Federal Issues

    XBRL 

    The AICPA supports the use of Extensible Business Reporting Language (XBRL), or data tagging, for reporting of financial and other data. The Institute believes that users of financial and other business information benefit from data tagging because interactive data allows for easier access to more transparent information.

    Both the private and public sectors are working toward implementing XBRL for financial information. The Securities and Exchange Commission adopted final rules in February 2009 requiring public companies to submit financial statements filed in XBRL format including annual and quarterly reports, registration statements and transition reports. Using a phased-in approach based upon market capitalization, as of 2011, all SEC filers that use U.S. generally accepting accounting principles (U.S. GAAP) and foreign issuers that use International Financial Reporting Standards (IFRS) are required to submit their reports to the SEC using XBRL.  The FDIC also requires bank call reports to be filed using XBRL.

    Legislative Proposals

    113th Congress

    Digital Accountability and Transparency Act

    The “Digital Accountability and Transparency Act of 2013” or “DATA Act” was introduced in both the House and Senate in May 2013.  Representatives Darrel Issa, a California Republican, and Elijah Cummings, a Maryland Democrat, respectively the Chairman and Ranking Member of the Oversight and Government Reform Committee, cosponsored the House legislation, H.R. 2061.  The companion Senate bill, S. 994, is cosponsored by Mark Warner, a Virginia Democrat, and Rob Portman, an Ohio Republican.

    The DATA Act would require nonproprietary data standards to be used for the reporting of financial data and other information by federal government agencies.   It requires the Secretary of the Treasury “to establish Government-wide financial data standards for Federal funds.”  The legislative language is written to appropriately specify that the data standard selected must “incorporate a widely-accepted nonproprietary, searchable, platform-independent computer-readable format,” and is “capable of being continually upgraded as necessary.”  XBRL meets these and all of the other criteria of the bill.

    In early November 2013, S.994 was considered and unanimously passed out of the Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee and is currently awaiting a vote by the full Senate.  H.R. 2061 overwhelmingly passed the House of Representatives with a vote of 388-1 in mid-November.  Once the Senate bill is passed, the House and Senate versions will have to be reconciled before final passage. The AICPA has written letters in support of the data transparency sections of these bills; see below.

    Standard DATA Act

    The “Standard Data and Technology Advancement Act” or “Standard DATA Act,” H.R. 948, was introduced by Representative Tom Reed, a New York Republican, on March 5, 2013 with 9 bipartisan cosponsors. This bill would require that the Office of Management and Budget establish an interagency work group to designate nonproprietary data standards, such as XBRL, for any information reported under a number of health and human services programs (amends Social Security Act titles III, IV, IX, XII, XVI, subtitle A of title XX, and section 511). The AICPA supports these data transparency provisions of this bill.

    Previous Congresses

    Child and Family Services Improvement and Innovation Act Enacted with XBRL Provision

    The “Child and Family Services Improvement and Innovation Act” was enacted on September 30, 2011. Sponsored by Congressmen Geoff Davis, a Kentucky Republican, and Lloyd Doggett, a Texas Democrat, and Senators Max Baucus, a Montana Democrat, and Orrin Hatch, a Utah Republican, the primary purpose of the legislation is to extend child and family services programs.  It calls for data standardization, and specifically requires the Secretary of the Department of Health and Human Services and the Office of Management and Budget to work to establish non-proprietary data standards, such as XBRL, for reporting of information for improved data matching. This marked the first time provisions to require nonproprietary data standards, such as XBRL, were enacted in legislation.

    Additional Legislation Incorporating Data Transparency Provisions

    There have been numerous legislative proposals in the 111th and 112th Congresses that included provisions requiring federal agencies to use a non-proprietary data-reporting language such as XBRL. This trend indicates that there is growing support for making financial information more transparent. None of these initiatives passed both the House and Senate by the time Congress adjourned its second year session, so new bills would need to be introduced in order to initiate any new Congressional action.

