The VSCPA applauds Sen. Mark Warner (D-Va.) for his role in the Senate’s recent passage of the Digital Accountability and Transparency Act (DATA Act), which calls for utilization of a non-proprietary, platform independent data standard by Federal agencies for reporting spending of Federal funds.
The legislation was approved in a unanimous consent motion offered on the Senate floor on April 10. It had been marked up and favorably reported by the Senate Homeland Security and Government Affairs Committee last November.
The bill would require the U.S. Department of the Treasury to establish common standards for financial data provided by all government agencies and to expand the amount of data that agencies must provide to the government website, USASpending.gov.
Because the measure calls for the use of data standard such as eXtensible Business Reporting Language (XBRL), it has the potential to significantly improve the efficiency of the federal government’s reporting of financial information.
XBRL is a royalty-free, international information format designed specifically for business information, also referred to as ‘interactive data’ by the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC). The idea behind XBRL is simple: instead of treating business information as a block of text — as in a printed paper document or a standard Internet page — it provides a unique, electronically readable tag for each individual disclosure item within business reports.
The U.S. House of Representatives overwhelmingly passed its version of the DATA Act on Nov. 18, 2013, by a vote of 388-1. House proponents have been involved in making changes to the bill just passed by the Senate, so it is hoped that the bill can be passed soon and forwarded to the President to be signed into law.