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SEC Invests $54 Million for XBRL System for Corporate Filings

The Securities and Exchange Commission in US has awarded four separate contracts totaling $54 million to develop an interactive data system for corporate filings so that the public has easier access to the information.

Interactive data, known as XBRL or eXtensible Business Reporting Language, has high priority on SEC Chairman Chris Cox's to-do list. The SEC instituted the XBRL Voluntary Filing Program last year, and Cox has publicly encouraged SEC registrants to adopt XBRL for their filings.

According to an SEC statement, XBRL will “revolutionize” the SEC's own database — nicknamed Edgar — and “transform the agency's 1980s-vintage public company disclosure system from a form-based electronic filing cabinet to a dynamic real-time search tool with interactive capabilities.”

To date the SEC has not required companies to file their information in interactive format, largely because the XBRL labels haven't all been completed, and because Edgar can't yet utilize the extra capabilities of XBRL.

The four contracts will close that gap, the SEC said, paving the way for universal XBRL filings by companies.

— $48 million is for modernization of the system. The contractor is Keane Federal Systems Inc.

— $5.5 million is budgeted to write the XBRL code for U.S. GAAP financial statement. The contractor is XBRL-US Inc. (More on this story below).

— $500,000 will go toward providing investor tools on the SEC Web site, giving investors the ability to download not just SEC forms but specific data within those forms. The contractors are Rivet Software and Wall Street on Demand.

The SEC will hold its second interactive data roundtable on Tuesday, Oct. 3, focusing on new software for interactive, investor-friendly research tools.

Separately, the American Institute of CPAs announced that XBRL-US will become an independent, not-for-profit organization. Initially formed as a volunteer committee of the AICPA, the new entity will continue as the chartered U.S. jurisdiction of XBRL International, Inc, and as a member-supported entity.

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