    Digital Accountability and Transparency Act

    There have been previous versions of the DATA Act noted above.  H.R. 2146 passed the House in April 2012; however, the Senate version, S.1222, was not considered. A second Senate version, S. 3600, introduced by Senators Warner and Portman, had several differences from the original and is more like the versions being considered in the 113th Congress. 

    Standard DATA Act

    The “Standard DATA Act,” H.R. 3339, was also put forth in the 112th Congress by Representative Geoff Davis, a Kentucky Republican, and Representative Lloyd Doggett, a Texas Democrat. Davis has since retired from the House, and Doggett remains an original cosponsor of the bill in the 113th Congress.

    Other Legislation

    Also in the 112th Congress, Senator Orrin Hatch, a Utah Republican, and Congressman Dave Camp, a Michigan Republican, each introduced bills entitled the “Jobs, Opportunity, Benefits and Services (JOBS) Act of 2011” (S. 904 and H.R. 1745). Each of these bills included a provision requiring the Department of Labor to work with the Federal Office of Management and Budget and the states to designate data-reporting standards to govern the reporting required under Titles III and IX of the Social Security Act. The bills stated, “In designating reporting standards under this subsection, the Secretary of Labor shall, to the extent practicable, incorporate existing nonproprietary standards, such as the eXtensible Business Reporting Language.” 

    In the 111th Congress there were numerous proposals calling for XBRL reporting. Among them are H.R. 2392, the “Government Information Transparency Act,” which passed in the House in 2009, and H.R. 6038, the “Financial Industry Transparency Act,” introduced by Congressman Issa. The provisions of H.R, 6038 were offered originally as amendments to  H.R. 4173, which eventually became the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform Act, but were later dropped. A third bill is S. 303, the “Federal Financial Assistant Management Improvement Act of 2009,” introduced by Senator George Voinovich, an Ohio Democrat. That bill passed in both chambers but in versions that were never reconciled.

    Resources

    Copy of Legislation


    Copies of bills are available on the Library of Congress’s THOMAS website.

    AICPA Letters and Issue Papers

    November 18, 2013 Letter to House of Representatives re H.R. 2061

    November 4, 2013 Letter to Homeland Security and Government Affairs Committee re S. 994

    May 22, 2013 Letter in Support of S. 994, the “Digital Accountability and Transparency Act of 2013”

    May 21, 2013 Letter in Support of H.R. 2061, the “Digital Accountability and Transparency Act of 2013”

    March 12, 2013 Letter in Support of Federal Government Data Transparency

    December 18, 2012 Letter in Support of the Data Standards Provisions of S. 3600, the Digital Accountability and Transparency Act"

    September 20, 2011 AICPA Letter in Support of H.R. 2883, the "Child and Family Services Improvement and Innovation Act"

    September 20, 2011 AICPA Letter in Support of S. 1542, the "Child and Family Services Improvement and Innovation Act"

    AICPA Issue Paper Supporting H.R. 2146 and S. 1222: the "Digital Accountability and Transparency Act of 2011"

    June 20, 2011 AICPA Letter in Support of H.R. 2146, the "Digital Accountability and Transparency Act of 2011"

    September 17, 2010 AICPA Letter in Support of H.R. 6038, the "Financial Industry Transparency Act" 

    April 9, 2009 AICPA Comment Letter to the SEC on the Proposed Roadmap to U.S. Adoption of IFRS 

    AICPA Press Releases


    January 15, 2010, AICPA Webcast to Guide Public Companies on Furnishing XBRL Data to SEC

    December 17, 2009, U.S. SEC Releases Final Rule Mandating Companies to Report Financial Statements Using XBRL, Interactive Data Format

    October 20, 2008, AICPA Hails New Framework by WICI for Enhanced Business Reporting

    Staff Contacts

    Diana Huntress Deem
    Director, Congressional and Political Affairs
    ddeem@aicpa.org
    202.434.9276

    Other Web Resources

    XRBL.US

    SEC XBRL Website: XBRL.SEC.GOV

    SEC Final XBRL Rule, February 3, 2009

    XRBL International

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    Convergence of International and US Accounting Principles and IFRS

