Washington, D.C. – -Today the House of Representatives approved a financial services package bill that contained a setback for open data reporting at the Securities and Exchange Commission. Rep. Robert Hurt’s Small Company Disclosure Simplification Act, included within the Encouraging Employee Ownership Act of 2015 (H.R. 1675), would require the SEC to exempt most public companies from reporting their financial statements in the eXtensible Business Reporting Language (XBRL) format.
“If H.R 1675, with the Small Company Disclosure Simplification Act within it, becomes law, the SEC will be forced to collect most companies’ financial statements as outdated documents,” said Hudson Hollister, executive director of the Data Coalition. “Rep. Hurt and other supporters are quite correct that the SEC has not managed the open data reporting requirement effectively – but the proper response is to fix the quality of the data, not go back to documents.”
For the first time, the House allowed supporters of open data reporting to offer amendments. An amendment offered by Rep. Darrell Issa to reduce the scope of the Small Company Disclosure Simplification Act to exempt only newly-public companies failed by a narrow 221-194 margin, with scores of Democrats and 21 Republicans breaking ranks with Rep. Hurt to join the Issa amendment and support open data reporting. An amendment offered by Reps. Keith Ellison, Carolyn Maloney, Jared Polis, and Michael Quigley to entirely remove the Small Company Disclosure Simplification Act from the package bill failed by a wider 247-173 tally.
“We commend Reps. Darrell Issa and Keith Ellison for offering amendments to preserve open data reporting at the SEC,” said Hollister. “In January 2015, last time the Small Company Disclosure Simplification Act came before the House of Representatives, we had only one Republican vote in favor of open data reporting. This time we had 21. Next time we’ll win.”
As the amendments were under debate, the White House announced that President Obama would veto the bill if passed by the Senate: “Open data disclosure systems benefit investors, issuers, and the public, increasing transparency of publicly traded companies by making their filings more easily accessible. Impeding regulators’ ability to use 21st century technological tools to regulate markets and protect investors is contrary to the SEC’s mission.”
About the Data Coalition
The Data Coalition advocates on behalf of the private sector and the public interest for the publication of government information as standardized, open data. Open data enhances accountability, improves government management, reduces compliance costs, and stimulates innovation. Representing a cross-section of the technology industry, the Coalition’s membership includes market leaders such as Workiva, RR Donnelley, Booz Allen Hamilton, and CGI Federal and growing start-ups such as idaciti and CBeyonData. For more information, visit datacoalition.org.