With the Securities & Exchange Commission's (SEC) attention focused elsewhere, it will be some time before XBRL, for extensible business reporting language, is mandated for corporate use. That's probably a good thing. About half the chief auditors responding to a recent Institute of Internal Auditors' (IIA) survey said they aren't familiar with the interactive data format, and another 42% indicated they know only the basics. Nine out of 10 said they need guidance. It's critical that internal auditors get up to speed on the process, says Lily Bi, IIA director of technology practices, because XBRL "will have an inevitable impact on the profession."
They now have more time to catch up. SEC Chairman Christopher Cox, not surprisingly, cancelled a planned appearance at XBRL International's mid-October conference where he was expected to officially establish new XBRL filing rules. Before the economic meltdown, Cox had been pressing for early adoption. The SEC issued a proposal in May that would require companies to submit their financial statements in XBRL format starting in the first quarter 2009. The status of that proposal is pending.