A White House memo directing agencies to finalize their rules before the fall election could have an impact on plans for the use of Extensible Business Reporting Language and International Financial Reporting Standards in filings with the Securities and Exchange Commission.

White House Chief of Staff Josh Bolten sent a memo to federal agencies requiring that all the rules that need to be finalized before the administration leaves office should be proposed by June 1 and the final rules issued by Nov. 1, according to Dow Jones Newswires. A report by BNA and a blog entry by Financial Executives International speculate that the deadline may affect the SEC’s proposal that the largest public companies begin filing financial statements tagged in XBRL early next year, as well as the anticipated roadmap for convergence of IFRS with U.S. generally accepted accounting principles.

In a conference call hosted by XBRL US, one of the groups helping develop the standard, David Blaszkowsky, director of the SEC’s Office of Interactive Disclosure, said the technology would make the underlying data in financial statements much more usable.

“We’re adding capabilities [to go] from technology that was limited to presentation to a technology that allows the data to live as it is,” he said. “It will bring better, more real-time, more usable data to investors.” The SEC plans to issue the proposal for requiring XBRL by May 25 and give the public 60 days to comment before it imposes the rules, which could be finalized by the fall (see SEC Votes for Mandatory XBRL Filing).

IFRS is also on the way. “The standard setters have been working for several years on a convergence agenda and the standards have been coming together over that period of time,” said Danita Ostling, Ernst & Young’s Americas IFRS technical leader.

She noted that SEC Chairman Christopher Cox (pictured) recently told the U.S. Chamber of Commerce that the SEC would issue a roadmap that lays out a schedule and milestones for the IFRS transition later this year. SEC Chief Accountant Conrad Hewitt said at an accounting conference at Baruch College in New York earlier this month that there would be a “proposing release” sometime in early summer.

It’s unclear if they will be affected by the White House memo or if the memo applies to roadmaps and proposing releases. "The recent notices by the White House may affect that timing, but I think the commitment from the SEC is still there to get the roadmap out,” said Ostling. “The roadmap doesn’t have to be rulemaking.”


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