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Wednesday, March 01, 2006

Meta-Mania

"The federal government has a hard time keeping track of its money -- especially money that goes from one agency to another. In fact, agencies often can't agree on how many dollars they transfer among themselves. Year after year, the Government Accountability Office declares intragovernmental transactions a material weakness in its annual assessment of federal finances.

This is one reason Samuel Mok, chief financial officer for the Labor Department, wants his colleagues to adopt a standardized way of exchanging financial data. It's called Extensible Business Reporting Language (XBRL), and now is the time to initiate it, Mok urges. Many federal agencies are updating their financial systems, so they're well-positioned to adopt new technologies. But Mok recognizes that educating people about XBRL's benefits can be difficult. 'It's not a software, it's not a hardware, it's not a programming language; it's a new concept,' he says."

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