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Blog – Inline Support at the SEC: Just a Matter of (2014) Time

iXBRL RFPTaking a page from the “let’s not make Friday the only fun day of the week” playbook, the SEC yesterday released a request for proposal (RFP) regarding introducing support of Inline XBRL as part of its Interactive Data mandate.  Details of the RFP can be found on FedBizOpps with tactical highlights being as follows:

  1. Responses due by August 14, 2013
  2. Firm fixed priced (FFP)
  3. Three primary phases: 18-month initial design/development/implement phase, 6 month support phase, two optional support phases (maximum of 4 1-year periods)
  4. Resulting code/functionality to be made available to the market via an open source license

At the heart of the RFP is the creation of both back-end (validation and integration) and front-end (web browser plug-in) functionality in support of Inline XBRL.  Inline XBRL is a relatively “new” feature of XBRL that combines both the XBRL instance document and HTML content information in a single file (see the visual included in “Step 2” on this XBRL International page.  This technology was finalized AFTER the SEC was already well down the path of preparing and rolling out initial details around the Interactive Data mandate but WASS available in time for the UK government to base its Companies House and Revenue and Customs XBRL filing programs on Inline XBRL (or “iXBRL” as they call it) which now totals over 3 million XBRL submissions based on this technology.

Blake’s Take:  While anything can happen during the RFP’s initial phase, the message is clear: The SEC wants to have someone help them design, build, test and implement Inline XBRL technology for use as part of the mandate and be ready to launch within 18 months.  Unlike the “rapid fire” initial SEC Previewer (XBRL viewer on the SEC web site project that went from design to implementation in well under a year, the SEC is going to take a bit more time and get both back-end and front-end functionality in place to make Inline XBRL a part of its mandate.  As a result, this clearly puts Inline XBRL support at the SEC on a mid- to late-2014 trajectory for at least the start of a pilot phase if not the start of the mandate requirement itself.

Could this be the beginning of Interactive Data 2.0 at the SEC?  Will implementing Inline XBRL start the sunset process for EDGAR?  Does Inline XBRL mean more work for preparers?  What does RoboCop have to say about this?  So many questions, so little time.  More to come.