Federal agencies use a hodgepodge of incompatible data fields to identify the companies and other entities that report to them. This jungle of entity identifiers
makes life difficult - and expensive - for anyone who uses business information. Investors, watchdogs, government, and the companies themselves must manually match public data filed by the same company with different regulators, or pay for services to do it.
Fortunately, there's hope
. The international, nonproprietary Legal Entity Identifier (LEI) could bring together business information from across the federal government - if agencies decide to start using it to identify companies that report to them. If federal agencies switch from their current incompatible identifiers to the LEI, it will become possible to automatically match all the information a company files with different regulators.
In 2013, the Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC) became the first agency to require companies to obtain an LEI and use the LEI to identify themselves. Other financial regulators have since followed suit.
The federal government took another step toward a fully-connected in September. The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission proposed a new rule
that, if finalized, will require certain types of energy companies to disclose their LEI, if they have already obtained one from a different regulator. In other words, under this proposed rule, if an energy company (or a subsidiary) has already started using an LEI to report to the CFTC, or another agency - it must also use that same LEI in its reports to the FERC.
The FERC is the first non-financial agency to consider joining the LEI network. The Coalition hopes the rule will be approved and the universe of seamless business information - identifiable across agency stovepipes - will continue to grow.