Issued: December 2, 2011
Impact: All US GAAP


In a number of filings, the value of the decimal attribute disagrees with the value of the fact reported.  For example, in a number of cases, values are reported with a higher level of accuracy than the decimal would indicate, such as 123,867,000 with a decimal value of -6.  This means that the number is accurate to a million; however, there is 867,000 also reported.  In this case, the number is probably accurate to a thousand and should have a decimal of -3.  At the opposite end of the spectrum, values are reported to a lower level of accuracy than the decimal would suggest.  For example, a value is reported as 23 with a decimal of 4.  This means that the number could also be written as 23.0000.  The third case is the use of INF, which indicates that the number is infinitely accurate (i.e., it is exact), but the number is clearly rounded.


The decimal attribute should match the accuracy of the fact being reported.  Filers should ensure that they understand the difference between scale and decimals.

In some cases, the same fact will be reported in multiple locations but will be reported with a different scale.  Since the fact is only reported once, the filer should use the decimal that is the highest[1]. For example if a number is reported in millions and thousands, the decimal -3 should be used as opposed to -6.

[1] Highest means with the highest level of precision, not the highest absolute number.  -3 is more precise than -6.