8. Subscribers’ Responsibilities with Advance Release Calendars, Metadata, and National Summary Data Pages

International Monetary Fund
Published Date:
July 2007
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8.1 This chapter provides an overview and discusses in detail subscribers’ responsibilities for advance release calendars (ARCs), metadata, and national summary data pages (NSDPs).


8.2 To foster the basic tenets of ready and equal access, integrity of data, and quality of data, the SDDS requires subscribing countries to adhere to procedures that streamline the operations of the SDDS and facilitate public availability of countries’ data. These procedures include provision of ARCs and metadata for posting on the DSBB (the IMF’s Dissemination Standards Bulletin Board). Equally important is the maintenance of an NSDP to post the SDDS-prescribed data, with hyperlinks to the DSBB.

8.3 ARCs, metadata, and NSDP, together with the IMF’s DSBB, represent key operational aspects of the SDDS. They are the media for disseminating countries’ data and metadata electronically via the Internet to the general public, facilitating ready and equal access. They support the IMF’s monitoring of subscribers’ observance of the Standard. As indicated in Chapter 1, monitoring observance of subscribers is a critical factor in promoting sustained adherence to SDDS requirements, which, in turn, is the foundation for maintaining the credibility of the SDDS in capital markets and with the public.

8.4 To support electronic monitoring of SDDS observance, the IMF Executive Board has endorsed the use of standardized electronic procedures established by the IMF staff in consultation with subscribing countries.1 Specifically, subscribers are required to (a) report ARCs to the IMF via the electronic format;2 (b) adopt standard formats for the subscribing countries’ NSDPs to facilitate the IMF staff’s verifying electronically information on the NSDP, including the date of release and the reference period for data disseminated in the most current period for each of the prescribed data categories; (c) certify on a quarterly basis, via specific electronic means, the accuracy of the metadata posted on the DSBB; and (d) report updated metadata to the IMF staff via specific electronic media.

8.5 The rest of this chapter elaborates on a subscribing country’s responsibilities with regard to the ARCs, the metadata, and the NSDP. Their linkage to the IMF’s DSBB is discussed in Chapter 9, and the IMF’s monitoring of countries’ observance of the SDDS is presented in Chapter 10.

Advance Release Calendars

8.6 ARCs are required for all SDDS data categories except for the encouraged category of forward-looking indicators and for those data categories disseminated daily: interest rates, stock market (share price index), and exchange rates.

8.7 ARCs are to be provided to the IMF staff via electronic formats the IMF staff establishes in consultation with subscribing countries to facilitate their posting on the DSBB.

8.8 For each of the data categories, subscribing countries are to provide, at a minimum, an ARC that shows release dates for the current month and for the following three months.3 Subscribing countries are encouraged to specify the time of release in the calendars.

8.9 Release dates are to fall within the timeliness requirement of the data category and should be consistent with the periodicity and timeliness indicated in the metadata posted on the DSBB. If the precise release dates are not known in advance, a subscribing country is to provide either (a) a range of up to five working days during which the release will take place, with the last day of this range of days not to exceed the prescribed timeliness for the data category; or (b) a “no later than” (NLT) date, indicating the latest date at which the release of data would take place, with the NLT date not to exceed the prescribed timeliness for the data category.4 If the subscriber indicates a range of dates or a NLT date in its ARC, it must provide to the IMF the precise release date at the latest by the close of business on the last business day (usually Friday) of the week preceding the date of actual release of the data (unless an “ARC flexibility option” is taken; see the next section in this chapter). This allows the IMF to update the ARC, thereby providing notification to users of the precise day of release of the data.

8.10 In monitoring SDDS observance, the IMF cross-checks electronically the actual release dates of the data on the NSDP against the ARCs, as well as against the periodicity and timeliness indicated in the country’s metadata and against the SDDS prescribed periodicity and timeliness.5 It is important, therefore, that the release dates shown in the ARCs reflect the actual release dates on the NSDP. It is also important that the release dates meet the SDDS requirements. Furthermore, the ARCs should be consistent with the information on periodicity and timeliness shown in the metadata for the specific data category.

8.11 When events make it impossible to release the data in accordance with the SDDS periodicity and timeliness requirements, the subscriber must still provide the actual release date for dissemination on the ARC, and the ARC will note the deviations of the release date from that specified by the SDDS.

ARC Flexibility Options

8.12 If a subscriber indicates a range of dates or a NLT date on its ARC, but is not in a position to provide a precise release date to the IMF staff at the latest on the Friday of the week preceding the actual release of the data, it must avail itself of an “ARC flexibility option.” This option exempts the subscriber from the obligation of providing the precise release date no later than the last working day of the week prior to the actual release of the data. However, at least 24 hours advance notice is strongly encouraged for releases of the data on which this flexibility option is taken. This option does not exempt the subscribing country from other ARC requirements.

