Transparency and compliance . . . US Congress votes on financial oversight, and the OECD unveils ideas for new see-through fina

Today the US House of Representatives will vote on a bill bringing broad changes to financial regulations, which most experts expect will pass, pushing matter to the Senate.

As the debate continues between what’s best for businesses and consumers as we look for economic recovery, a few of the amendments expected to come to a vote today involve the creation of a new consumer financial protection agency, a Sarbanes Oxley exemption for small firms, and new power for the Government Accountability Office to audit the Federal Reserve.

While this debate is going on, the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development released a framework last week to guide policymakers in the reform of international financial markets. According to the announcement, “Increasing transparency is key. The complexity and opaqueness of products made risk assessment difficult for firms and investors and hindered market transparency, a major cause of the crisis.”

The framework’s explanation of the financial landscape includes principles for 1) A definition of the financial system, 2) Transparency, and 3) Surveillance and analysis. Responsibilities for the collection and distribution of relevant data are described for government authorities, industry groups, and international organizations.  These principles mirror the focus of other potential regulatory changes and will have a substantial impact in the way organizations document and track a wide range of business processes and transactions if they are carried out in legislation.

I co-authored a Forrester report last quarter with my colleague Craig Le Clair entitled “Transparency Is The Next Step In Compliance . . . Bring On Enterprise Content Management.” In this report, we discuss several trends in global regulations and give examples of how companies are using technologies in categories such as ECM and GRC to improve compliance through increased transparency. It’s worth considering how current IT initiatives may support these future requirements for transparency, which could place a very difficult burden on unprepared businesses.