The American Institute of CPAs is teaming up with XBRL US to develop a certificate program focused on U.S. GAAP reporting in Extensible Business Reporting Language format.

Public companies are now required to use the data-tagged XBRL file format when filing their financial statements with the Securities and Exchange Commission. The certificate program that the AICPA and XBRL plan to produce will require students to complete approximately 30 hours of online coursework, ranging from understanding the basics of XBRL and the U.S. GAAP Financial Reporting Taxonomy, to helping participants master the complexities of detailed footnote tagging.

The program is designed for public company accountants, third-party accountants that work with public companies, and employees of XBRL consultants and service providers. The U.S. GAAP XBRL taxonomy is now maintained by the Financial Accounting Standards Board.

The content for the certificate program was developed by XBRL US, the AICPA and FASB, in addition to various accounting firms and XBRL tool and service providers. The certificate will be delivered in an online format by the AICPA, which has been developing accounting education coursework for the profession for decades. 

CPE credit will be available for all modules. The program is scheduled to launch in the first quarter of next year.  Early research conducted among members of the AICPA and XBRL US indicated market demand for the online training, particularly among public company preparers.

“XBRL is now a standard part of every public company's reporting process and it's critical that preparers have solid guidelines," said AICPA president and CEO Barry Melancon in a statement. “Participants in the XBRL US GAAP Certificate program will receive the best, most consistent knowledge on how to produce XBRL financials.”

Over 8,800 companies are now providing XBRL tags for both face financials and detailed data in footnotes.  In their phase-in of the XBRL mandate for public companies, the Securities and Exchange Commission allowed companies a one-year grace period that gave them limited liability on their XBRL formatted financials.  That limited liability has been lifted for all accelerated filers and by mid-year 2013, will be eliminated for all filers. 

"The U.S. GAAP Certificate Program is a valuable resource for companies as they create their XBRL data,” said Terri Polley, president and CEO of the Financial Accounting Foundation, which oversees FASB. “The FAF and the FASB were pleased to participate in the development of the program as part of our ongoing efforts to promote high quality financial reporting in the U.S. capital markets.”

The certificate program will include eight modules, such as Understanding XBRL, Understanding the US GAAP Taxonomy, Creating the Extension Taxonomy and Building the Instance Document; two modules on Statements; and 22 modules on the tagging of individual footnotes such as for debt, tax and business combinations.

"The importance of creating high-quality data is even more critical today, and there's been a real lack of guidance in the marketplace for public companies and for the service providers that work with them,” said XBRL US president and CEO Campbell Pryde in a statement. “The importance of a program like the XBRL US GAAP Certificate is its ability to create a standard in how the US GAAP taxonomy should be used.  The consistency in approach will help companies create better XBRL financials.”

For more information on the program, visit www.cpa2biz.com/xbrlcertificate.