The Securities and Exchange Commission will spend $54 million to overhaul its 20-year-old public company disclosure system from a form-based electronic filing system to a real-time search tool with interactive capabilities, according to a story in ComputerWorld.
The story stated, “According to an SEC statement, the commission does not require companies to file their information in interactive format using Extensible Business Reporting Language (XBRL), an XML-based specification for exchanging financial reports over the Internet. This is mainly because the XBRL labels are not completed and the SEC’s Electronic Data Gathering, Analysis and Retrieval database, nicknamed EDGAR, can’t use the extra capabilities of XBRL, the statement said.
“EDGAR is the SEC’s primary system for accepting company filings and providing information to investors.
“The SEC said three contracts announced this week will close that gap, paving the way for universal XBRL filings by companies.
“‘[This announcement] demonstrates the commission’s firm commitment to interactive data and represents a significant milestone on the road to achieving that goal,’ said SEC Chairman Christopher Cox in the statement. ‘The new system will make it easier both to file information with the commission and to use it. For investors and analysts, it will represent a quantum leap over existing disclosure technologies. For companies, it will mean easier and less costly compliance with SEC requirements.'”
Read more here. I can only interpret this as a positive for business journalists in that it will make it easier to search SEC filings for specific information. In addition, for those of us advanced enough to manipulate data using Excel spreadsheets, I think this will also make it easier to compare the financial performance of companies.