Washington, D.C. — Twenty-eight Members of the House of Representatives, led by Rep. Darrell Issa (R-CA), have reintroduced the Financial Transparency Act (H.R. 1530). If enacted, the Financial Transparency Act would be the nation’s first RegTech law. This morning the lead sponsors of the Financial Transparency Act, Reps. Darrell Issa, Carolyn Maloney, and Randy Hultgren took the stage at the Data Coalition’s third annual Financial Data Summit to make their case.
The bill would modernize the U.S. financial regulatory reporting process from unstructured documents into fully searchable, standardized, and machine-readable data. The bipartisan proposal directs the eight major U.S. financial regulatory agencies to adopt consistent data fields and formats for the information that they already collect from the private sector under existing securities, commodities, and banking laws.
“Passing the Financial Transparency Act would be a milestone for data transparency and the openness of public information,” said Congressman Darrell Issa (R-CA). “What my previous legislation, the DATA Act, is doing to open up government spending through online, searchable and freely accessible data, the Financial Transparency Act would do for financial reporting information. Financial reporting often relies on cumbersome – and duplicative – paper or PDF reports that make it difficult for regulators and the public to track down the information they need. By updating the process to an open data standard for the information already reported to the nation’s eight financial regulatory agencies, we’ll be able to reduce regulatory burdens on businesses, give the public and investors better access to information, and boost our ability to find, and prevent, instances of fraud.”
“The U.S. financial regulatory system is outdated, duplicative and inefficient,” said Hudson Hollister, Executive Director of the Data Coalition. “The Financial Transparency Act will use technology to modernize it. Under this bill, regulators will eliminate document-based financial filings and adopt open, structured data formats for all filings. When government information is reported and published as data instead of documents – industry, government and investors all win.”
What the Financial Transparency Act does:
About the Data Coalition:
The Data Coalition advocates on behalf of the private sector and the public interest for the publication of government information as standardized, open data. Open data enhances accountability, improves government management, reduces compliance costs, and stimulates innovation. Our members represent a cross-section of the technology industry and implementers, including market leaders such as Workiva, Donnelley Financial Solutions, Booz Allen Hamilton, PwC, and CGI Federal and growing start-ups such as idaciti and cBEYONData. Collectively, they employ over two hundred thousand Americans and have a combined market capitalization exceeding $1.5 trillion. For more information, visit datacoalition.org.
Mandatory Inline XBRL Proposal Would Mean Better Transparency, Better Oversight
Washington, D.C. — Today the Securities and Exchange Commission’s two sitting commissioners, Michael Piwowar and Kara Stein, unanimously voted to propose rule changes to require public companies to file their financial statements using the Inline XBRL (Extensible Business Reporting Language) open data format.
Since 2009, the SEC has been requiring public companies to file two versions of every financial statement – once as a plain-text document, and again as machine-readable data. Inline XBRL would create just one version, both human-readable and machine-readable. The SEC began permitting public companies to optionally use Inline XBRL last June.
The next step is for the SEC to collect public comments on the proposed changes. The commissioners then must vote again to decide whether to finalize them.
“FinTech, RegTech, and other tech tools consume large amounts of data… [but] our document driven, text based disclosure system is out of date”, said Commissioner Stein at this morning’s meeting.
“By finally eliminating this duplicative document-plus-data reporting requirement, the SEC can send a strong message that open data is the preferred and official means of corporate disclosure,” said Hudson Hollister, Executive Director of the Data Coalition. “With just one version, instead of two, data quality will improve – which means investors and markets can have more confidence in this crucial public data set, and the agency will be able to deploy oversight analytics more effectively.”
The Data Coalition is a longtime supporter of modernizing financial regulation. Last July, the Coalition filed a comment letter describing the need for the SEC to replace all of its corporate disclosure forms – beyond the financial statements that were the subject of today’s vote – with open data.
The Coalition’s third annual Financial Data Summit, scheduled for Thursday, March 16, in Washington, D.C., will bring together the SEC and other financial regulatory agencies to chart a course for modernizing all financial regulatory reporting.
The SEC’s media release is available here.
Read Chairman Michael Piwowar’s full statement here.
Read Commissioner Kara Stein’s full statement here.
