Blog, External Reporting

Standardizing Government Reporting with Structured Data

As XBRL gains more and more traction, we are seeing all levels of government start to realize that the use of structured data can significantly improve their operation. Recently Florida legislation, HB 1073 enacted in March 2018, established the Florida Open Financial Statement System which enables the state CFO to build XBRL taxonomies for state, county, municipal, and special district financial filings. Most of the 90,000 state and local governments in the United States produce annual financial reports, and the lack of standardization in these reports has made it difficult to aggregate fiscal results and perform comparative analysis across public sector entities. In almost all cases, data-intensive financial reports are handled today through a largely manual process.

This has been a catalyst for XBRL US (the US jurisdiction of XBRL International) to establish the State and Local Government Disclosure Modernization Working Group, which is focused on using standards to improve the efficiency of data collection and analysis concerning the financial performance of governmental entities. The group’s efforts will improve government financial transparency, enhance the efficiency of the municipal bond market, and aid efforts to streamline regulatory reporting, including grant reporting. As a leading provider of software and service solutions for financial and business reporting and a long-standing member of XBRL US, Certent naturally joined several other companies, academic institutions and not-for-profits in forming this Working Group.

A primary goal for this Working Group is to build data standards for Comprehensive Annual Financial Reports (CAFRs), Single Audit packages, state-mandated Annual Financial Reports (AFRs), and responses to relevant Census Bureau financial surveys. Standards proposed by the group will implement existing accounting standards issued by the Governmental Accounting Standards Board (GASB) to help streamline financial reporting for US state and local governments, as well as public pension systems.

The adaptation of government reports to use structured data is an eagerly anticipated evolution. Government entities across the US currently use Certent CDM to build reports such as those that are to be covered by this working group, and Certent’s XBRL expertise and participation in the working group ensures our public-sector clients will be at the forefront of compliance.

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