Chapter

4. Metadata and the Dissemination Standards Bulletin Board

Author(s):
International Monetary Fund
Published Date:
July 2007
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Introduction

4.1 Metadata, in English, for countries participating in the GDDS are posted on the DSBB, which is maintained by the IMF as a service to the membership. The DSBB provides wide and easy access to detailed descriptions of country practices and facilitates tracking of the improvements that participating countries make in each of the four dimensions of the GDDS.

4.2 IMF staff are available to assist participating countries in preparing and finalizing the metadata, either through e-mail correspondence, through staff visits to groups of countries or, in some cases, to individual countries. Countries are also urged to look to the metadata that are already posted on the DSBB to guide them in the early preparation of their own metadata.

4.3 Management of metadata by participating countries is an ongoing exercise to ensure its accuracy. Whenever statistical practices change, or a plan for improvement is implemented or modified, this information should be provided as soon as possible to the IMF’s Data Dissemination Standards Division for posting on the DSBB. Moreover, to ensure the credibility of the information shown on the DSBB, participating countries should thoroughly review and, where necessary, revise the metadata at least once a year.

4.4 A set of three tables has been developed to assist in the preparation of metadata.1 Two of the tables relate to the data and quality dimensions of the System while the third focuses on the access and integrity dimensions. These tables correspond to Sections A to C of Table 3.1, “Data Dimension of the GDDS,” but provide more detail. The first table (Table A) relates to comprehensive frameworks, the second (Table B) to data categories and indicators, and the third (Table C) to integrity and access by the public.

The purpose of these tables is to ensure that there is some uniformity in the approaches taken to the preparation of metadata across and within countries.

4.5 To integrate and streamline the IMF data standards initiative with the surveillance and technical assistance work of the IMF Statistics Department, the IMF Executive Board has endorsed the presentation of GDDS countries’ metadata in the format of the DQAF (Data Quality Assessment Framework). The DQAF encompasses several dimensions, elements, and indicators, providing a systematic structure for presenting metadata (see Table D). The DQAF is used in the Statistics Department’s work on the data module of the Report on the Observance of Standards and Codes (ROSC), and in technical assistance.

Table A: Comprehensive Frameworks

4.6 Metadata should be developed for the four core frameworks (see Table 3.1, Section A) covered by the GDDS. In the case of central government operations—the core framework for the fiscal sector—separate metadata should be prepared for transactions and for debt since the underlying bases for these data sets often differ markedly.

4.7 There is provision at the beginning of Table A for the identification of the country to which the metadata relate, the sector concerned, the relevant core framework, and information on the contact person. For each core framework, the metadata should cover the following seven topics: (i) analytical framework, concepts, definitions, and classifications; (ii) scope of the data; (iii) accounting conventions; (iv) nature of the basic data sources; (v) compilation practices; (vi) other aspects; and (vii) plans for improvement.

4.8 Participating countries may choose to provide separate metadata for the encouraged extensions (relating to general government or public sector operations and the IIP) or to integrate these metadata with those for the corresponding core framework.

Table B: Data Categories, Core Indicators, Basic Concepts, and Sociodemographic Data

4.9 Metadata relating to core indicators (see Table 3.1, Section B) should be prepared in accordance with the formats suggested in Table B. The information requested in Table B relates to the following four topics: (i) data characteristics (coverage, periodicity, and timeliness); (ii) quality (documentation of methodology and data to support cross-checks and provide an assurance of reasonableness); (iii) plans for improvement, including needs for technical and other assistance; and (iv) dissemination formats. For each topic, the table provides suggestions on the types of information that are considered useful for inclusion in the metadata.

4.10 Countries may choose either to prepare separate metadata for the encouraged extensions or to integrate them with the metadata for the respective core indicator.

4.11 For the sociodemographic sectors, identified in Section C of Table 3.1, countries are encouraged to include in their metadata the MDG indicators (see Appendix III), as well as the indicators used to monitor progress on national poverty reduction strategies.

Table C: Integrity of the Disseminated Data and Access by the Public

4.12Table C was designed specifically for the preparation of metadata for the integrity and access dimensions of the GDDS. It is requested that a separate table be prepared for each agency disseminating data covered by the system. In most cases, it is expected that separate tables will be required for the central bank, the ministry of finance, and the national statistical office. There may, however, be other—sometimes many—agencies disseminating the data.

