Unisys wins bank data repository contract

Unisys Corp. won a 10-year, $39 million contract to create a central data repository for quarterly financial reports from the nation's banks, said Don Powell, chairman of the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp.

Powell made the announcement today in a speech before industry and government representatives in Washington.

Under the contract, Blue Bell, Pa., Unisys will also build a Web portal through which agencies will submit their reports and federal agencies will access that data.

The data will be reported in XBRL, extensible business reporting language, said David Hoffman, Unisys' partner in charge of the project. XBRL, a subset of XML, or extensible markup language, is a standard business reporting language that simplifies the exchange of information between computer systems and allows analysts and accountants to use the information various ways without having to recreate reports.

"XBRL offers great promise for simplifying financial and regulatory reporting, increasing transparency and improving timeliness" of data, said David McClure, vice president for e-government at the Council for Excellence in Government, a Washington nonprofit, nonpartisan group that works to improve government performance.

The contract was awarded by the Federal Financial Examinations Council, which prescribes uniform principles, standards and report forms for the federal examination of financial institutions. The work is part of a project spearheaded by FDIC to modernize the collection of bank data, known as Call Report processing. Unisys' work will replace a process on which U.S. banking agencies collectively would spend about $65 million over the next 10 years, according to FDIC.

The contract has an initial term of seven years and is worth approximately $28 million; the FDIC can extend it for three additional one-year periods and order optional technical requirements. If the FDIC exercises all options and extensions, the contract will be worth $39 million, according to Unisys.

Call Report data, supplied by banking institutions nationwide, helps FDIC monitor the health of those institutions, but under the current system, the data is typically two months old by the time it is collected and analyzed, making it obsolete, Powell said.

"I don't have an adjective to describe how bad [the reports] are," he said.

The Unisys project will help speed the collection and analysis process, Powell said.

As Unisys develops the data repository and rolls out pilot projects over the next 18 months, FDIC, the Federal Reserve Board and the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency will work with industry to define data standards, streamline the collection and validation of the call report data and prepare for the full rollout of the new data repository. The first reports are expected to be filed under the new system in September 2004, Powell said.

Subcontractors to Unisys under the contract include Microsoft Corp., PricewaterhouseCoopers and Edgar Online Inc., Powell said.

The project is a classic e-government initiative that will allow sharing of information among government agencies and with industry, said Thomas Bonina, Unisys' project manager on the contract.

"It's all about simplifying and unifying information," he said.

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