AICPA Supports New Law with Groundbreaking XBRL Reporting Requirement

October 13, 2011

The American Institute of Certified Public Accountants supports a new law that for the first time requires reporting to the federal government using such nonproprietary standards as eXtensible Business Reporting Language, which is commonly referred to as XBRL.

The Child and Family Services Improvement and Innovation Act, H.R. 2883, requires recipients of federal child welfare funds under the Child Welfare Services program and the Safe and Stable program to report certain data to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services using XBRL or a similar type of nonproprietary standard. 

In a letter to Congress urging passage of the legislation, AICPA President and CEO Barry Melancon said, “The use of data tagging to enhance both the transparency and the ability to analyze financial and other data has been proved time and time again.  XBRL provides a detailed yet customizable approach to gathering data and will provide significant transparency to the federal government and the American people regarding the use of taxpayer funds.”

Representative Geoff Davis, the sponsor of H.R. 2883 and a Republican from Kentucky, said on the floor of the U.S. House of Representatives while urging House members to vote for the bill, “We have often heard in hearings that states and programs within states have difficulty coordinating services because of difficulty sharing data, and that this lack of coordination increases costs and decreases effectiveness.  This bill directs the Secretary of HHS to work with the states to establish national data standards so that all state child welfare programs are speaking the same language.”

Melancon noted in his Sept. 20 letter that “XBRL has been used for a number of years by the federal government in areas such as Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation call reports and public company financial reporting to the Securities and Exchange Commission.”

The House passed H.R. 2883 on Sept. 21 by a vote of 395 to 25.  The Senate passed the bill on a voice vote on Sept. 22, and it was signed by President Obama on Sept. 30.  It is Public Law No. 112-034.