Proposal Threatens to Deprive Investors and Markets of Searchable Corporate Financial Data
WASHINGTON, DC — A group of tech sector firms issued a letter today calling on the House Financial Services Committee to direct the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) to fully enforce the quality of the financial disclosure data it collects, rather than eliminate open data reporting for most public companies. The joint letter follows the Committee’s March 14 approval of H.R. 4164, which would exempt companies under $250 million in annual revenue from existing requirements to file financial statements as machine-readable open data.
“H.R. 4164 is based on a flawed diagnosis that blames open data tools for the symptoms of poor data quality,” said Hudson Hollister, the Executive Director of the Data Transparency Coalition. “Instead of decimating this critical data set, Congress should direct the SEC to stop accepting inaccurate submissions, so the data set becomes useful. Once the data set can be analyzed without costly corrections, analysts will be able to expand their coverage, and smaller public companies will get more attention. Our capital markets want quality data — not less of it.”
Under H.R 4164, the SEC would stop requiring financial reports formatted in the eXtensible Business Reporting Language (XBRL) from companies under $250 million in annual revenue, regressing to a document-based system. The exemption would remove about 60% of publicly traded companies from existing open data reporting requirements.
Today’s letter asks the House Financial Services Committee to modify the proposal to direct the SEC to enforce data quality. If the SEC delivered more reliable data, companies would be able to benefit from expanded and more cost-effective coverage.
Landmark Open Data Legislation to Overhaul Federal Spending Transparency
WASHINGTON, DC — The United States Senate approved an amended version of the Digital Accountability and Transparency Act (S. 994) today by unanimous consent. Advocates expect the landmark open data legislation, known as the DATA Act, to earn swift approval in the U.S. House of Representatives, where an earlier iteration of the bill passed by a 388-1 vote in November 2013. The DATA Act would mandate the publication of all federal spending disclosures as standardized open data. In many cases, that information is currently locked behind inaccessible document-based formats.
“The DATA Act takes a structured data model that has delivered unprecedented accountability in stimulus expenditures and applies it across all domains of federal spending,” said Hudson Hollister, who drafted the initial version of the DATA Act in 2009 and now champions the bill as the Executive Director of the Data Transparency Coalition. “We’re excited to welcome this bipartisan — and now, bicameral — endorsement for delivering reliable, accessible data about how taxpayers’ dollars are being spent. The DATA Act will turn federal spending information into open spending data – a valuable new public resource that strengthens democratic accountability and spurs innovation.”
The Senate’s final version of the DATA Act places the White House Office of Management and Budget alongside the U.S. Treasury Department in joint control of the development of government-wide data standards, a change opposed by the Data Transparency Coalition. However, the final bill retains the Coalition’s key goals: strong and comprehensive mandates to standardize and publish the executive branch’s whole portfolio of spending information. The final bill also invites the Treasury Department to set up an accountability platform modeled on the innovations of the Recovery Accountability and Transparency Board. President Barack Obama is expected to sign the DATA Act, because it provides a legislative mandate for many elements of his May 2013 Open Data Policy.
“The DATA Act is part of the growing trend by governments to embrace structured, machine-readable data formats in place of documents for regulatory reporting,” said Matthew Rizai, CEO and Managing Director of WebFilings, which became an Executive Member of the Data Transparency Coalition in 2013. “The move to reporting data instead of filing documents has made it possible to achieve efficiencies by automating compliance reporting.”
“The establishment of government-wide data standards for spending will allow federal agencies to deploy analytics to identify and eliminate waste and fraud,” said Bob Fair, Executive Vice President of Teradata, which became the Coalition’s founding member in February 2012. “The DATA Act’s mandate will speed a long-overdue transformation from disconnected documents into open, useful data – a transformation that will help the federal government better serve taxpayers. And we know this based on our experience helping large organizations across industries, including state and federal agencies, transform their organizations to improve efficiencies.”
The DATA Act’s main Senate sponsors, Mark Warner (D-VA) and Rob Portman (R-OH), will join with the bill’s most outspoken champion in the House, Rep. Darrell Issa (R-CA), along with key executive branch officials at the Coalition’s Data Transparency Summit on April 29 in Washington, DC. Tech sector innovators and open data advocates will work with these legislators, officials and other key figures to build a shared vision for the bill’s implementation. The Summit is presented by PwC. The Information Technology Industry Council, represented by President and CEO Dean Garfield, will co-host as a Special Policy Partner.
Senators Mark Warner (D-VA) and Rob Portman (R-OH) will join with Representative Darrell Issa (R-CA) and key executive branch leaders to present a vision for delivering transparency in federal spending data at the first-ever "Data Transparency Summit" on Tuesday, April 29, 2014 at Union Market in Washington, DC.
“The Data Transparency Summit will chart a course of action for transparency in federal spending disclosures through collaboration between legislative leaders, executive branch officials and innovators who are already delivering results,” said Hudson Hollister, Executive Director of the Data Transparency Coalition, in announcing the summit.
Hosted by the Data Transparency Coalition and presented by PwC, the summit is announced as the U.S. Senate is poised to consider the Digital Accountability and Transparency Act (DATA Act), sponsored by Senators Warner and Portman. The DATA Act, which passed the House of Representatives in a 388-1 vote in November 2013, would standardize and publish the federal government’s spending data.