Washington, D.C. – Early this morning the Senate approved by unanimous consent the Open, Public, Electronic and Necessary (OPEN) Government Data Act (S.2852), sending a strong signal to the incoming 115th Congress that the bill can quickly be passed by both chambers upon re-introduction in January. The OPEN Government Data Act would require all federal agencies to publish their information online, using nonproprietary, machine-readable data formats.
The Senate’s action this morning helps further the goal of making open data the default for federal information. “For open data to truly take hold, Congress needs to institutionalize the existing executive policy on its own terms and take ownership of a government-wide transformation,” said Hudson Hollister, Executive Director of the Data Coalition.
The bill codifies and expands upon the outgoing Administration’s 2013 Open Data policy (“Open Data Policy-Managing Information as an Asset”, M-13-13), which has been integrated into agency policy for the past three years. Earlier this week the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) scored S.2852 and concluded there would be no significant budgetary impact (see the CBO statement here).
In summary, the OPEN Government Data Act would:
For more information on the legislation you can see the Data Coalition’s summary page here.
In May 2016, forty-eight trade associations, tech companies, and civic organizations issued a letter supporting the legislation. Signatories included Socrata, Esri, OpenDataSoft, EMC Corp, CA Technologies, Amazon Web Services, the Chamber of Commerce C_TEC, the Consumer Technology Association, CompTIA, Center for Data Innovation, R Street Institute, SPARC, the Sunlight Foundation, Niskanen Center, and the Project on Government Oversight. The Data Coalition will continue working with these organizations to encourage the 115th Congress to pass the bill.
“The passage of the OPEN Government Data Act marks another milestone in the open data movement,” said Hollister, “This bill builds on open data reforms such as the DATA Act. Our Coalition and the emerging open data industry thank Senators Sasse and Schatz for their leadership.”
About the Data Coalition: The Data Coalition advocates on behalf of the private sector and the public interest for the publication of government information as standardized, open data. Open data enhances accountability, improves government management, reduces compliance costs, and stimulates innovation. Representing a cross-section of the technology industry and implementers, the Coalition’s membership includes market leaders such as Workiva, Donnelley Financial Solutions, Booz Allen Hamilton, and CGI Federal and growing start-ups such as idaciti and cBEYONData. For more information, visit datacoalition.org.
Washington, D.C. — The House Oversight and Government Reform Subcommittee on Government Operations held a hearing this morning to explore the status of implementing the 2014 Digital Accountability and Transparency Act (DATA Act) (PL 113-101). The hearing, titled “DATA Act Implementation Check-in”, was the second this year in which the subcommittee called upon the leadership of the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) and the Treasury Department’s Fiscal Service to explain how federal agencies are progressing to comply with the DATA Act’s May 2017 deadline to report their spending information as open data.
Subcommittee Chairman Mark Meadows (NC-11) opened the hearing stating that while agencies are ultimately responsible for their own data reporting, his committee is dedicated to conducting oversight and exploring what needs to be tweaked to assure success. The Chairman recognized the Data Coalition's efforts to bring these issues to the Subcommittee’s attention.
OMB Controller Dave Mader defended his office’s decision to primarily focus on the 24 CFO Act agencies, which account for more than 90% of federal funding. Mader did say that OMB has records of 83 federal agencies which have self-determined they are legally obligated to report under the law. In April’s hearing, the Committee requested that OMB provide a comprehensive list of covered agencies. The Government Accountability Office’s (GAO) July report on agency readiness was critical of OMB’s failure to explicitly identify those agencies covered by the law.
In his opening remarks, subcommittee Ranking Member Gerry Connolly (VA-11) expressed his excitement at anticipating “one consolidated electronic data set” and called for the “next Congress to make implementation of the DATA Act a priority.” GAO’s Paula Rascano, Director of Financial Management and Assurance, warned that an Administration transition is a threat while stating how the DATA Act highlights the real need and possibility for achieving a “robust data governance structure, to provide consistent data management during a change in transition.”
To help with this transition, Meadows called for the OMB and Treasury witnesses to provide the Committee with a full listing of all agency contacts responsible for implementing the law. Meadows also asked for GAO to work with OMB to identify any lingering implementation hurdles.
