New Report Urges Transparency in Government Data


Open Data Will Improve Access and Visibility in Comprehensive Annual
Financial Reports

WASHINGTON–(BUSINESS WIRE)–#Accounting–Today, the Data
and Workiva
(NYSE:WK) released the report, Transparent
State and Local Financial Reporting: The Case for an Open Data CAFR
which recommends that state and local governments publish Comprehensive
Annual Financial Reports (CAFR) as open data.

The report, which defines open data as information that is presented in
a machine-readable format and easily accessible by the public, makes the
case for improving transparency in government financial reporting.

The report explains how financial reporting professionals first must
work together to define an information model for the content of CAFRs.
Then, they must settle on a data encoding language to implement their
information model. “These two steps will allow the contents of CAFRs to
be captured and published as machine-readable data,” said Dean Ritz,
Senior Director of Digital Reporting Strategy at Workiva, and co-author
of the report.

“Using open data in the electronic report packaging of CAFRs will
increase transparency and accessibility to financial information for
municipalities and their constituents, governing boards and bond
buyers,” added Ritz.

“Modernizing the CAFR process improves the value of government financial
data,” said Martin Vanderploeg, CEO of Workiva. “With our Wdesk
platform, we help a wide variety of government agencies improve data
assurance, increase efficiencies and ease regulatory burdens.”

Key Report Takeaways:

  • Lower borrowing costs for governments: Open data CAFRs will
    create a new collaborative tool for local governments with similar
    financial challenges, increase transparency by enabling quicker public
    access to human- and machine-readable data and decrease bond
    investors’ expenses for assessing creditworthiness, which should lead
    to lower borrowing costs for governments.
  • Reduced reporting burden: Publishing the CAFR as open data
    would allow municipalities to automate the transformation of their
    CAFRs into Popular Annual Financial Reports (PAFR) and other financial
    reports. Open data would also allow downstream users to more easily
    convert CAFR data into a wide variety of related analyses and reports.
  • Increased adoption: State and local governments must overcome
    the first-adopter hurdle before open data CAFRs can become widespread.
    Enactment of the Grant Reporting Efficiency and Agreements
    Transparency (GREAT)
    Act and Financial Transparency Act (FTA)
    would create a critical mass of open data CAFRs necessary to solve the
    first-adopter problem and other related impediments.
  • Tools and models available today: Software tools and
    information models needed to create open data CAFRs are being used in
    corporations and the Federal government. These solutions and
    resources, along with the readily available eXtensible Business
    Reporting Language (XBRL),
    can be applied to CAFRs today.

Read the full report here.

About The Data Foundation
Data Foundation
is the nation’s first industry-focused open data
research organization. Through research, education, and programming, the
Data Foundation supports the publication of government information as
standardized, open data.

About Workiva
Workiva delivers Wdesk, a leading enterprise
cloud platform for data collaboration, reporting and compliance that is
used by thousands of organizations worldwide, including over 75 percent
of the Fortune 500®. Companies of all sizes, state and local
governments and educational institutions use Wdesk to help mitigate
risk, improve productivity and gain confidence in their data-driven
decisions. For more information about Workiva (NYSE:WK), visit

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Claim not confirmed by FORTUNE or TIME INC. FORTUNE® and
FORTUNE 500® are registered trademarks of Time Inc. and are
used under license. FORTUNE and Time Inc. are not affiliated with, and
do not endorse products or services of, Workiva Inc.


Jessica Yabsley
Data Foundation

Workiva Inc.


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