Mok: Government should adopt XBRL

Federal agencies should adopt Extensible Business Reporting Language (XBRL) for their financial data, said Samuel Mok, the Labor Department’s chief financial officer.

A derivative of Extensible Markup Language, XBRL is an open metadata standard for tagging business and financial data that greatly simplifies analysis by making information buried in text documents visible to computers.

Adoption of the XBRL metadata standard would greatly simplify the fight for financial systems standardization governmentwide, Mok said, speaking yesterday at an Industry Advisory Council shared interested group event.

“My whole point is don’t fight that battle; try to have something on top” that allows agencies to have their individual systems while allowing data compatibility, he said. “I am right now broaching the concept with anybody who wants to listen.”

Currently, the Securities and Exchange Commission allows companies to voluntarily submit financial reports using XBRL. The Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. (FDIC) will require banks to submit information using XBRL Oct. 1.

“XBRL is not a science project,” said Mike Bartell, the FDIC’s chief information officer. “It works. It’s real.” Its potential for advances in data mining and analysis “could have tremendous impacts,” Bartell added.


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About the Author

David Perera is a special contributor to Defense Systems.

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