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In this issue:
  • Will the new Congress support data transparency?
     
  • The SEC makes some big commitments to open data.
     
  • New speaker announced for Data Transparency Breakfast.
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Republicans Took the Senate. What's Ahead for U.S. Data Transparency?
 
On November 4th, the country elected a new Republican majority in the U.S. Senate, giving the party majorities in both houses of Congress. The new 114th Congress will be seated in January 2015. Many observers are calling this a sea change for Congress but what does it mean for the open data community?
 
For supporters of data standards and data publication for the U.S. federal government, unified control of Congress presents exciting new opportunities and also, in the case of financial regulation, new concerns.
 
Over the last several years, House Republicans have been friendly to data transparency. Chairman Darrell Issa (R-CA) of the House Oversight Committee had strong support from House leadership, including Speaker John Boehner, for his Digital Accountability and Transparency Act (DATA Act), which the House approved twice before the Democratic Senate finally followed suit last April. Speaker Boehner also pioneered data transparency for the House's own information, including XML standards and bulk downloads for legislative materials.
 
If the new Republican leadership of the Senate follows the lead of their House colleagues, supporters of data transparency can be optimistic that they will support data transparency in federal spending--through full implementation of the now-enacted DATA Act--and for legislative materials.
 
But many data transparency issues fall into the jurisdictions of the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform and the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee (HSGAC). The leadership of both committees will be changing, likely as early as next week. In the House, Chairman Issa, a longtime champion of data transparency in both federal spending and financial regulation, will step down from the Oversight committee due to term limits. Ranking Member Elijah Cummings (D-MD), who fully supported Chairman Issa's data transparency initiatives despite their disagreements on other issues, will remain the ranking member.
 
The Senate will see even more change. Sen. Tom Coburn (R-OK), the HSGAC's current ranking member, who would have been in line to chair the committee, is retiring. Another Republican Senator will become chairman. Current chairman Tom Carper (D-DE) may choose to remain as ranking member or may decide to leave the committee but that is not yet known.
 
With so much change in the leadership of the key committees, advocates of data transparency will need to quickly engage in order to encourage support for further data transparency legislation to build on the DATA Act and open up additional areas of federal information. Fortunately, since many key staff members may remain part of both committees' teams, the new leaders will not be starting from scratch.
 
Republican control of the Senate presents a possible threat to data transparency in financial regulation though. Despite the Coalition's objections and opposition by other transparency organizations, last March the Republican-led House Financial Services committee supported, and the full House later passed, Rep. Robert Hurt's proposal to require the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) to stop collecting open data financial information from 61 percent of public companies and regress to collecting unstructured documents only. With Republicans assuming leadership of the Senate Banking Committee, closer cooperation between the House and Senate on financial regulation is expected. Unless advocates of data transparency are able to educate key Republican members of the Senate Banking Committee and their staffs, the Banking Committee may accept Rep. Hurt's anti-transparency proposal with little second-guessing.

We'll be sharing our reactions to the committee announcements on Facebook and Twitter. Follow us to get the latest!
Speaker Announced For Data Transparency Breakfast
 
December 8 - Federal Financial Management and the DATA Act

Sheila Conley, deputy CFO, Department of Health and Human Services
Read her bio here!

Register Now!

SEC Incorporates Coalition’s Views in New Strategic Plan, Aims for Data Transformation

 
For years following the Securities and Exchange Commission’s (SEC) 2009 adoption of the eXtensible Business Reporting Language (XBRL) open data format for corporate financial statements, the agency remained mum about its intentions for the rest of corporate disclosure. The SEC still collects most regulatory information as documents, not as data. Investors, companies, and markets do not know whether the agency intends to transform its whole disclosure system into open data.
 
In an apparent response to the Coalition’s advocacy for data standards and data publication, the SEC is now embracing the need for transformation.
 
In February, the SEC released its Draft Strategic Plan for fiscal years 2014 to 2018. The draft laid out the agency’s mission, planned initiatives, and performance goals. It outlined a framework of strategic objectives for the five-year period.
 
Our Coalition criticized the draft plan for not fully embracing the transformation from documents into open data. In March the Coalition submitted a formal comment to the SEC, detailing the crucial role data standards and data publication must play in order for the agency to modernize its disclosure system and realize the overarching goals set forth in the draft strategic plan.
 
The SEC responded to the Coalition’s recommendations.

For the details of the SEC Strategic Plan, please visit our blog for the rest of the article.
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RDG Filings and its parent company Research Data Group, is a leading SEC compliance company providing full-service XBRL tagging, EDGAR conversion, financial printing, press releases, IR web-hosting, long-term incentive plan metrics, and total return performance data to over 1500 public companies across all industries.  With over 20 years’ experience, RDG provides an unparalleled commitment to customer service with 24/7 availability.  Within the XBRL community, RDG is widely recognized for creating code that is of the highest standards for compliance, quality, and usability.  RDG is proud to be an executive member of the Data Transparency Coalition and to support their advocacy for structured data.
 
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About Us

The Data Transparency Coalition advocates on behalf of the private sector and the public interest for the publication of government information as standardized, machine-readable data. Data transparency strengthens democratic accountability, enhances government management, reduces compliance costs, and stimulates innovation.
Copyright © 2014 Data Coalition, All rights reserved.


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