Also of concern to the Committee was a recently published Washington Post article covering a leaked independent report finding $125 billion in bureaucratic waste at the Department of Defense. The Vice Chair of the Subcommittee, Congressman Walberg (MI-07) directed his line of questioning to Roscana. “[H]ow might full implementation of the DATA Act improve our ability to identify that kind of savings at DoD?” probed Congressman Walberg (MI-07).
“The DATA Act will not only provide more transparency to where the funds are being spent but hopefully also … provide a vehicle for DoD management and other agencies to manage their funds and manage their programs,” Ms. Rascona responded.
On whether DoD will comply with the DATA Act, David Mader, Controller of the Office of Management and Budget, added, “They [DoD] are cooperating… They are not sitting back and saying we’re exempt, they are working on it.”
It was Rep. Jim Jordan’s (OH-4) questioning of the witnesses seeking clarification around the government’s collection of data on agency fines, fees, and settlement collections that highlights the need to continue the work started by the DATA Act, and expand this data driven oversight into additional realms of federal activity.
Hudson Hollister, Executive Director of the Data Coalition, testified before the same subcommittee last week: “This Committee began this work by passing the DATA Act. By holding the executive branch accountable to follow the law, and by expanding the law where necessary, this Committee can finish it.”
About the Data Coalition: The Data Coalition advocates on behalf of the private sector and the public interest for the publication of government information as standardized, open data. Open data enhances accountability, improves government management, reduces compliance costs, and stimulates innovation. Representing a cross-section of the technology industry and implementers, the Coalition’s membership includes market leaders such as Workiva, Donnelley Financial Solutions, Booz Allen Hamilton, and CGI Federal and growing start-ups such as idaciti and CBeyonData. For more information, visit datacoalition.org.
Washington, DC — The Data Coalition and seven other financial and technology organizations today sent a letter to the Financial Services Committee of the U.S. House of Representatives requesting that the committee convene a hearing on the need for regulatory agencies to modernize the way they collect information from public companies, banks, markets, and financial firms.
Together, the signatories represent over two thousand technology and Fintech companies.
U.S. financial regulators use a wide range of incompatible data formats to collect information from regulated entities. The lack of data standards imposes unnecessary compliance costs, impedes markets’ ability to absorb information, and hinders regulators’ use of analytical tools.
Even where regulators have started to adopt open, standardized data formats, their progress has been uneven. For example, the Securities and Exchange Commission collects corporate financial statements using the XBRL open data format, but requires companies to file most of the rest of their information as unstructured, non-searchable text. “Small public reporting companies are frustrated with the burden, expense and regulatory risk of providing SEC disclosure in two formats. To make XBRL useful, the SEC must move forward with more cost effective solutions that streamline the reporting process, improve data quality and make being public less painful,” said Cromwell Coulson, Chief Executive Officer and President of OTC Markets Group, a provider of public trading markets for thousands of SEC reporting companies.
Today’s letter commends members of the Financial Services Committee for introducing and cosponsoring bills aimed at modernizing financial reporting. But the committee has yet to fully explore the issue through expert testimony.
“By replacing disconnected documents and disparate databases with open data, regulators can make reporting cheaper and more transparent without amending its substance,” said Hudson Hollister, Executive Director of the Data Coalition. “For example, because Australian regulators adopted a single data dictionary for all the information they collect, as part of the Standard Business Reporting program, Australian companies are saving over $1 billion annually in compliance costs, even before the system is mandatory. U.S. regulators should do the same, and the 115th Congress can lead the way.”
“The financial technology industry is ready to reduce compliance costs through automation, deliver actionable information to markets, and provide powerful analytical services to the regulators, but these innovations will only become possible if the regulators embrace standardized data formats for the information they collect,” said David Logsdon, Senior Director of Public Advocacy at CompTIA. “We welcome the Financial Services Committee’s leadership on modernizing financial regulatory reporting and we look forward to breakthroughs in coming legislative sessions.”
Center for Data Innovation
Information Technology & Innovation Foundation
LexisNexis Risk Solutions
Software & Information Industry Association
The letter is available here.
About the Data Coalition
The Data Coalition advocates on behalf of the private sector and the public interest for the publication of government information as standardized, open data. Open data enhances accountability, improves government management, reduces compliance costs, and stimulates innovation. Representing a cross-section of the technology industry and implementers, the Coalition’s membership includes market leaders such as Workiva, Donnelley Financial Solutions, Booz Allen Hamilton, and CGI Federal and growing start-ups such as idaciti and cBEYONData. For more information, visit datacoalition.org.
