Archive for the ‘Uncategorized’ Category

The DATA Act – What it can do for all Americans

Tuesday, April 19th, 2016

It is no secret that the federal budget is riddled with waste and errors. Tell us something we don’t know.

This fact is the type of thing most Americans have accepted with death and taxes. As our culture grows more cynical, there is an overwhelming sentiment of “There is nothing I can do to change the way things are.”

We must fight against our apathy and use technology to assist us in forging ahead into what we know to be better government and “a more perfect union.”

The DATA Act (Digital Accountability & Transparency Act) is one of the few opportunities we have to change not just some things – but everything about the way the government distributes money. I will be the first to admit that it is a long shot for any government agency to do something efficiently and effectively, but even if they get this legislation half-right it would be a great improvement.

Another piece of potential good news for the DATA act is that it has a very recent, major government implementation process to learn from and improve upon. The process I am referring to is the Securities & Exchange Commission’s implementation of eXtensible Business Reporting Language (XBRL) from 2009-2012.

This SEC action plan for implementation of XBRL into public company filings incorporated a two-year voluntary-filer pilot-program, followed by a gradual phase in of the biggest companies to the smallest public companies from 2009-2012. This roll out allowed both the SEC and small companies to learn from early mistakes and refine the process quickly. The phase-in also allowed for milestones to be achieved with regard to the level of detail in the data.

Where the SEC went wrong is not demanding enough standardization of data-tagging. It allowed for over 15,000 definitions public companies could choose from and also offered companies the ability to create their own customized definitions on top of the 15,000 options. So the reality was “infinite possibilities”. Not so surprisingly, customization was rampant in early XBRL filings and created high “extension rates”, which make it difficult to get apples to apples comparisons. What one company termed as “Sales” another could customize their definition slightly in order to not have their numbers directly compared for fear of looking bad against the competition.

This single point of failure can be avoided in the DATA Act implementation and in future transparency efforts. Minimizing the number of customized ways to say the same thing will increase the accuracy of comparison between municipalities, grant recipients, companies and agencies that receive federal money.

The good people at POGO have put together 10 questions that should be easy enough for even moderate transparency to answer. 

While what is below is an over-simplification of a complex tagging-service process using a complex software product, it will show how it should look to the lay person who wants to know where their tax dollar are getting spent. This way of looking at the data is, in fact, the end goal of transparency. All of us being able to see how the government is spending the money we (the citizens) agree to give.

Question: What small businesses in my community are receiving federal dollars?

How XBRL would allow for easy comparison:

<smallbusinessname>ABC Fictional Company</smallbusinessname>
<federalagencyDoD>Department of Defense</federalagencyDoD>
<intendeduse_militaryfacilityconstruction>Fort Fake Barracks Improvements</intendeduse_militaryfacilityconstruction>




The SEC’s Updated XBRL Viewer – Improvements are Accompanied by Some Bugs

Tuesday, August 11th, 2015

The SEC has updated their XBRL viewer, and in many ways the changes are improvements.  The new XBRL viewer ( was deployed this summer, replacing the previous version (  Additionally, the update was a necessary step with regard to future enhancements the SEC will be making to the viewer.  However, in the short term, this update includes some bugs that we wanted to alert you to. This post will describe the changes the SEC made to their viewer and explain some of the bugs that have come from this update.  We invite you to contact us if you have any questions or if you’d like more specific information.

To put the viewer update in context, it’s important to know that the previous SEC viewer originally was created using the .NET framework over 6 years ago.  However, the SEC’s validation engine (Arelle) was built using a coding framework called Python.  The different programming languages made integrating the two platforms difficult.  Additionally, the .NET framework caused some problems running the renderer on non-Windows machines.

To address these issues, the SEC has built the new viewer using the Python platform so that integration with the Arelle validator is now seamless.  While this does not impact the end user to any significant degree, it helps developers and the SEC a great deal.

Now we will address the bugs that have popped up as a result of this viewer update.

Uncategorized Items

“Uncategorized Facts” are typically only presented as such if the facts are not assigned a specific presentation. The updated viewer is erroneously identifying certain facts as “uncategorized” even when they have been assigned a presentation.  This issue is most commonly tied to US-GAAP concepts that appear on both the Income and Cash Flows Statements.  Apparently, the viewer will place shared facts from the Cash Flows in the “uncategorized” section and ‘forgets’ that those facts were already used on the Income Statement.  This means the viewer did not need to display those facts as uncategorized because they were indeed displayed on the Income Statement.  The new viewer also fails to distinguish between actual uncategorized facts and facts the viewer is choosing not to display.

