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Wall Street Gets Set for XBRL

Financial sector CIOs, barely through with the hassles of Sarbanes Oxley and the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure (FRCP), are steeling themselves for yet another government-driven technology challenge. (See Top Tips for Compliance and FRCP Tip Sheet.)

The Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) is pushing firms to use the Extensible Business Reporting Language (XBRL) format for their regulatory filings, recently targeting mutual funds as part of this effort. (See SEC Expands Data Program.)

XBRL, a version of XML, builds electronic tags into documents such as spreadsheets, enabling the information to be shared between different organizations. This allows the SEC to transfer firms' data straight into to their own systems, removing the need to reformat important documents.

Cue collective groans from IT managers laboring under a slew of compliance pressures.

"I think that there will be big costs to the enterprise," warned Jim Northey, principal of consulting firm The LaSalle Technology Group during a Web services conference in New York today. "Think of all the pressure there is with Sarbanes Oxley. XBRL is going to distract your IT resources that are already stretched thin."

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