Streamlining and Enhancing Government Data Collection in Brazil

Posted on June 9, 2015 by Dave Nitchman

As a matter of  course, governments for millennia have collected information about their citizens and their activities – including their businesses and economic activities. They kept the paper makers and warehouse builders busy. This system, by its very nature, was inefficient and did not facilitate transparency (information on paper can be devilishly difficult and expensive to share). Then, beginning early last decade, we saw governments beginning to  shed the “paper paradigm” and move towards e-reporting leveraging XBRL. This data – structured data – was much easier to collect, store and share. As we have moved into this decade, more and more governments are embracing the XBRL standard for managing their own finances, in those situations in which government is reporting to government. Combining structured data with the idea of open data – of making government information available to the public in a usable form, is a powerful new form of transparency.

One of the latest, Brazil, began movement towards  accounting consolidation and transparency in 2000, with the enactment of the Fiscal Responsibility Law (LRF in Portuguese), which established rules for balanced fiscal policies and assets management, as well as transparency in public accounting. The LRF also introduced, for the first time, mandatory Government accounting consolidation, not only for the Federal Government, but also at the state and local government level. Brazil’s National Treasury Secretariat (STN) is responsible for government accounting consolidation at all levels and for implementing the LRF. About ten years in, the National Treasury was faced with a number of challenges, including an outmoded data collection platform and difficulty in reconciling multiple data sets covering federal, state and local governments.

To meet these challenges the STN launched the SICONFI technology platform  – using XBRL GL – in November 2012, and the first reports were received through the SICONFI web forms portal on April 2, 2014. Project SICONFI collects data for an annual report known as the National Public Sector Balance (BSPN), a set of financial and budgetary statements that show the economic condition of the Brazilian Federation as a whole, as well as that of Federal, State and Local Governments. This data is also used for a set of tables known as Finances of Brazil (FINBRA), which contains accounting and budgetary information for each entity in the Federation in a unified format. The Treasure utilizes XBRL for efficient collection and to improve data quality.

The XII Best Practices Board (BPB) has worked with the STN and their implementation team to prepare a case study that explains in-depth their experience. It’s very instructive to anyone looking to streamline and enhance their own data collection. You can read the case study here. We welcome your feedback and submission of other case studies. Contact the Best Practices Board.

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