The SEC is aware of this bug, and we believe it will be addressed with their next Viewer update, but they have not yet provided a timeframe for the correction.

Total Columns

Where the previous viewer displayed a “Total” column only when the presentation was an equity table, the update has caused the viewer to display a “Total” column whenever there are multiple contexts that end on the same date in the same presentation.  This change does allows for tables other than the equity table to render with a “Total” column, but it leads to certain other issues when viewing reports (e.g.: The Document and Entity Information can now render with a “Total” column, or Operations tables may render with two “Total” columns).

We do not yet know if the SEC considers this a bug, or if they will address it with their next Viewer update.


If you have any questions or would like any further detail, please feel free to contact us anytime.

Stewart Walker – SVP, Director of Sales

(415) 643-6017

XBRL Is Back In The Crosshairs — Rep. Hurt Is At It Again

Monday, April 27th, 2015

Despite repeated legislative defeats, Representative Hurt from Virginia’s 5th district has re-introduced legislation to create a two-tier caste system among publicly traded companies.

According to this most recent legislation (which is identical to language that failed to pass in 2014), some companies would continue reporting their quarterly and annual financial information in the XBRL format, as they have since 2011.  Other companies, however, would suddenly be exempt from this requirement, and they would revert back to a reporting standard that was cutting edge in 1996.

As this new legislation—HR 1965—is identical to HR 4164 which was introduced in 2014, you can read our post regarding that legislation for more detail.  However, the main points are the same:

If this poorly considered bill manages to gain passage—either on its own or as an amendment to a larger bill—the partial elimination of the XBRL filing requirement would be deeply damaging to the national standards of public disclosure and financial reporting.  Additionally, the SEC’s ability to discover investor fraud would be unnecessarily and dramatically hamstrung by this bill.  Lastly, and rather ironically even by congressional standards, this bill will be considerably detrimental to the same companies that it is meant to help, because exempting small companies from XBRL reporting will create a permanent underclass of less visible, and undiscoverable investment opportunities.

It’s a bad bill with dubious benefits and destructive consequences.

Feel free to contact me any time.

Stewart Walker – SVP, Director of Sales


The DATA Act Will Vastly Improve the Transparency of Government Spending

Thursday, April 17th, 2014

On April 10th, the United States Senate passed the DATA Act (Digital Accountability & Transparency Act) without objection.  The legislation now returns to the House of Representatives, which approved its version of the bill last November with only one dissenting vote.  The truly bipartisan DATA Act is expected to make it to the President’s desk for signing soon after the Congress returns from recess later this month.

The bill would require the federal government to comply with new standards for financial disclosure that utilize Structured Data technology, and it would ensure that more and better data is published online.  The DATA Act has the potential to usher in a new era of transparency for the U.S. government’s spending of taxpayer dollars.

To date, government spending data has been locked away in archaic form types and inaccessible printed materials.  These previously un-searchable documents were not widely or easily available to the public.  Leveraging the potential of Structured Data will allow this information to be properly searched and analyzed, and with greatly improved transparency the public and private sectors will be able to work together to eliminate wasteful spending and identify fraud.

By creating financial disclosures with standardized, searchable data, the DATA Act is the first step in helping taxpayers and citizens to track where their dollars are actually going.

Research Data Group and RDG Filings applauds the DATA Act’s congressional sponsors and the Data Transparency Coalition for championing this important legislation.

For more information about the bill, please visit the  See more from RDG here.

Contact us.

Stewart Walker – SVP, Director of Sales


The Buried Lede in an Interesting Article from Ensure Your XBRL Data Is of the Highest Quality

Monday, January 6th, 2014

According to an online column on by Nicolas Morgan and Jennifer Feldman, 2014 is a good year to ensure that your XBRL code is of the highest quality. Morgan and Feldman give their column — “No More Mr. Nice Guys: SEC Sharpens Talons for 2014” — a helpful subtitle:

“Don’t be complacent. The recent trough in the SEC’s enforcement of financial-reporting regulations will turn around this year.”