4.13 In highly decentralized systems, it is recommended to combine the metadata, if appropriate, in instances where several agencies disseminate data under the same GDDS category (for example, where a ministry of higher education and ministry of technical education each disseminate data on education).

4.14 It is not recommended that Table C be prepared for agencies that produce certain data in the course of their regular functions but do not disseminate such data to the public. For example, customs offices are normally required to tabulate summaries of merchandise trade statistics. These statistics may then be transmitted, depending on responsibility, to the national statistical office for dissemination and for inclusion in the national accounts, or to the central bank for dissemination and for inclusion in the balance of payments. In such situations, it is not necessary for the customs office to complete Table C, since dissemination of merchandise trade data would be covered by either the national statistical office or the central bank.

4.15 The table focuses on the following topics: (i) data produced and disseminated (by comprehensive framework and by data category); (ii) data integrity (terms and conditions under which data are produced and disseminated, identification of internal government access to data before release, identification of ministerial commentary on the occasion of statistical releases, and provision of information about revisions and advance notice of major changes in methodology); and (iii) access to data by the public (simultaneous release to the public and advance-release calendars).

Table D: Data Quality Assessment Framework Presentation

4.16 On the DSBB, the GDDS metadata will continue to be available in the current presentation formats familiar to DSBB users. However, as the underlying metadata will be structured according to the DQAF, another view of the metadata, based on the cascading structure of the DQAF, will also be provided on the DSBB. The DQAF is used in the Statistics Department’s work on the data module of the Report on Observance of Standards and Codes (ROSC), and on technical assistance. Presenting the GDDS metadata in the DQAF structure will enhance the usefulness of the metadata. In addition, information gathered in the Statistics Department’s work on data ROSC and technical assistance can be used to prepare or update participating countries’ GDDS metadata.

4.17 New participating countries will be expected to use the DQAF structure to prepare metadata for GDDS purposes. Current participating countries will be expected to use the DQAF structure to update metadata for GDDS purposes in due course. Procedures for preparing the GDDS metadata in the DQAF format are available from STA’s Data Dissemination Standards Division at STADD@IMF.org. A Metadata Compilation Guide assisting countries in compiling metadata in the DQAF format will be available toward the end of 2007.

< COUNTRY >

Table A. Comprehensive Frameworks

< Sector >

CORE FRAMEWORK:

National Descriptor (if different, please indicate):

ENCOURAGED EXTENSION(S) (as applicable):

National Descriptor (if different, please indicate):

National Methodological Publication (as applicable, including information on how it may be obtained):

CONTACT PERSON(S):

  • Name:

  • Title:

  • Agency:

  • Address:

  • Telephone:

  • Fax:

  • E-mail:

  • Name:

  • Title:

  • Agency:

  • Address:

  • Telephone:

  • Fax:

  • E-mail:

DATE METADATA UPDATED:

I. Analytical Framework, Concepts, Definitions, and Classifications

Describe the analytic framework used, identifying the main components that are published; the classification systems used; and any disparity (for example, in scope or procedure) between data of different periodicity. If an international (or regional) statistical guideline is used, state in which respects the guideline is followed and in which respects national modifications are made. Major modifications should be particularly noted.
Analytical Framework, Concepts, and Definitions:
Classification System:

II. Scope of the Data

Identify the coverage of institutional units, transactions, and geographic areas about which data are disseminated. Note any major departures from international guidelines (for example, national accounts exclude units engaged in informal activities, central government excludes social security funds). Identify periodicity and timeliness of the data.
Unit Coverage:
Transaction Coverage:
Geographic Coverage:
Unrecorded Activity (as relevant):
Periodicity:
Identify the frequency of compilation and dissemination of the data (for example, monthly, quarterly, annual).
Timeliness:
Identify the lapse of time between the end of a reference period (or a reference date) and the dissemination of the data.

III. Accounting Conventions

The time of recording (cash, accrual, or other (specify)), valuation methods, and other accounting conventions should be specified.

IV. Nature of the Basic Data Sources

For the main components disseminated, indicate whether data are compiled from administrative records, surveys, censuses, or combinations of these. Briefly describe the means of data collection; where sampling is used, the sampling methods should be briefly described.

V. Compilation Practices

Describe any adjustments made to the basic data sources (censuses, surveys, or administrative records). Include, as appropriate, a description of procedures for estimating missing values, grossing-up samples, consolidating data, cross-checking data sources, and reconciling alternative estimates. For price-adjusted measures, describe the general approach used. Specific practices with regard to revision of the data, including reasons for revisions and information on the size of past revisions, should be described.

