The Maryland Association of Certified Public Accountants used Altova's MapForce graphical mapping tool and FlowForce Server to automate XBRL data transformation, collection and processing. Read how they did it.
This is a major step forward in bringing transparency and accountability to the federal government spending. I truly believe this can be an opportunity to reestablish trust in government as it will force the discipline of accountability when the numbers can be seen.
The quote by Ford's CEO Alan Mulally during their turnaround seems apropos, "You can't manage a secret." Bu connecting the many disparate government systems with standardized and open data, there will be less and less "secrets" and more and more people who can look for the meaning behind the numbers. Ultimately those insights can lead to actions to look for fraud, errors, and opportunities.
Our dream of transparent federal spending data and government accountability is a step closer to reality. The U.S. Senate has unanimously passed the Digital Accountability and Transparency Act, or DATA Act. Nearly three years in the making, the legislation would standardize the ways in which federal spending information is reported and call for the creation of a searchable online database that would let all Americans see how the government is spending their money. The bill next moves to the House...
Tom Hood's insight:
Very exciting news! Transparency, Performance Management, Accountability are possible with open data standards and disclosure to the public. With the pending approval from the House (already passed twice), this exciting new era of "open government" may be the key to establishing trust with the public and allow the government to get a handle on its own spending. Much like the XBRL standards (eXtensible Business Reporting Language http://www.xbrl.org) have done at the public company level with the SEC and at the banking level with the FDIC.
We (http://www.macpa.org) have been on the forefront of this effort for the past five years including a skunkworks project to "tag" our own financials with XBRL to experience what is involved.
Congratulations to Hudson Hollister and the Data Coalition (http://www.datacoalition.org) and the entire XBRL community for their work on this.
Transparency, Accountability and Government as data tagged in a common taxonomycan greatkly improve analysis and transparency.
Major movement for DATA Act (XBRL) as Senate Committee is unanimous on DATA Act. It has already passed the House.
In his post, Recovery.gov: The First Step Toward Smart Regulation, W. David Stephenson sums it up like this: "If eventually adopted not just by Recovery.gov but agencies in general, such an approach could dramatically reduce companies' and local governments' reporting burdens; improve regulatory oversight by giving agencies simultaneous, real-time access to the same data; and, as a bonus, help improve organizations' efficiency."
See our post about this - A little revolution can be good from time to time
Many big companies are churning out their own performance benchmarks, scrambling to satisfy investors' demands for a window into nearly every aspect of their business.
Tom Hood's insight:
Key insights as accounting works to deal with new metrics and Big Data. Here is where XBRL can play a significant role as we work to standardizes & systemtize data and metrics versus starting more and more categories of data to have to report and analyze. Also highlights the need for CPAs to work on their strategic thinking and communications skills.
“The relevance of accounting information in financial reports is decreasing at an alarming rate,” says Baruch Lev, an accounting and finance professor at New York University’s Stern School of Business. “What investors need is a comprehensive picture of the business model of a company and how it is executed.”
As the last group of companies is subject to the final phase of the Securities and Exchange Commission mandate this summer, we are reaching a major turning point for eXtensible Business Reporting Language implementation in the U.S.
A few different documents and reports recently published by the Australian Government offer a wealth of information on the origin and history of the SBR program, on its current status, on its impact on the Australian business environment so far and...
Rooting out rework and inefficiency in finance and accounting produces imrpoved workflows that produce clean financials and timely analysis.
Tom Hood's insight:
Love the concept of "quality at the source" and "that everyone in a workflow is accountable for the overall result".
We are undertaking a move to the cloud with our accounting and association management systems and are following your playbook. First looking at all workflows in major business lines and then looking for the "place of best opportunity" for maximizing the benefits of the key cloud systems we are implementing (Tallie (Expense management), Bill.com (payable/receivables) and Intacct (ERP/GL). The other key concept I would add is make sure that your teams resist the urge to "pave the cowpaths" when automating workflows by first looking for the new and improved ways of processing before customizing.
My second insight is that this article describes the intent behind the recently enacted federal DATA ACT (Digital Accountability and Transparency Act) which is about creating "quality at the source" for recipients of federal money to "tag" their financial transactions with a standardized coding system (taxonomy) that will allow for more accurate, faster, and much more transparent accounting of federal spending.
Finally there are new tools like XBRL and XBRL GL which can help bring standardized data together from disparate systems and support the workflow and analysis functions.
A bill that could shed a lot of light on government expenditures moves one step closer to being law.
Tom Hood's insight:
Why does the DATA Act matter? Right now it's difficult for the public to get a full look at government expenditures and make sure the government is being held accountable. And open data advocates argue that when the private sector gets access to government data, it could find new ways to leverage it -- creating new services for consumers and new jobs.
I am reminded of the call to action from Wired Magazine after the Wall Street Mortgage meltdown, in the article, Road Map for Financial Recovery: Radical Transparency Now! writer Dan Roth said this,
"When data is kept under lock and key, as mysterious as a temple secret, only the priests can read and interpret it. But place it in the public domain and suddenly it takes on new life. People start playing with the information, reaching strange new conclusions or raising questions that no one else would think to ask. It is impossible to predict who will become obsessed with the data or why—but someone will."
Well Wall Street has become transparent with the direction of the SEC and XBRL. So has the FDIC with their banking call reports. Isn't this a major opportunity for government to do the same?
XBRL filings are a rich source of data that all departments can use to make operations more efficient and to conduct competitive analysis.
Tom Hood's insight:
As data becomes more digitized and connected, it will continue to have more value beyond just compliance. The SEC's latest AQM (Accounting Quality Model) to increase the accuracy and reliability of XBRL filings, maybe it is time for CFOs to think differently about XBRL.
"CFOs benefit also from correctly tagging information because the data is used by investors to gauge a company’s market value and determine if it is a smart investment. Finally, the board of directors and senior management team can and should use the data forgovernance, risk and compliance (GRC) measures and value-based decision-making."
The entire supply chain of accounting and financial data can lead to increased efficiencies and at a insights if the data is accurate.
The Open Government, Government 2.0, and E-Governance movements fill the need of connecting citizens with the government and each other to foster a more open, collaborative, and efficient public sector through the use of new technology and public...
This is as big as GPS data being available. I'm looking forward to machine readable goverment data http://t.co/POKcCMC0FW RT @dorje
Tom Hood's insight:
Don't miss the latest on Transparency, Performance Management, Accountabilty at our upcoming MACPA Innovation Summit this Friday at Martin's West - XBRL world-wide update by Mike Willis, NFP Taxonomy with Skip Falatko, New XBRL AuditvData Standars, XBRL GL and overview of XBRL and accounting standards by Terri Polley of FAF (FASB & GASB).
Information technology and software play an essential role in enhancing the capabilities of accountants and analysts, resulting in increased efficiency of their processes and work streams, and driving savings in cost and time. Companies can invest significant resources in time and money to automate and streamline information processes through the use of data warehouses and consolidation applications. Pencil and paper were the common tools of the 20th Century, but computers, electronic worksheets, and online applications prevail today. Yet, too often report assembly and review processes remain largely manual.
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