AICPA Continues to Support Data Transparency

April 23, 2015

ChairsSpeaking at the Data Transparency Coalition’s March 24 “Financial Regulation Summit: Data Transparency Transformation,” Amy Pawlicki, director of business reporting assurance & advisory service for the American Institute of CPAs (AICPA), expressed AICPA’s continued support for data standards for greater efficiency and transparency.  She participated in the event’s Financial Industry Panel, along with James Allen from the CFA Institute, Rich Cooper from the U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation, and Al Berkeley, chairman of Princeton Capital Management and former president and vice-chairman of NASDAQ.  The common theme of the panel was leveraging the open data opportunity.

Pawlicki noted that eXtensible Business Reporting Language (XBRL), which is the electronic business reporting format now required for all public company financial reporting to the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), was incubated under the auspices of the AICPA committee structure before being spun out into its own not-for-profit consortia that the AICPA continues to support.  Her comments focused on the AICPA’s commitment to data standards like XBRL as a critical foundational element in its efforts to evolve corporate reporting and auditing to meet changing market needs and expectations.

Pawlicki observed that while the AICPA is encouraged by the SEC’s adoption of the XBRL format for public company reporting, and its continued efforts to enhance the usefulness of XBRL-tagged data for regulatory and investor analysis, the AICPA’s vision has always been toward the adoption of data standards in what it calls the “broader footprint.”  Essentially this means applying an interoperable data standard like XBRL to all private and public sector reporting streams, to reduce the reporting burden on companies that have to report through so many different channels, and to enhance the transparency, accessibility and usability of reported information for those who analyze it. 

During the Financial Industry Panel and other panels, the Summit highlighted that the data standards-related provisions in the DATA Act have generated momentum around the potential for data standards to drive transparency in the broader footprint, including both private and public sector reporting.  The Summit was evidence of the tremendous enthusiasm from representatives of many different constituencies around the potential for broader application of data standards in the United States.