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TechTalk Blog: US Treasury & OMB Select XBRL Data Standard for Sharing Financial Information Across Government

By David Colgren posted 05-12-2015 11:21 AM


We're pleased to announce that Treasury & OMB have selected XBRL late last week as the common data standard that will be used to exchange government financial information as described in this news article.

On March 7, 2015 – We posted that in early May the US Treasury and the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) would announce a government-wide common data standard for all federal spending information as mandated in the DATA Act unanimously approved by Congress and signed into law by the President of the United States in April 2014. The law requires that federal spending information be tagged using a common data standard (linked to government accounting definitions) and this information would be placed on an Open Data Cloud platform for public consumption and analysis since the information would be in a computer-readable format. 

This action by Treasury and OMB is similar to XBRL actions related to Standard Business Reporting now used in several countries including China, Netherlands and Australia for interoperability of critical government information across silo agencies for reduced regulatory reporting by companies to multiple agencies and for enhanced government financial performance transparency. Similar to the “Open Checkbook” program launched by the Ohio State Treasurer – the Data Act will create a new era of transparency for government spending using a common financial data format (XBRL).

Under the DATA Act, federal agencies will have two years to start reporting their financial information in the XBRL data format. We will provide information as it comes available as this moves forward across federal, state and local government open data platforms. This effort -- creating a common data format so tagged financial information can be computer-readable -- will be a potential opportunity for management accountants involved in government accounting/reporting and will spawn a new sector of accounting IT professionals with a concentration on data analytics/ forensic accounting.  As one of the founding members of the XBRL Consortium the IMA has been a big supporter of the DATA ACT and has actively advocated the use of the XBRL data standard for federal government financial reporting.

The US Comptroller General spoke in March before the US Senate Budget Committee about current abuses in government spending because of the lack of transparency and accountability and he personally indicated that he wanted to take an active role in the implementation of the DATA Act to usher in a new era of government financial accountability and transparency. 

The US Health & Human Services Department indicated to the press recently that the federal agency will begin piloting the Data Act implementation for US social program transparency and accountability.

Again, we are please that US Treasury and OMB have selected XBRL as the common data format. This effort builds on the efforts of both US SEC and FDIC to promote transparency and accountability in the capital markets also using the XBRL data format linked to accounting definitions for financial information. 

We hope to provide additional information as the Data Act moves forward and what impact this will have on management accountants. 


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