New bipartisan bill promises better financial data

Darrell Issa. (Photo credit: Darrell Issa/Flickr)

Earlier this afternoon, Reps. Darrell Issa, R-Calif., Jared Polis, D-Colo., and Mike Quigley, D-Ill., announced the Financial Transparency Act of 2015. The bipartisan bill would help bring a modern data approach — much like that previously championed by Issa in the DATA Act — to financial regulatory information.

The bill requires financial regulatory agencies to adopt modern standards for the information that they collect, moving many of these agencies from paper systems to modern, standardized data reporting. The bill also requires information made public by these agencies be put out in open, searchable formats.

Various provisions of the bill touch on the Office of Financial Research, the Securities and Exchange Commission, the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation, the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency, the Bureau of Consumer Financial Protection, the Federal Reserve System, the Commodity Futures Trading Commission, the National Credit Union Administration and the Federal Housing Finance Agency. It should make all of these organizations more transparent and more functional for both internal and external stakeholders while reducing reliance on outdated paper disclosures.

It many also prove useful at more than just the federal level. One section applies to the Municipal Securities Rulemaking Board, directing it to “adopt a standard data format in which a municipality would have to submit their financial information.” The potential advantages of this approach are outlined in a recent article in Governing.

We’re happy to see Congress continuing to take the lead on issues of data quality — while the executive has been slow to adapt — and are hopeful that this bill will make financial regulatory information more transparent and more useful to stakeholders inside and outside government.