Mandatory XBRL use moved a step closer to reality with XBRL U.S.Inc.'s handover Friday to the SEC of the final drafts of thecomputer labels that make financial data interactive and increaseits transparency. But that action was just a prelude to theanticipated imminent release of a proposed timetable forimplementation of eXtensible Business Reporting Language by U.S.public companies. SEC officials have been hinting that a proposalrequiring U.S. public companies to use XBRL could be introduced assoon as next Wednesday (May 14), when the Securities and ExchangeCommission next meets to consider the future of XBRL. In a speechat a meeting of the American Bar Association last month, SECgeneral counsel Brian Cartwright predicted that just such aproposal would be released “in the near future.”


Implementation will likely be phased in over two years. Justlast week, SEC chief accountant Conrad Hewitt noted that anadvisory group suggested that companies attach computer codes totheir financial tables, or “tag” the tables and financial statementfootnotes in the first year. In the second year, companies couldprovide detailed tagging of the footnotes. Another advisorycommittee has recommended that the 500 largest U.S. publiccompanies tackle XBRL the first year, followed by others afterinitial results are reviewed.


The SEC has encouraged voluntary XBRL filing since April 2005.And earlier this year, the SEC Advisory Committee on Improvementsto Financial Reporting recommended to SEC Chairman Christopher Coxthat all U.S. public companies adopt XBRL, following a phased-intransition based on company size and reviews of the program'sprogress.


Worldwide acceptance continues apace. On Tuesday, the day beforean international XBRL conference was scheduled to begin in theNetherlands, XBRL International Inc. announced the formation ofXBRL Europe, a Brussels-based, nonprofit organization designed tocoordinate existing XBRL efforts in Europe and help fosteradditional programs. “Several voluntary and mandatory XBRL filingprograms are already under way in the EU and yielding positiveresults,” says Conor O'Kelly, acting chair of the new XBRL Europeexecutive committee. “XBRL Europe will help coordinate thoseefforts, nurture others within the region and coordinate additionaladoption efforts that demonstrate the value and power of XBRL.”

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