The summit will bring together key DATA Act sponsors from the legislative branch with Obama administration officials who are working to transform federal spending reports from disconnected documents into structured open data. Three specialized tracks focusing on accountability, management, and compliance will seek common ground on how to effectively implement mandates for data transparency, including the DATA Act and President Obama’s Open Data Policy.
Confirmed participants include:
Rep. Darrell Issa (R-CA)
Sen. Mark Warner (D-VA)
Sen. Rob Portman (R-OH)
Dick Ginman, Chair, Government Accountability and Transparency Board
Christina Ho, Deputy Commissioner, Fiscal Service, U.S. Treasury Department
David Williams, Inspector General, U.S. Postal Service
Additional support for the Data Transparency Summit includes track sponsors WebFilings and StreamLink Software, lunch host Socrata, and media partner Federal News Radio.
Lawmakers Seek Committee Approval to Roll Back XBRL Open Data at SEC
WASHINGTON, DC – The Data Transparency Coalition submitted a formal comment yesterday on the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission’s (SEC) draft strategic plan, urging the agency to adopt a comprehensive data strategy that would complete its stalled transformation from disconnected documents to structured, open data in financial disclosures.
The Coalition’s comment on the SEC’s plan was submitted as Representatives Robert Hurt (R-VA) and Terri Sewell (D-AL) announced new legislation, known as the Small Company Disclosure Simplification Act (H.R. 4164), which would exempt publicly-traded companies with revenues under $250 million – over sixty percent of the U.S. public capital market – from existing requirements to file financial statements with the SEC in the eXtensible Business Reporting Language (XBRL) structured data format.
“By allowing companies to avoid reporting financial results in the SEC’s standardized language, companies will be left out of the computerized screens that investors like my company use to search for new investments,” said Alfred Berkeley, former president of the NASDAQ stock market, in reaction to news of the bill’s introduction. “Being left out of search mechanisms is akin to being left out of a search engine on the web: you will not be discovered by many investors. As a result, costs of capital will increase, not decrease. The bill is fraught with unintended consequences.”
The House Committee on Financial Services will consider H.R. 4161 on Thursday, March 13.
“Investors, regulators and citizens deserve access to clear, reliable data from public corporate filings,” said Hudson Hollister, Executive Director of the Data Transparency Coalition. “By exempting over 60% of U.S. publicly traded companies from the requirement to file financial statements as structured data, this bill turns back the clock to a document-based system where bad data likes to hide. Congress should instead direct the SEC to improve data quality to make structured data filings more useful to analysts and investors.”
These issues will be discussed at the Coalition’s Data Transparency Breakfast on Tuesday, March 18, at the 1776 tech incubator in Washington, DC. SEC Commissioner Michael Piwowar will join Commissioner Scott O’Malia of the Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC) and a panel of data leaders from the SEC, the CFTC, the U.S. Treasury Department, and the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA).
WASHINGTON, DC and SEATTLE — Seattle-based software developer Socrata announced today that it is joining the Data Transparency Coalition. Socrata’s membership will provide critical support to the Coalition’s goals to standardize and publish the U.S. government’s data.
“The Data Transparency Coalition is proud to welcome the support of Socrata,” said Hudson Hollister, the Coalition’s Executive Director. “Socrata’s tenacious pursuit of data-driven solutions that democratize access to government information and enhance public sector management is already manifesting our shared vision for what open data can deliver.”
Today’s announcement comes as members of the U.S. Senate prepare to bring the Digital Accountability and Transparency Act (DATA Act) to a floor vote. The DATA Act, which is the Coalition’s key legislative priority, passed the U.S. House of Representatives 388-1 in November 2013.
“Socrata is excited to join the Data Transparency Coalition in putting the promise of open data into action,” said Kevin Merritt, Socrata’s Founder and CEO. “We’re also looking forward to the enactment of the DATA Act as part of a comprehensive open data agenda that will accelerate the transformation of government’s relationship to business and society.”
Socrata is a recognized thought leader in open data. Earlier this month, the company published the latest volume of its Open Innovation magazine, which provides a unique perspective on the issues, stories, and triumphs of the open data movement.
WASHINGTON, DC — The Data Transparency Coalition and StreamLink Software announced today that StreamLink Software has joined the Coalition as a Regular Member. StreamLink’s support will help advance the goals of the Coalition, which seeks the standardization and publication of the U.S. government’s data.
“StreamLink Software is pioneering new solutions that use open data to streamline compliance mandates for grantees and other entities that are required to submit government reports” said Hudson Hollister, Executive Director of the Data Transparency Coalition. “We’re thrilled to welcome StreamLink’s leadership in support of our shared vision to achieve much-needed data transparency reforms like the DATA Act.”
Today’s announcement comes on the heels of the passage of the Digital Accountability and Transparency Act (DATA Act) through the U.S. House of Representatives on November 18. The enactment of the DATA Act, which will transform the federal government’s spending information from disconnected documents into open data, is the Coalition’s primary legislative goal. An amended version of the bill’s companion legislation was given unanimous approval by the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee earlier in November.
“StreamLink Software is excited to engage with the Data Transparency Coalition in the effort to win open data reforms like the DATA Act, which enhance public sector management and reduce costs,” said Adam Roth, President and CEO of StreamLink Software. “Citizens, agencies and grantees alike will benefit from a more efficient and reliable system of compliance that replaces manual reporting tasks with automation.”
StreamLink Software recently released a report exploring the state of grant reporting. The whitepaper explains how grant management will be transformed by the passage of the DATA Act.
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