The American Institute of CPAs has written to the leaders of the Senate Homeland Security and Government Affairs Committee encouraging them to support the Digital Accountability and Transparency Act of 2013, also known as the DATA Act (S. 994), which includes a provision calling for establishment of government-wide financial data standards for federal funds.

While the legislation does not specify the data standard that would be selected, the AICPA noted that the best non-proprietary standard now available is eXtensible Business Reporting Language, or XBRL, which the Securities and Exchange Commission is now requiring public companies to use for their financial filings. 

“This legislation will allow the Congress, federal agencies, and the American public to understand, analyze and communicate where taxpayer dollars are spent using low-cost, readily available tools,” wrote AICPA president and CEO Barry Melancon in a letter Monday.  “Importantly, the benefits of using data tagging for federal financial and performance information will enhance the accuracy and transparency of that data, resulting in better, more informed decisions.”

He noted that the AICPA believes the bill is “another critical step forward to improving decision-making around effective government spending. “

The legislation is expected to be marked up by the committee on Wednesday, November 6, a preliminary step before the panel holds a vote on it.

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