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FDIC To Deploy XBRL

The promise of XML to help streamline and expand the collection and sharing of data is arriving at a federal financial institution that ensures the soundness of many of the nation's banks.

The FDIC (Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation) recently awarded a $39 million outsourcing contract Unisys to help build XBRL (extensible business reporting language), an XML-based framework for publishing financial results, into its data reporting platform.

The XBRL standard, which is gaining widespread adoption, uses tags based on standardized accounting industry definitions to describe and identify financial information items. The standard promises better search capabilities and makes financial information more consistent and accessible without requiring companies to change the way they report financial results.

The contract calls for Unisys to build a platform that enables Internet delivery of data and relies on the XBRL format.

Other companies that will be working on the Unisys development team include Microsoft, PricewaterhouseCoopers, IDOM, EDGAR Online, UBMatrix, and V-Tech Solutions.

The contract represents what the Federal Financial Institutions Examination Council (FFIEC) called "the first step in an interagency effort to modernize and streamline how federal bank regulators collect, process and distribute quarterly bank financial reports."

The FDIC is responsible for collecting data from the nation's banks regarding about loan loss reserves, which is then transmitted to the financial services industry as a snapshot on banks' exposure to its borrowers.

The agency has been moving to streamline its data collection process, which is part of the effort behind the movement in the financial services industry to adopt the XBRL reporting language.

The contract awarded to Unisys on behalf of the FDIC's represents yet another step closer to the agency's goals of streamlining its data collection and dissemination efforts. It also puts the FDIC, and by extension, the financial services firms that use its data, in the growing number of companies and agencies that have adopted the schema of the XBRL reporting language.

Officials involved with the contract said the new business process using XBRL is expected to be phased in through 2004. The effort is expected to encompass the collection, editing, and access of quarterly bank financial reports into a central data repository. It will also be accessible by banking regulators, financial institutions, and the public, the agency said.

The FDIC said initial system development and pilot projects will take place over the next 18 months. During that time the FDIC, Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System and Office of the Comptroller of the Currency are expected to work with the financial services industry to define data standards, streamline the collection and validation of the data, and prepare for the rollout of the new central data repository. The first reports are expected to be filed under the new system effective with the September 2004 Call Report.

The 10-year, fixed price contract of $39 million includes short-term systems development costs and long-term operating costs.