Securities and Exchange Commission Chairman Christopher Cox recently met with representatives of the accounting and financial reporting software industry to express support for integrating interactive data capabilities into existing accounting and financial reporting software.

"Individual investors are looking for better tools to help them choose mutual funds and individual stocks," said Cox, in a statement. "Interactive data can help make those new tools available. To make it easier for companies to use interactive data in their financial reports, we're working with the industry to see whether existing accounting software can incorporate the interactive data functionality."

Cox said he's hoping software for professional analysts and retail investors can help the industry move beyond the current electronic images of paper-based forms to financial software that makes elaborate analysis and comparison of companies' financial reports routine and instantaneous.

Earlier this year, the SEC expanded its voluntary program for receiving financial information using Extensible Business Reporting Language. As part of the initiative, the SEC also issued a request for information from the software industry in October, to assist SEC staff in identifying ways to receive, store, view, and analyze interactive financial data.

XBRL is a technology that tags financial information through disparate applications and carries it through the business reporting chain, can lower costs and provide enhanced analytical capabilities for users, preparers and consumers of financial statementsThe full text of the RFI can be accessed at www.sec.gov/spotlight/xbrl.htm.

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