VI. Other Aspects

Briefly describe any other aspects considered important, such as seasonal adjustment, base years, reference years, and disclosure control procedures.

VI. Plans for Improvement

Describe short-term (in the next year) and medium-term (2–5 years) plans for making improvements in the comprehensive framework and note any improvements that have been implemented in the past two years. Technical or other assistance needs that may be required for implementing these plans should also be noted, if applicable. If it has been determined that there are no shortcomings that need to be addressed, this determination should be explicitly stated.
Recent Improvements:
Short-Term Plan:
Medium-Term Plan:
Technical Assistance/Financing Needs/Other Prerequisites
  • Short-Term:

  • Medium-Term:

< COUNTRY >

Table B. Data Categories, Core Indicators and Basic Concepts, and Sociodemographic Data

< Sector >

DATA CATEGORY:

National Descriptor (if different, please indicate):

CORE INDICATORS:

ENCOURAGED EXTENSION(S) (as applicable):

Country-Specific Indicator (if different, please indicate):

CONTACT PERSON(S):

  • Name:

  • Title:

  • Agency:

  • Address:

  • Telephone:

  • Fax:

  • E-mail:

  • Name:

  • Title:

  • Agency:

  • Address:

  • Telephone:

  • Fax:

  • E-mail:

DATE METADATA UPDATED:

I. Data Characteristics

Coverage
Briefly describe the key characteristics of the data; i.e., the features of which a user must be aware to use the data appropriately. These include the unit of measure, scope (for example, geographic, institutional, product), statistical characteristics (for example, seasonal adjustment, index number base year), basic data source, and accounting conventions, and data revision policy.
Periodicity:
Identify the frequency of compilation and dissemination of the data (for example, monthly, quarterly, annual).
Timeliness:
Identify the lapse of time between the end of a reference period (or a reference date) and the dissemination of the data.

II. Quality

Documentation of Methodology
Identify any publicly available statement of methodology that describes how the data are compiled and the sources of data.
Data to Support Cross-Checks and Provide an Assurance of Reasonableness
Describe the kind and extent of detail of published data, the statistical frameworks (including accounting identities and statistical relationships), and the comparisons and reconciliations that are available to assist users in assessing the quality of the data.

III. Plans for Improvement

Describe short-term (in the next year) and medium-term (2–5 years) plans for making improvements in the data category and note any improvements that have been implemented in the past two years. Technical or other assistance needs that may be required for implementing these plans should also be noted, if applicable. If it has been determined that there are no shortcomings that need to be addressed, this determination should be explicitly stated.

Recent Improvements:
Short-Term Plan:
Medium-Term Plan:
Technical Assistance/Financing Needs/Other Prerequisites
  • Short-Term:

  • Medium-Term:

IV. Dissemination Formats

Indicate the title and language(s) of publication. Identify an appropriate contact person, if different from contact listed on first page.
Hard Copy
  • News Release

Publication
  • Weekly

  • Monthly

  • Quarterly

  • Annual

  • Other

Electronic
  • Internet

  • Other Online

  • CD-ROM

  • Diskette

  • Other (specify)

  • None

< COUNTRY >

Table C. Data Integrity and Access by the Public

< Agency >

This table should be prepared, as appropriate, for each agency disseminating data covered by the GDDS.

CONTACT PERSON(S):

  • Name:

  • Title:

  • Agency:

  • Address:

  • Telephone:

  • Fax:

  • E-mail:

  • Name:

  • Title:

  • Agency:

  • Address:

  • Telephone:

  • Fax:

  • E-mail:

DATE METADATA UPDATED:

I. Data Produced and Disseminated

a. Comprehensive Frameworks:
The agency is responsible for compilation and dissemination of comprehensive frameworks in the following areas (check boxes as appropriate):
1. National Accounts
2. Central Government Operations
3. Depository Corporations Survey
4. Balance of Payments
b. Data Categories, Core Indicators, and Basic Concepts:
The agency is responsible for compilation and dissemination of the following data categories, core indicators, and basic concepts (check boxes as appropriate):
Real sector
National accounts aggregates
Production index/indices
Price indices
Labor market indicators
Financial sector
Broad money and credit aggregates
Central bank aggregates
Interest rates
Stock market
Fiscal sector
Central government aggregates
Central government debt
External sector
Balance of payments aggregates
External debt and debt service
International reserves
Merchandise trade
Exchange rates
Sociodemographic Data
Population
Health
Education
Poverty