In addition to an alarming title, the article contains a series of warnings that could worry the Officers for any public company. As a result of an increasing “interest in pursuing enforcement of financial reporting regulations,” Morgan and Feldman write that the SEC “will be making more inquiries, analyzing more periodic reports and financial statements, and ultimately filing more lawsuits.”

This redoubled effort by the SEC to detect and prosecute fraud will include the new “Financial Reporting and Audit Task Force,” which was formed in July 2013 by the SEC’s Enforcement Division. This group will consist of “enforcement attorneys and accountants from across the country who will be tasked with identifying financial-statement, issuer-reporting and disclosure violations.”

The article certainly is attention grabbing, but we at RDG want to highlight the aspect of this article that is of immediate value to those companies with nothing fraudulent to hide, but who share the perfectly reasonable desire to stay out of the SEC’s search lights. Happily, this is also a thing that is completely within the control of companies themselves: Taking steps to ensure your XBRL data is of the highest quality.

Almost as an afterthought, Morgan and Feldman write that “one weapon in the task force arsenal is the much-discussed Accounting Quality Model (AQM), colloquially known as RoboCop. The SEC describes AQM as a quantitative analytic ‘model that allows us to discern whether a registrant’s financial statements stick out from the pack.’” What they do not mention, however, is that the RoboCop uses XBRL data as the first line of defense in its search for outliers.

For more helpful insight, we turn to a recent online article for Forbes, in which John Carney and Francesca Harker explain that “because RoboCop is an automated system looking for oddities, it is unable to account for mistakes made. This is particularly important because the AQM relies on the newly-mandated XBRL data which is prone to mistakes by the inexperienced. Sloppy entries could land your company’s filing at the top of the list for close examination.”

For those companies with nothing fraudulent to hide in their books, we like to think of investigation by the Financial Reporting and Audit Task Force as analogous to getting audited by the IRS when your taxes are properly paid but your From 1040 was filled out incorrectly. The IRS will find nothing amiss after the audit, but the process will be awful, time consuming, and expensive. This idea applies to your XBRL data. If your financial statements are in good order, but your XBRL is improperly built, the RoboCop may highlight your company as a candidate for further investigation. By ensuring your XBRL is of the highest quality possible, you can avoid any flag that the Accounting Quality Model RoboCop system might have otherwise raised.

We at RDG can help any SEC Filer who wants to know that their XBRL filings exceed SEC validation requirements, and will be in line with the enhanced standards, protocols, and guidelines already put forward by the FASB, the AICPA, the US-GAAP, XBRL-US, and others.  RDG offers exhaustive XBRL Quality Assurance Services, and we have the knowledge, expertise, and experience to ensure that your XBRL documents are not vulnerable to the AQM-RoboCop and any future analysis tools deployed by the SEC.

Contact us.

Stewart Walker – SVP, Director of Sales


XBRL Data & the SEC’s Enhanced Enforcement Efforts

Wednesday, July 17th, 2013

In line with the rumblings we have heard over the past couple of years from SEC representatives at various XBRL conferences and events, the SEC has recently announced three new initiatives that will expand and improve its Division of Enforcement. The official announcement does not expressly mention XBRL, but it is plainly evident that the advent of this data has given the SEC new abilities to analyze filings and to identify inaccurate or fraudulent financial statements.

The SEC is touting these initiatives—the Financial Reporting and Audit Task, the Microcap Fraud Task Force, and the Center for Risk and Quantitative Analytics—as signaling their “increasingly proactive approach to identifying fraud” and improving their ability to “bring more cases aimed at deterring these types of unlawful activity.” RDG Filings has long been convinced that while the primary purpose of XBRL is for use by analysts at the end of the line, XBRL will also provide the SEC with an unprecedented tool in its enforcement efforts. The SEC says that these new initiatives will make particular use of “analytical techniques and computing capacity with special expertise in data mining.” You can read more about these new initiatives in this article from Compliance Week.

RDG Filings is convinced that while companies participating in fraudulent behavior have new reason to fear the SEC, the real takeaway for all public companies is that with the SEC utilizing XBRL more aggressively to find reporting irregularities, it is all the more important to have your financials accurately prepared by XBRL and compliance experts.
Nobody creates better XBRL than RDG Filings, and no do-it-yourself software can provide your company and your Officers the peace-of-mind they need now that the SEC is using XBRL data in their policing efforts. Contact RDG if you would like more information about our full-service XBRL filing and our XBRL Quality Assurance services.

