a blog post from the Data Transparency Coalition on the implications. The Maryland Association of CPAs, a non-profit which has successfully (and cost effectively) implemented XBRL for their own reporting, weighed in, as did the transparency advocating Sunlight Foundation. We’ll have more on this issue in the coming weeks.

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