New York, NY — Today Rick Fleming, Investor Advocate of the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), addressed XBRL-US’s Investor Forum 2016 in New York. Fleming outlined how the SEC’s outdated “disclosure delivery methods have not kept pace with changes in technology.” Fleming said his agency should replace document-based corporate disclosures with standardized, open data, as the Data Coalition has long advocated.
The SEC has made some efforts to modernize the way it collects corporate financial filings. In June the SEC began allowing public companies to file their financial statements in the inline XBRL (eXtensible Business Reporting Language) open data format. XBRL tagging has allowed the Division of Enforcement to “detect anomalous patterns in financial statements’, said Fleming. This is good for regulatory oversight, good for market stability and good for investors.
Fleming outlined three wish list items to further modernize the SEC’s corporate disclosures:
Fleming also noted how modernizing the financial disclosure filing process “enables automation of financial analyses… making it easier to analyze a far greater number of companies, including smaller companies.” Searchable data would benefit both investors seeking new opportunities and small companies seeking capital investment.
“We’re pleased to hear yet another notable voice within the SEC calling for the adoption of the LEI, a globally accepted non-proprietary identification code, and expanding data-tagging across the entirety of corporate disclosures,” said Hudson Hollister, Executive Director of the Data Coalition. “The Coalition is currently advocating in Congress for the Financial Transparency Act (FTA) (H.R. 2477). The bipartisan proposal has 35 cosponsors, including good government champions Reps. Darrell Issa (CA-49-R) and Mike Quigley (IL-5-D), and Financial Services Committee Members Reps. Randy Hultgren (IL-14-R) and Carolyn Maloney (NY-12-D). If passed by Congress and signed into law, the FTA will advance the time frame for adopting these reforms by requiring the agency to move to inline XBRL faster and adopt the LEI across all reporting requirements.”
Read Rick Fleming’s full speech here.
The Data Coalition advocates on behalf of the private sector and the public interest for the publication of government information as standardized, open data. Open data enhances accountability, improves government management, reduces compliance costs, and stimulates innovation. Representing a cross-section of the technology industry and implementers, the Coalition’s membership includes market leaders such as Workiva, RR Donnelley, Booz Allen Hamilton, and CGI Federal and growing start-ups such as idaciti and CBeyonData. For more information, visit datacoalition.org.
Presumptive Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton also supports replacing document-based regulatory reporting with structured data
Washington, DC– Today, presumptive Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton unveiled her campaign’s Technology and Innovation Agenda. The Agenda includes a commitment to open up more government data for public uses. The Data Coalition welcomed Secretary Clinton’s strong support for fully implementing the DATA Act of 2014 and replacing document-based regulatory reporting with structured data.
“President Obama’s White House has not always supported the DATA Act, so we are excited to see Secretary Clinton’s explicit commitment to get the job done if she succeeds him,” said Hudson Hollister, executive director of the Data Coalition. “Under the law’s deadlines, the next president will be responsible for making sure that every agency begins reporting spending as structured data – and that Treasury and OMB publish that data set in full.”
The Technology and Innovation Agenda also promises that a President Hillary Clinton would “bring an open data approach to regulation – making it easier for businesses to submit structured data instead of documents, and bringing greater transparency to financial and other markets,” closely matching the goals of the proposed Financial Transparency Act (HR 2477), which the Data Coalition has championed in Congress.
“We certainly hope that every presidential candidate will commit to open data – in spending, by implementing the DATA Act of 2014; in regulation, by replacing document-based reports with structured data; and throughout our legal system, by adopting a standardized structure for laws and mandates,” said Hollister.
Presidential candidates Donald Trump (Republican), Gary Johnson (Libertarian), and Jill Stein (Green) have not yet offered specific positions on open data.
Washington, DC — Today the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) announced that it is allowing public companies to file their financial statements in the inline XBRL (eXtensible Business Reporting Language) open data format, effective immediately.
“The Data Coalition has been calling for this change for many years – most recently in our November 2015 comment letter on the SEC’s disclosure effectiveness initiative,” said Executive Director Hudson Hollister. “The SEC finally has a road map to move from today’s awkward half-modernized system to a reporting regime that runs on open data.”
