US SEC uses XBRL to move towards
more accessible reporting

Data tags for the entire system of
US GAAP have been developed by the US Securities and Exchange
Commission (SEC). The computer-coded tags, written in eXtensible
Business Reporting Language (XBRL), are designed to make it
possible for stakeholders to download SEC-filed financial reports
into spreadsheets in Excel and other popular software.

The tags, which each correspond to a unique accounting concept,
allow other web tools and specialty software to make instant
financial comparisons across entire industries. The SEC said the
newly completed project is part of its commitment to migrate its
vast database of financial information to interactive data

For more than two years, the US regulator has conducted a pilot
programme whereby it permitted public companies to file their
financial reports with the agency in interactive data format. The
SEC said that the market capitalisation of companies participating
in the voluntary programme has recently topped $2 trillion.

The collection of data tags being used for current filings on the
SEC’s financial database system is relatively simplistic, employing
approximately 2,500 unique elements, the regulator said. It added
that this has required many companies to write their own custom
tags, called extensions.

The SEC said the new data tags bring automated financial reporting
to the regulator – as well as increased usability of financial
statement for investors – closer to reality.

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SEC chairman Christopher Cox said the revamp is “a great step
toward making SEC reporting easier for registrants and easier to
understand for every investor”. “I commend the remarkable efforts
of the XBRL US project team for their leadership in the private
sector in perfecting this globally accepted technological means for
exchanging financial data, and also the Financial Accounting
Foundation and the Financial Accounting Standards Board for the
expertise in US GAAP that they contributed to this project,” he