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U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission


Spotlight On:
Interactive Data Electronic Applications (IDEA)

SEC Chairman Christopher Cox has unveiled the successor to the agency’s 1980s-era EDGAR database. The new system, called IDEA (Interactive Data Electronic Applications), will give investors faster and easier access to key financial information about public companies and mutual funds.

IDEA will at first supplement and then eventually replace the EDGAR system, which will become an archive of SEC filings made prior to the new era of financial reporting in interactive data format. The SEC has formally proposed requiring U.S. companies to provide financial information using interactive data beginning as early as next year, and separately has proposed requiring mutual funds to submit their public filings using interactive data.

The decision to replace EDGAR marks the SEC’s transition from collecting government-prescribed forms and documents to making the information itself freely available to investors in a user-friendly format they can readily use. Instead of sifting through one form at a time in EDGAR and then re-keyboarding the information to analyze it, investors will be able to utilize interactive data to instantly search and collate information to generate reports and analysis from thousands of companies and forms through IDEA.

The ease with which interactive data will make financial information more readily available also is expected to generate many new Web-based services and products for investors. IDEA’s launch represents a fundamental change in the way the SEC collects and publishes company and fund information – and in the way that investors and the markets will be able to use it.

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Modified: 09/11/2008