The SEC first began requiring public companies to file open data financial statements in 2009, but it never stopped requiring the old-fashioned document version as well. As a result, public companies must submit the same information twice – once as a document, then again as open data. Duplicative filings distract agency staff, hinder broader modernization, and create unnecessary costs. But now, inline XBRL will allow companies to file once, instead of twice.
Today's SEC order does not require public companies to move from duplicative filings to a single inline XBRL filing, but only permits it. The order expires in 2020. The Financial Transparency Act, if passed by Congress and signed by the President, will advance this time frame by requiring the agency to move to inline XBRL faster, and make it permanent.
“We have just one criticism of today’s announcement,” said Hollister. “The SEC issued its legal order without first publishing the inline XBRL data structure for review by public companies and the software firms serving them. Instead, the agency issued the order and published the structure at the same time. We hope that in the future, the SEC follows the practices of agencies like the Treasury Department in its DATA Act Implementation, and publishes proposed data formats in advance, before the legal directives for their use are issued.”
Washington, DC– Today, the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee unanimously approved S. 2852, the Open, Public, Electronic and Necessary (OPEN) Government Data Act. The sweeping open data proposal will set a presumption that all public federal information should be expressed in searchable formats and freely available for everyone to use.
The Data Coalition, the nation’s only open data trade association, celebrated the committee’s unanimous vote. “The OPEN Government Data Act will create new opportunities to bring transparency to the public outside government, enable data-driven decision-making inside government, and automate reporting to government,” said Executive Director Hudson Hollister. “New technologies can deliver these benefits – but only when government information is made machine-readable and freely useable.”
Section 5 of the OPEN Government Data Act, introduced last month by Sens. Brian Schatz (D-HI) and Ben Sasse (R-NE), provides that government data shall “be published as machine-readable data … in an open format, and …. under open licenses.”
“Too often, the government uses proprietary data formats to publish information, and requires users to purchase licenses,” said Hollister. “For example, the use of the proprietary DUNS Number to identify federal grantees and contractors means that public spending information is not open to taxpayers to freely download and use. Under Section 5, the government will have to address monopolies like the DUNS Number and allow the public to freely use public information.”
Section 5 will also address the SEC’s continued use of document-based corporate disclosures instead of open data, the IRS’ reluctance to move to open data nonprofit tax returns, and many other areas where the transformation to open data lags behind available technology.
The Senate committee adopted an Amendment that made slight changes to the OPEN Government Data Act. The proposal can now be considered by the full Senate. Reps. Derek Kilmer (D-WA) and Blake Farenthold (R-TX) introduced a nearly identical bill in the House of Representatives.
Under DATA Act of 2014, New Format will Deliver Transparency, Enable Analytics, and Automate Compliance
Washington, D.C. — Today the Data Coalition, the nation’s only open data trade association, celebrated the U.S. Treasury Department’s public release of the completed DATA Act Schema, Version 1.0.
Under the DATA Act of 2014, Treasury and the White House Office of Management and Budget must establish government-wide standardized data elements for federal spending – and also set up a government-wide format, or schema, that dictates how the data elements relate to one another. Treasury and OMB published fifty-seven data elements last year, and also completed a preliminary version of the schema. Last Friday, Treasury released the final schema on its Federal Spending Transparency GitHub portal.
“Friday’s announcement completes a journey that began in 2010,” said Hudson Hollister, executive director of the Data Coalition. “That’s when Rep. Darrell Issa and his staff started working on the first version of the DATA Act. From the very beginning, we wanted to mandate a government-wide format to transform federal spending from disconnected documents and siloed systems into standardized, open data.”
Friday’s announcement also included specific instructions to agencies on how to create and upload standardized data files that conform to the 57 DATA Act elements and the DATA Act Schema. All federal agencies must begin reporting their spending information using these standards by May 2017.
At a House Oversight subcommittee hearing last month, Treasury and OMB promised to keep Congress updated on agencies’ progress toward the deadline.
Together with the Association of Government Accountants, the Data Coalition will host its third annual public DATA Act Summit on May 26. The DATA Act Summit will feature agency financial and oversight leaders who are working to implement the new data standards – and build new analytics tools on them to improve management.
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