At the Bond Buyer's Mid-Atlantic Municipal Market Conference, panelists discussed emerging tech and cyber risk trends affecting municipal governments. Panelists included Liz Sweeney, President of Nutshell Associates; Marc Pfeiffer, Assistant Director at the Bloustein Local Government Research Center; Terry Smith, Chairman & CEO of Smith's Research and Gradings; and moderator Orlie Prince, Senior Credit Officer at Moody's Investors Service.
Liz Sweeney discussed the growing interest in financial reporting data standards for local, state, and federal government reporting. In her view, delivery of financial information in an unstructured document such as a .pdf results in slow and labor intensive data collection by Wall Street analysts, who by necessity largely conduct their analysis with manual processes. The cost of that inefficiency is borne by all who access municipal bond markets. She believes that adoption of a non-proprietary financial reporting data standard such as XBRL could benefit municipal markets by enabling faster, lower cost data acquisition and analysis. Local governments can produce high quality digital data supported by the quality checks and validations embedded in today’s digital financial reporting tools and would benefit by reducing overlapping and duplicative reporting to multiple parties. States could conduct fiscal monitoring of local governments more effectively without manual data collection, and could identify fiscal challenges sooner.