Want high XBRL Data Quality? Why Full-Service is the Way to Go

Saturday, June 15th, 2013

Having previously worked in an SEC Reporting role, I now specialize in helping my industry peers find Financial Reporting solutions that best fit their organizations. You can count on me to help you navigate any questions you might have as they relate to your SEC Compliance. I’ve helped my clients reduce their SEC Compliance costs without compromising any value to their services. I have developed business relationships with industry leaders in the oil & gas, steel, transportation, biotech, technology, financial, and healthcare sectors. It’s been a pleasure being a part of growing RDG Filings to be the 5th most active filing agent in the industry.

With the end of the limited liability exemption for XBRL, the future of reporting is in increased transparency and validations of your reports. There will be an ongoing need for guidance from XBRL experts. Companies have and will be striving to find a balance between time and cost efficiencies, all the while adhering to all SEC Requirements.

I know firsthand just how incredible RDG Filings is as an XBRL service provider.  RDG provides clients with everything they need to be ready for the future of XBRL: a full-service platform managed by CPA’s who are fluent in the XBRL taxonomy. This platform enables you to create your own customizable timelines and offers fixed pricing. You will automatically receive a two tiered validation on all your reports, guaranteeing that you are following all US GAAP, AICPA, FASB and XBRL Reporting guidelines. On average, we have been saving our clients between 35-90% off of their SEC filing costs and trimming down their wait times between drafts by half. In addition to these metrics, you get to work with a group who was independently surveyed to offer the best customer service in the industry.

A common misconception is that in-house control increases XBRL data quality. This is simply not true. While software gives the illusion of control, without the knowledge and tools to produce high quality XBRL data with proper understanding of the current taxonomy AND the proper methodology for XBRL data construction, it’s similar to expecting a novice driver to race in the Indy 500. Sure, you can do it, but you may not finish the race.

The RDG team’s goal is to help as many organizations as possible achieve the same results as my current clients. – Divya Patel

Feel free to contact our Director of Sales, Stewart Walker, at : 415.643.6017.


Be Practical, Not Scared of XBRL Limited Liability Expiration

Wednesday, June 5th, 2013

Let’s be practical (not afraid) about XBRL Limited Liability expiration

How the Fear Campaign makes it sound:

Some of our competitors are saying: “Once your company’s grace period ends, your XBRL files have the exact same material error liabilities as your traditional EDGAR HTML files….In the event of a misstatement or omission of a material fact in the XBRL files, the company along with its officers and directors can be held legally liable and be subjected to civil and criminal liability.”

The truth in this statement is “Yes, the documents are both deemed “filed” and liability is assumed for errors between the two formats of EDGAR and XBRL. They should match. If a company is attempting to defraud investors, and cannot prove it was an honest mistake (via Quality Assurance and a trail of some kind) then you are in trouble. More than likely, the SEC will issue a comment letter and ask why something is different or tagged in a specific way. The majority of the time, the worst case is an explanatory Correspondence filing or an amended filing explaining the error. While significant and potentially expensive mistakes, the reality is a world apart from “civil or criminal liability.”

Looking through the XBRL industry’s (service & software providers) websites, it is clear that a fear campaign has been the approved method for attracting business. RDG doesn’t believe in taking advantage of being the XBRL experts. Companies should be cautious, yes. However, is instilling fear really necessary? We believe that should be left to the ghosts. First, anyone reading this should note that the same fear campaign was instituted by these same companies when the original XBRL mandate was put into effect. While the task of preparing XBRL is a large one, it is not something to be afraid of. The sky will not fall when limited liability expires, but it is something to prepare for. Proper preparation of your company’s XBRL filing will minimize any impact of more detailed review of XBRL filings by the SEC.

XBRL Quality Assurance – Layman’s Terms

Wednesday, May 22nd, 2013

Layman’s terms of what should be done to assure quality in XBRL filings:

1.  Unless you have years of XBRL tagging and taxonomy expertise in your financial reporting group, a software solution or web filing solution will probably not offer you enough support for quality assurance with regard to the technical and subjective portions of XBRL.

2. There is no one-size-fits-all approach to designing a quality XBRL filing. Regardless of limited liability protection, each company should manage XBRL risks within its risk appetite, define a comprehensive process to identify all the sensitive areas events, and make sure the company utilizes a provider with a clear XBRL quality assurance framework.

