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Wednesday, November 19, 2008

AGA Research Study Sees Bright Future for XBRL Use in State/Local Governments

Research studied the creation of XBRL-enchanced CAFR Statements in the state of Oregon

Alexandria, VA (November 19, 2008) - Using XBRL (short for eXtensible Business Reporting Language) in public sector financial reporting is the subject of a research study, released in September 2008 by the Association of Government Accountants (AGA).

This report entitled, XBRL and Public Sector Financial Reporting: Standardized Business Reporting: the Oregon CAFR Project, studied the feasibility of developing and using an XBRL taxonomy to tag data in a state's Comprehensive Annual Financial Report (CAFR). It is the first actual pilot implementation of XBRL in the governmental sector.

AGA's research team built a taxonomy that tagged two statements in the Oregon CAFR: the Statement of Activities and the Statement of Net Assets. The taxonomy was used to reproduce an instance document with tagged data. The data was then rendered (reproduced) in the form of the original statements. The taxonomy included 150 Governmental Accounting Standards Board (GASB)-compliant tagged data elements.

The report describes the research effort, provides a brief technical overview of XBRL, and contains graphics demonstrating the processes of converting the CAFR data into XBRL, creating the instance document and rendering the instance document into a readable conventional file format.

The significant findings of the research were that:

1) A CAFR taxonomy for all states would have to be at a relatively high level since line items (at least by title) are likely to vary considerably among the states.
2) There are good reasons for looking at XBRL to improve the handling, exchange and reporting of public sector financial information.
3) There is a tremendous opportunity for more research in this area and an even greater opportunity for improved municipal reporting.

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