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February 10, 2011

[misc] The US GAAP Taxonomy is Miscellaneous

Well, here’s an application of some of the ideas in Everything is Miscellaneous that I wasn’t expecting: The US GAAP Taxonomy. A post at the XBRL Business Information Exchange says:

The US GAAP Taxonomy was built by the accounting standards setter, the FASB. It was built by accountants. It is a consensus-based product. Not one SEC XBRL filer uses the US GAAP Taxonomy as is to file with the SEC. Every SEC reorganizes the US GAAP Taxonomy.

But the US GAAP Taxonomy is not built to be reorganized. The structure of the taxonomy is more like a book. Can the US GAAP Taxonomy be reorganized? Of course it can. But it is certainly not optimized to allow for reorganization and reorganization is not even mentioned in the design characteristics. As such, it will cost more and be harder to create and maintain these reorganizations.

So how do you make it easier to reorganize? Many smaller pieces which can be put together as needed is vastly easier for a computer to deal with than having one large piece and trying to break that piece apart. That is one example of what can be done. Another is communicating the metadata which exists in the taxonomy, for example the information modeling patterns employed. A third is to make the existing metadata real metadata, rather than burying it in the labels of the concepts. Another is to add more metadata.

The post points out that it’s not that everything about that taxonomy should thrown into a big pile. There are key data points required by law and to achieve financial integrity. Still, this is not a place I would have thought miscellanizing would help. It seems, however, that I may well be happily wrong.

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