3. Since the SEC does not indicate any requirement of audit of XBRL documents, most auditing houses do not provide XBRL tagging services and they are not the experts in taxonomy creation or XBRL creation software.  In fact, the SEC specifically omits auditors from having to offer certification of XBRL documents.

4. Companies need to focus on the quality of their reporting as soon as possible. There should be a full review of the tags used by both automated checks and by a person familiar with your XBRL tagging, and with expertise and understanding of your industry. This person should not be completely objective to the taxonomy creation because there are several ways to present XBRL information depending on the circumstance/situation at hand. Even more confusing to a machine is the fact that each of the variations can be compliant with the SEC.

5. Validate the document for completeness and structure, independently, irrespective of whether the document is built in-house or outsourced to an XBRL service provider/ printers.

6.  Have a communication record between your team and a way of tracking what improvements and changes were made quarter over quarter, and most importantly, why they were made. This is what will matter. From our own experience in this matter, it helps to have a person involved because computers are not good at explaining themselves to a group or the SEC.

7.  In the absence of formal SEC guidance, it is important to establish a policy to assess material XBRL errors and a process to determine whether an amendment filing is required.

8.  If you are planning on maintaining control internally, your company should stay current with the latest approved XBRL taxonomy. Upon each release that has been approved by FASB and the SEC (typically between February and May each year), your team should compare and utilize the newest version to the previous version used and look for areas of improvement.

9. Stay abreast of all FASB guidance, SEC staff observations, regulations and the current AICPA exposure draft on XBRL quality attributes. Avoid last-minute surprises by being aware of the latest developments and best practices from the SEC and XBRL US.

10.  As XBRL reporting standards and taxonomies evolve, monitoring the changes above is crucial to a continued quality assurance in your company’s filing.

Wall Street Journal Article & What XBRL Data Errors Mean to Your Company?

Monday, January 28th, 2013

Here is an article from the WSJ we found very interesting:

The first fact to keep in mind is that the SEC is not getting rid of the XBRL requirement.  XBRL is a real and permanent part of the SEC reporting process.

This WSJ article makes clear that to this point, all the effort, expense, and time that has gone into creating XBRL filings since 2009 has amounted to little more than an exercise in simple SEC compliance, and that the ostensible end-users of XBRL data—investors and analysts—have found little of value in the vast quantities of code.

XBRL is a reality, and it will continue to take a considerable amount of time and some expense.  So instead of muddling along merely complying with this SEC mandate, there is an opportunity for SEC Filers to add some actual value to their XBRL filings.  Companies can choose to have their XBRL documents created by true professionals. XBRL experts can create documents that go way beyond merely satisfying the SEC’s mandates.   If the data is well-built, XBRL actually has the potential to be a value-added expense for companies.  As you can see in this article, investors want to be able to use XBRL, and companies that have well-built XBRL are more likely to get favorable attention from investors.

RDG Filings offers two points of great value for our clients and potential clients:

1)      Our XBRL code is built by CPAs that are XBRL experts. XBRL creation is their primary focus and core competency.  Our XBRL documents are not simply compliant, as we take pains to make the data very clean and as usable to the analysts and investors as possible.  Because the data we create is so well-built, using RDG for XBRL actually has the potential to be a value-added expense for companies.

2)      RDG Filings offers comprehensive XBRL Quality Assurance Solutions that we believe will be of vital importance.  Not only as the limited liability exemption runs out, but also as XBRL become more widely used by investors and analysts, companies doing XBRL in-house or with most any other provider are going to need a very in-depth auditing process that will ensure the accuracy, completeness, and usability of their data for the investors who are the ultimate targets.  XBRL is here to stay; it needs only to be better built.

One last point that is certainly not the least:

The article references an SEC filing company that has been paying nearly $100,000 per year for XBRL tagging and filing.  That amount of cost is absolutely unnecessary.  RDG Filings will add value to your XBRL filings, while diminishing your costs.

Please contact us for more information right away.  Your XBRL Filings should be:

1)      100% SEC compliant.

2)      Highly valuable to the investors and analysts it is designed to help.

3)      A more streamlined aspect of your filing process.

4)      Much more reasonable priced.


– Stewart Walker – SVP, Director RDG Filings