    Article International Financial Reporting Standards (IFRS) set by the International Accounting Standards Board (IASB) in London is a response to worldwide demand from regulators, investors, businesses, and auditing firms for a single set of high-quality, globally-accepted accounting standards.
    Published on April 17, 2014

    AICPA Letter to SEC on Proposed Regulation Crowdfunding

    Comment Letter AICPA comments on the SEC's proposed new Regulation Crowdfunding under the Securities Act of 1933 and the Securities Exchange Act of 1934 to implement the requirements of Title III of the JOBS Act as published in SEC File No. S7-09-13.
    Published on February 06, 2014

    Jan 2014 - AICPA Statement for the Record regarding Conferences and Travel

    Article AICPA provided a Statement for the Record to the Senate Homeland Security and Government Affairs Committee in  response  to the hearing held on January 14, 2014 entitled, "Examining Conference and Travel Spending Across the Federal Government."
    Published on January 28, 2014

    Cash Basis Letter to Senate Finance Committee from Associations-Jan7-2014

    Legislative Letters Cash Basis Letter to Senate Finance Committee dated Jaunary 7, 2014 from American Council of Engineering Companies, American Dental Association, American Farm Bureau Federation, American Institute of Architects, American Institute of CPAs and S Corporation Association.
    Published on January 22, 2014

    Municipal Advisors

    Issue Brief The AICPA generally supports the SEC’s proposed rules as a means to strengthen investor protections in the municipal securities market.  The AICPA is concerned, however, because the proposed rule would require that accountants performing customary and usual accounting services would be required to register as municipal advisors.
    Published on January 07, 2014

    XBRL

    Article Extensible Business Reporting Language (XBRL) used in financial and other reporting allows for easier access to more transparent information.  AICPA supports legislative proposals to utilize XBRL by companies, Federal agencies and recipients of Federal funds.
    Published on December 30, 2013

    ERISA Fiduciary Definition - Appraisers of Employee Stock Ownership Plans

    Article The AICPA believes that the U.S. DOL should implement rules that would require appraisers of ESOPs to meet minimum qualification requirements, including holding relevant credentials and training, and comply with applicable professional valuation standards.
    Published on December 30, 2013

    Take Action Legislation Affecting ESOP Appraisers

    Article The AICPA urges FVS section members to seek congressional support of legislation to fix DOL fiduciary proposal on ESOP appraisers S. 273/HR 2041.
    Published on September 18, 2013

    CPAs Count! Make Your Voice Heard on Capitol Hill.

    Overview The AICPA PAC is the profession’s political action committee. This describes frequently asked questions about the AICPA PAC.
    Published on July 30, 2013

    AICPA Letter to House and Senate Cosponsor S273 and HR2041

    Legislative Letters AICPA Letter to House and Senate Cosponsor S273 and HR2041
    Published on July 12, 2013

    AICPA Letter to U.S. House of Representatives Supporting H.R. 1564.

    Legislative Letters The AICPA supported a bill passed on July 8, 2013 by the U.S. House of Representatives which would prevent the PCAOB from imposing mandatory audit firm rotation for public companies.
    Published on July 12, 2013

    May 21, 2013 Letter in Support of H.R. 2061, the Digital Accountability and Transparency Act of 2013

    Comment Letter May 21, 2013 Letter in Support of H.R. 2061, the “Digital Accountability and Transparency Act of 2013”.
    Published on June 27, 2013

    May 22, 2013 Letter in Support of S. 994, the Digital Accountability and Transparency Act of 2013

    Comment Letter May 22, 2013 Letter in Support of S. 994, the “Digital Accountability and Transparency Act of 2013”
    Published on June 27, 2013

    March 12, 2013 Letter in Support of Federal Government Data Transparency

    Comment Letter March 12, 2013 Letter in Support of Federal Government Data Transparency
    Published on June 27, 2013

    AICPA Letter to House Financial Services Committee Supporting H.R. 1564.

    Legislative Letters The AICPA supported a bill approved on June 19, 2013 by the House Financial Services Committee that would prevent the PCAOB from imposing mandatory audit firm rotation for public companies.
    Published on June 19, 2013

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