Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Idea, Hub, Phoenix and Radar --- and New Info on SEC's 21CDI

If we were playing Jeopardy, and I said “Idea, Hub, Phoenix and Radar,” and you said, “What are the names of the SEC’s four new tech initiatives?” you’d be right. Read more about these terms, and find out about an update posted yesterday by the SEC on its 21st Century Disclosure Initiative below.

One of the earliest cites to HUB and Phoenix were in SEC Chairman Christopher Cox’ remarks at PLI’s SEC Speaks conference in February this year. Next, the Idea of IDEA, or Interactive Data, Electronic Application, was announced at a press conference on Aug. 19. IDEA was described as a filing system that would be based on interactive (rather than static) data, and would one day replace the Edgar filing system. (See our Aug. 19 post.) The other terms described by Cox on Aug. 19 were: HUB is the SEC’s new enforcement case tracking system, PHOENIX is the SEC’s new system “that helps us track and distribute billions of dollars to injured investors,” and RADAR “is the SEC’s “state of the art risk analysis system.” You can see logos for all four terms in the IDEA ‘style guide’ (Visual Entity Guidelines) posted on SEC’s website Sept. 11. The shared tagline for the 4 logos is: “Better Data, Stronger Markets.”

IDEA was described by Cox on Aug. 19 as ‘the flagship in our fleet of new enterprise software.” A patch of rough sailing may be ahead if a firm called Caseware follows through on its threat to potentially sue the SEC for trademark infringement on use of the name “Idea”, as recently reported in and accountingweb. (Here is Caseware’s statement.) Dominic Jones of IR Web Report included a link to SEC’s application filed with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) in his post: “Software firm ‘dumbfounded’ by SEC’s use of its IDEA trademark.” He notes the info was provided by SEC Spokesman John Heine, who pointed out the USPTO stated: “The Office records have been searched and there are no similar registered or pending marks that would bar registration under Trademark Act Section 2(d), 15 U.S.C. §1052(d). TMEP §704.02.”SEC Posts New Info on its 21st Century Disclosure Initiative

In other SEC news, starting with their newly revamped homepage, there is a bit more visibility now of the Spotlight pages which gather information on a number of special topics. New at the top of the list is the 21st Century Disclosure Initiative (I’ll call it 21 CDI).
A number of key documents relating to 21CDI were posted by the SEC yesterday (Sept. 16), including the 21CDI
Strategic Plan, 21 CDI FAQs, and a brief blurb about the previously announced Oct. 8 roundtable on the 21CDI. According to the strategic plan, 21CDI will be conducted in 3 phases: (1) the staff of the Commission, led by Bill Lutz, Ph.D., J.D., will prepare by December 31, 2008, a high-level plan to help the Commission to make the transition to an interactive company file system. (2) the Commission will be asked to establish a Federal Advisory Committee [FACA] in early 2009. The Advisory Committee would review our plan and make recommendations to the Commission for implementing it. (3) in the final, multi-year phase, the Commission would consider and begin acting on the Advisory Committee's recommendations, engaging the Commission's normal notice and comment rulemaking process.

The core proposal at the heart of the 21CDI is described in the above documents as “A Company File System,” described by the SEC as: “A company file system would collect core information about a company or fund in a centrally and logically organized interactive data file. Companies would supplement that information with the current, periodic and transactional information that is currently required by Commission disclosure regulations.” Further details can be found in the 21CDI docs linked above.

Idea Postscript: A highly credible source sent me a comment recently saying I guessed wrong in my original Aug. 19 post on IDEA, as to who did the voiceover on the IDEA video intro that pops up when you click on IDEA on the SEC website; the correct answer, they said, is Ethiopis Tafara, Director of SEC’s Office of International Affairs. This seems fitting, since the term ‘convergence’ employs some aspects of convergence of technologies, accounting standards (e.g. IFRS and U.S. GAAP), and XBRL taxonomies (e.g., the taxonomies issued by XBRL-US and XBRL-International).

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