The American Institute of Certified Public Accountants, along with six information technology companies and five large accounting firms, is developing eXtensible Markup Language specification for exchanging financial reports and data. The specification is currently called XFRML, for XML-based Financial Reporting Markup Language.

The organizations are seeking to lower the costs of distributing financial information while improving access. XFRML will be freely licensed and exchanged among various software applications.

In addition to the accountants institute, the working group includes Arthur Andersen, Deloitte & Touche, Ernst & Young, KPMG, PriceWaterhouseCoopers, and several software companies, including Edgar Online and Microsoft Corp.

"We're committed to improving the accessibility of financial information," said Barry Melancon, president and chief executive officer of the 330,000-member accountants institute. "Accounting is the language of business, and XFRML will make it easier to share information expressed in that language by permitting computer applications to understand our vocabulary."

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