Written by Bob Schneider Posted March 30, 2007
Under the leadership of Chairman Christopher Cox, the SEC has become a strong advocate and agent of interactive data (the Commission's preferred term for XBRL) .Thus the SEC website has become a key resource for monitoring developments at the agency for adoption of XBRL for financial reporting. The site contains the important (and enjoyable) speeches of Mr. Cox and his Chief Technology Officer, Corey Booth; webcasts and transcripts of XBRL-related SEC roundtables; and relevant proposed rules and press releases. Moreover, it contains interactive data submitted under the Commission's Voluntary Filing Program (VFP) and stored in its EDGAR database, as well as a tool for viewing these filings online.
Given the wide scope of SEC activities, it's not surprising that a lot of this material isn't easy to locate at the site. Spotlight On: Interactive Data and XBRL Initiatives is a gateway page of sorts. It contains recent press releases, archives of interactive data roundtables, a few of Chairman Cox's speeches, and access to the XBRL RSS Feed File. But some key items are difficult to find on the page, and other important XBRL content is not included at all. I therefore hope you'll bookmark this post and use its links to quickly locate what you need at the site. As always, if readers can suggest a better way (other than Googling), please add your comments below.
XBRL Filings Viewing an XBRL filing formerly required downloading several files into an XBRL reader, a process that was (and remains) confusing for the average user. Fortunately, the addition of the Interactive Financial Report Viewer now makes it possible for visitors to look at XBRL filings online.
The Viewer is mostly self-explanatory, but two items are worth mentioning. First, you can click Company Comparison Report (as shown in the image below, it's tucked away at the bottom of the left-side menu) and follow the instructions to compare financial statements from two companies side by side.
Second, more sophisticated users (like programmers) may want to download the actual XBRL files. Start by clicking the filing you want, like Comcast Corp's Annual Report (2006-12-31) in the above image. With the report now open, click the SEC XBRL Filing link (click the image below; it's the last command on the lower-right menu).
XBRL filings are also available from the XBRL Data Submitted in the XBRL Voluntary Program on EDGAR page. For any individual filing, click the html (as opposed to the txt) link to display the XBRL files.
Speeches Not only are the speeches of Chairman Cox informative and useful, they are well-written and amusing. The Speeches and Public Statements section of the Spotlight page contains a few of his XBRL presentations. But others are absent, including his speech at the Philadelphia conference. Moreover, the links to speeches on the Spotlight page are often for audio, and you may want the text instead.
The presentations of SEC Commissioners, including the Chairman, as well as staff can be accessed from the Commission Speeches and Public Statements page. Speeches are archived by years; within years, speeches are further broken down by quarter and by commissioners versus staff.
Comments on Proposed Rules The SEC allows comments to be submitted on proposed new rules during prescribed periods. The SEC Releases section of the Spotlight page contains links to some of these rules and comments, including the comments that were made on the VFP.
However, you'll sometimes need to visit the SEC Proposed Rules page, especially if the rules are still open to comment or the period for comments has just closed. The Proposed Rules page is obviously also a good place to find the full text of the rules themselves, should they prove elusive on the Spotlight page. The organization of the page is similar to that for archived speeches. For example, if you scan down the page, you can click 33-8781 to see the rule that extends the VFP to include mutual fund risk/return summary information. To view the comments, click the are available link at right. The page also has convenient submit comments links after each rule, should you want to comment yourself.