TMCNet:  SEC Chief Economist Offers Insight Into XBRL Data Tools Designed to Discover Accounting Anomalies and Improve Financial Disclosures

[April 16, 2013]

SEC Chief Economist Offers Insight Into XBRL Data Tools Designed to Discover Accounting Anomalies and Improve Financial Disclosures

ST. PAUL, Minn. --(Business Wire)--

Focus on the accuracy and quality of your data because the SEC is moving ahead with the plan to use XBRL for regulatory review. That's the message from Craig M. Lewis, the SEC's chief economist, to public companies in meeting their XBRL compliance requirements, based on an interview in the April 2013 edition of Dimensions, a newsletter for legal, financial and corporate compliance professionals published by Merrill Corporation (, a leading global provider of technology-enabled services for the financial, legal, health care, real estate and other corporate markets.

In the interview, Lewis, the Director and Chief Economist of the Division of Risk, Strategy and Financial Innovation with the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), speaking on his own behalf, outlines the value of XBRL data that allows the SEC, investors, analysts, the media and other stakeholders to compare and analyze public company financial data instantly. In addition, Lewis offers insight about the predictive accounting quality model being developed by the SEC.

"It is a fully automated system that effectively takes a firm's filing the day it comes in, processes it, and then keeps it in the [SEC's] database so that somebody who is interested in looking at a report on that company would be able to do so within 24 ours of the filing being posted on EDGAR," says Lewis, who was named to his current position in May 2011.

"The Craig Lewis interview offers incredible insight into how XBRL is evolving and answers the question of many SEC filers: 'Is anyone ever going to use this XBRL data '" notes Mike Schlanger, Vice President of XBRL Business Development and Strategy for Merrill Corporation. "Mr. Lewis' comments demonstrate that the SEC is using XBRL data to enhance its review process and is committed to building new tools in the future. The bottom line: XBRL is not going away; quality and accuracy do matter; and as Craig Lewis stresses in his Dimensions interview, larger public companies now carry the same liability for their XBRL data as they do with their EDGAR filings."

"One of the main obstacles to the SEC's vision," Schlanger adds, "is the continued occurrence of errors in a registrant's XBRL filings. The SEC has published multiple Staff Observations informing filers of the errors with which they are most concerned. However, many filers remain unaware of how these errors can make their way into their filing. Outside experts, such as Merrill's XBRL CPA team, are dedicated to helping public companies close this knowledge gap to ensure they have the requisite knowledge to verify the accuracy of their XBRL files."

About Dimensions

Dimensions ( is published by St. Paul-based Merrill Corporation for legal, financial and corporate compliance professionals, offering insights and in-depth information related to financial compliance filing and corporate transactions. The newsletter is available free of charge to professionals at Dimensions/April 2013.

About Merrill Corporation

Founded in 1968 and headquartered in St. Paul, Minn., Merrill Corporation ( is a leading provider of solutions for complex business communication and information management. We serve the legal, financial services, health sciences, insurance and real estate industries with document and data management, litigation support, language translation services, branded communication programs, fulfillment, imaging and printing. Our unmatched proprietary technologies and more than 5,000 people in locations around the world empower the communications of the world's leading companies.

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