II. Data Integrity

a. Terms and Conditions Under Which Data Are Compiled and Disseminated
Identify any applicable statistical laws, charters, or codes of conduct; procedures and processes related to the confidentiality of individual responses; and whether the laws, charters, codes, etc., are available to the public.
b. Identification of Internal Government Access to Data Before Release
List persons or officials holding designated positions within the government, but outside the agency producing the data, who have prerelease access to the data and the schedule according to which they receive access.
c. Identification of Ministerial Commentary on the Occasion of Statistical Releases
Describe the general procedures applicable and note any different practices that may apply to individual data categories.
d. Provision of Information About Revisions and Advance Notice of Major Changes in Methodology
Describe existing policy about revisions and procedures for providing advance notice of major changes in methodology. Describe any plans for changing these policies and procedures.

III. Access to Data by the Public

III. Access to Data by the Public
a. Simultaneous Release to the Public
Please describe the procedures that ensure simultaneous release; variations among data categories should be noted.
b. Advance-Release Calendars
Identify whether advance-release calendars are publicly available. If so, describe where they are disseminated, for what period (for example, one quarter, one year); how often they are updated; and how well the actual release dates match the calendar.

IV. Plans for Improvement

Describe short-term (in the next year) and medium-term (2–5 years) plans for making improvements in practices with respect to the integrity and access dimensions of the GDDS and any planned improvements of an institutional or legislative nature by the agency. Note any improvements that have been implemented in the past two years. Technical or other assistance needs that may be required for implementing these plans should also be noted, if applicable. If it has been determined that there are no shortcomings that need to be addressed, this determination should be explicitly stated.
Recent Improvements:
Short-Term Plan:
Medium-Term Plan:
Technical Assistance/Financing Needs/Other Prerequisites
  • Short-Term:

  • Medium-Term:

Table D.Data Quality Assessment Framework (DQAF) Generic Framework
Quality DimensionsElementsIndicators
0. Prerequisites of quality0.1 Legal and institutional environment—The environment is supportive of statistics.0.1.1 The responsibility for collecting, processing, and disseminating the statistics is clearly specified.
0.1.2 Data sharing and coordination among data-producing agencies are adequate.
0.1.3 Individual reporters’ data are to be kept confidential and used for statistical purposes only.
0.1.4 Statistical reporting is ensured through legal mandate and/or measures to encourage response.
0.2 Resources—Resources are commensurate with needs of statistical programs.0.2.1 Staff, facilities, computing resources, and financing are commensurate with statistical programs.
0.2.2 Measures to ensure efficient use of resources are implemented.
0.3 Relevance—Statistics cover relevant information on the subject field.0.3.1 The relevance and practical utility of existing statistics in meeting users’ needs are monitored.
0.4 Other quality management—Quality is a cornerstone of statistical work.0.4.1 Processes are in place to focus on quality.
0.4.2 Processes are in place to monitor the quality of the statistical program.
0.4.3 Processes are in place to deal with quality considerations in planning the statistical program.
1. Assurances of integrity1.1 Professionalism—Statistical policies and practices are guided by professional principles.1.1.1 Statistics are produced on an impartial basis.
The principle of objectivity in the collection, processing, and dissemination of statistics is firmly adhered to.1.1.2 Choices of sources and statistical techniques as well as decisions about dissemination are informed solely by statistical considerations.
1.1.3 The appropriate statistical entity is entitled to comment on erroneous interpretation and misuse of statistics.
1.2 Transparency—Statistical policies and practices are transparent.1.2.1 The terms and conditions under which statistics are collected, processed, and disseminated are available to the public.
1.2.2 Internal governmental access to statistics prior to their release is publicly identified.
1.2.3 Products of statistical agencies/units are clearly identified as such.
1.2.4 Advance notice is given of major changes in methodology, source data, and statistical techniques.
1.3 Ethical standards—Policies and practices are guided by ethical standards.1.3.1 Guidelines for staff behavior are in place and are well known to the staff.
2. Methodological soundness2.1 Concepts and definitions— Concepts and definitions used are in accord with internationally accepted statistical frameworks.2.1.1 The overall structure in terms of concepts and definitions follows internationally accepted standards, guidelines, or good practices.
The methodological basis for the statistics follows internationally accepted standards, guidelines, or good practices.2.2 Scope—The scope is in accord with internationally accepted standards, guidelines, or good practices.2.2.1 The scope is broadly consistent with internationally accepted standards, guidelines, or good practices.
2.3 Classification/sectorization—Classification and sectorization systems are in accord with internationally accepted standards, guidelines, or good practices.2.3.1 Classification/sectorization systems used are broadly consistent with internationally accepted standards, guidelines, or good practices.
2.4 Basis for recording—Flows and stocks are valued and recorded according to internationally accepted standards, guidelines, or good practices.2.4.1 Market prices are used to value flows and stocks.
2.4.2 Recording is done on an accrual basis.
2.4.3 Grossing/netting procedures are broadly consistent with internationally accepted standards, guidelines, or good practices.
3. Accuracy and reliability3.1 Source data—Source data available provide an adequate basis to compile statistics.3.1.1 Source data are obtained from comprehensive data collection programs that take into account country-specific conditions.
Source data and statistical techniques are sound and statistical outputs sufficiently portray reality.3.1.2 Source data reasonably approximate the definitions, scope, classifications, valuation, and time of recording required.
3.1.3 Source data are timely.
3.2 Assessment of source data—Source data are regularly assessed.3.2.1 Source data—including censuses, sample surveys, and administrative records—are routinely assessed, e.g., for coverage, sample error, response error, and nonsampling error; the results of the assessments are monitored and made available to guide statistical processes.
3.3 Statistical techniques—Statistical techniques employed conform to sound statistical procedures.3.3.1 Data compilation employs sound statistical techniques to deal with data sources.
3.3.2 Other statistical procedures (e.g., data adjustments and transformations, and statistical analysis) employ sound statistical techniques.
3.4 Assessment and validation of intermediate data and statistical outputs—Intermediate results and statistical outputs are regularly assessed and validated.3.4.1 Intermediate results are validated against other information where applicable.
3.4.2 Statistical discrepancies in intermediate data are assessed and investigated.
3.4.3 Statistical discrepancies and other potential indicators or problems in statistical outputs are investigated.
3.5 Revision studies—Revisions, as a gauge of reliability, are tracked and mined for the information they may provide.3.5.1 Studies and analyses of revisions are carried out routinely and used internally to inform statistical processes (see also 4.3.3).
4. Serviceability4.1 Periodicity and timeliness—Periodicity and timeliness follow internationally accepted dissemination standards.4.1.1 Periodicity follows dissemination standards.
Statistics, with adequate periodicity and timeliness, are consistent and follow a predictable revisions policy.4.1.2 Timeliness follows dissemination standards.
4.2 Consistency—Statistics are consistent within the data set, over time, and with major data sets.4.2.1 Statistics are consistent within the data set.
4.2.2 Statistics are consistent or reconcilable over a reasonable period of time.
4.2.3 Statistics are consistent or reconcilable with those obtained through other data sources and/or statistical frameworks.
4.3 Revision policy and practice—Data revisions follow a regular and publicized procedure.4.3.1 Revisions follow a regular and transparent schedule.
4.3.2 Preliminary and/or revised data are clearly identified.
4.3.3 Studies and analyses of revisions are made public (see also 3.5.1).
5. Accessibility5.1 Data accessibility—Statistics are presented in a clear and understandable manner, forms of dissemination are adequate, and statistics are made available on an impartial basis.5.1.1 Statistics are presented in a way that facilitates proper interpretation and meaningful comparisons (layout and clarity of text, tables, and charts).
Data and metadata are easily available and assistance to users is adequate.5.1.2 Dissemination media and format are adequate.
5.1.3 Statistics are released on a preannounced schedule.
5.1.4 Statistics are made available to all users at the same time.
5.1.5 Statistics not routinely disseminated are made available upon request.
5.2 Metadata accessibility—Up-to-date and pertinent metadata are made available.5.2.1 Documentation on concepts, scope, classifications, basis of recording, data sources, and statistical techniques is available, and differences from internationally accepted standards, guidelines, or good practices are annotated.
5.2.2 Levels of detail are adapted to the needs of the intended audience.
5.3 Assistance to users—Prompt and knowledgeable support service is available.5.3.1 Contact points for each subject field are publicized.
5.3.2 Catalogs of publications, documents, and other services, including information on any charges, are widely available.

The DSBB also contains two summary tables that draw on the metadata provided by participating countries.

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