The American Institute of CPAs (AICPA) and state CPA societies have long advocated for enhancing transparency around federal spending through the use of eXtensible Business Reporting Language (or XBRL). With the enactment of the Digital Accountability and Transparency Act of 2014 (or DATA Act), that goal moves one step closer to fruition.
President Obama signed the measure into law on May 9, 2014; it became Public Law No. 113-101.
AICPA President and CEO Barry C. Melancon, CPA, CGMA, noted in a statement, “By signing the DATA Act into law, President Obama has paved the way for implementation of a system that will allow each and every one of us to more easily track federal spending data.”
The data transparency provisions in the Act call for the adoption of a data standard that is "a widely accepted, nonproprietary, searchable, platform-independent computer-readable format" to report federal contract, loan, and grant spending information of federal programs. The AICPA believes that XBRL is currently the best standard to meet these requirements and supported the bill throughout the process working with lawmakers to ensure that the legislative language reflects that approach. The AICPA will continue to work with the Department of the Treasury and Office of Management and Budget as they establish their guidance for federal agencies.
The DATA Act was sponsored in the House by Reps. Darrell Issa (R-Calif.) and Elijah Cummings (D-Md.) and in the Senate by Sens. Mark Warner (D-Va.) and Rob Portman (R-Ohio). Also instrumental in gaining support for the bill were Senators Tom Carper (D-De.) and Tom Coburn (R-Ok.). The AICPA and state CPA societies worked with these leaders and other members of Congress throughout the process to encourage inclusion of appropriate data standard language in the legislation.
The AICPA believes that this good-government bill will provide taxpayers and policy makers alike with more transparent access to information about how federal agencies spend taxpayer dollars.