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The Financial Transparency Act of 2015 Has Been Introduced

MFG Archive

Our latest article from the Data Transparency Coalition looks at the Financial Transparency Act, which promises Open Data across financial regulation.

CURATOR’S NOTE: Many thanks to Hudson Hollister and the Data Transparency Coalition for this contribution. For more on this landmark legislation, follow @DataCoalition and visit the Data Transparency Coalition’s Financial Transparency Act page.

Reps. Darrell Issa (R-CA), Ralph Abraham (R-LA), and Jared Polis (D-CO) held a press conference three weeks ago to announce the introduction of the Financial Transparency Act of 2015 – the farthest-reaching open data legislation since the passage of the DATA Act last year.

The Financial Transparency Act aims to transform U.S. financial regulatory reporting from disconnected documents into open, searchable data. The bill would require federal financial regulators to adopt consistent data standards for information they collect under the securities, commodities, and banking laws.

The following Members of the House joined Issa, Abraham, and Polis as original cosponsors: Mike Quigley (D-IL), Randy Hultgren (R-IL), Patrick McHenry (R-NC), Carolyn Maloney (D-NY), Keith Ellison (D-MN),  John Delaney (D-MD), and David Schweikert (R-AZ). Hultgren, McHenry, Maloney, Ellison, Delaney, and Schweikert are all members of the House Financial Services Committee, which will have jurisdiction to consider most of the bill.

“The Financial Transparency Act aims to transform U.S. financial regulatory reporting from disconnected documents into open, searchable data. “

The introduction of the Financial Transparency Act helps the Coalition fulfill one of the three major pillars of its 2015 policy agenda. The Data Transparency Agenda calls for legislation to open up financial regulatory data through consistent data standards.

The bill directs the Treasury Department’s Office of Financial Research to set data standards, including a common identification code for regulated entities, for the whole financial regulatory sector. It also directs the eight other agency members of the Financial Stability Oversight Council, including the Securities and Exchange Commission and Commodity Futures Trading Commission, to adopt data standards for the regulatory information they collect, and to follow the OFR’s lead where applicable.

For all information required by other laws to be made public, the bill directs each agency to publish such information as open data – machine-readable and freely downloadable.

Open data helps investors, regulators, and the financial industry. The companies of the Data Transparency Coalition are ready to republish financial information for investors; analyze it to help regulators find leverage and fraud; and automate reporting to ease compliance costs for regulated entities. All these opportunities depend on the agencies’ mandate to standardize and publish the information as open data – a mandate to be provided, for the first time, by the Financial Transparency Act of 2015.