8.13 The ARC flexibility option can be taken for a maximum of two data categories. Only one ARC flexibility option is required to cover all components of the labor market (employment, unemployment, and wages or earnings), price indices (CPI and PPI), and international reserves (official reserve assets and the data template on international reserves and foreign currency liquidity).6

8.14 The ARCs and related procedures just described are directed to official statistics and their producing agencies. Subscribers could, if they wish, provide in the metadata for posting on the DSBB information on the release calendars for data compiled by the private sector, with hyperlinks to such calendars or appropriate notes on the sources of the information. Because the public finds the ARCs useful, subscribers are encouraged to foster the practice of disseminating ARCs among private producers of key data.

Simultaneous release

8.15 In posting ARCs on the DSBB, subscribers are to describe in the metadata for each data category the procedures that ensure simultaneous release of the data to all interested parties. These procedures may vary according to the sensitivity and other characteristics of the data. For example, the procedures for high-profile data categories may be stricter than for others, and data that require extensive technical explanation may involve making technical staff of the producing agency available to answer questions from the media and others at the time of the release.

8.16 This “simultaneous release” requirement applies to official statistics and their producing agencies. Subscribing countries would be deemed to be in observance of the SDDS if a private organization producing any data covered in the SDDS did not provide simultaneous release, which may be the case if the private organization has private clients. Thus, for the purpose of posting on the DSBB, the subscribing country is to note in the metadata that the “simultaneous release” requirement was “not applicable” for the specific data category/component. However, subscribing countries are encouraged to foster openness about the conditions under which key data are prepared and released. Subscribing countries could, if they wish, provide relevant information about private data release in the metadata for posting on the DSBB, with an appropriate indication of the source of the information.

8.17 The posting of ARCs on the DSBB is further described in Chapter 9.


8.18 The SDDS requires subscribers to submit metadata—information on their current compilation and dissemination practices—to the IMF for presentation on the DSBB.

8.19 SDDS metadata should follow the standard format to facilitate the IMF staff’s monitoring of subscribers’ observance of the Standard.7

8.20 Subject to the coverage flexibility options allowed by the SDDS, the subscriber’s metadata must address, for each prescribed data category, the four SDDS dissemination dimensions (data coverage, periodicity, and timeliness; access by the public; integrity of data; and data quality), including the provision of agency contact information, data dissemination formats, and summary methodologies.

8.21 The SDDS recommends that the methodological summaries note major differences between country practices and the international guidelines, without any implication that such differences reflect shortcomings in national practices. The SDDS, however, recommends that internationally accepted guidelines be used. (See lists of guidelines in Appendix II.)

8.22 The responsibility for the accuracy of the metadata and of the economic and financial statistics underlying the metadata rests with the subscribing countries. Subscribers are to certify, on a quarterly basis, the accuracy of the metadata posted on the DSBB. Under this process, subscribers will notify IMF staff, within three working days of the end of each calendar quarter, that either (a) all of the metadata posted on the DSBB are fully accurate; or (b) certain metadata are inaccurate. In the latter case, subscribers need to provide the corrected metadata within a further five working days of notification. The IMF will post the date on which the metadata were last certified by the subscriber on the DSBB.

8.23 Situations may arise where a subscriber, during the period between certification dates for the metadata, changes its practices, affecting the accuracy of the metadata posted on the DSBB. In such situations, the subscriber should inform IMF staff of the changes to expeditiously amend the affected metadata. Subscribers would be required to provide the revised metadata at the time of the next quarterly certification. Pending revision of the metadata on the DSBB, a note may be posted on the DSBB indicating that the metadata in question were in the process of being updated.

8.24 The posting of metadata under the various metadata pages on the DSBB is further described in Chapter 9.

National Summary Data Pages

8.25 As noted earlier, at the time of its subscription to the SDDS, a country is to have established the NSDP to disseminate the data prescribed by the SDDS and described in the country’s metadata. The NSDP can be established on the website of one of the country’s statistical agencies. Coordination among statistical agencies in providing data to the host agency for the NSDP is critical to meeting this SDDS requirement. The NSDP is to follow the standard format the IMF establishes. Guidelines on formatting the NSDP are given in Appendix III.

8.26 The NSDP is to disseminate, at a minimum, the latest observation and the observation immediately preceding it for all prescribed data categories and related components.8 Subscribers are to provide on the NSDP hyperlinks to additional national websites that have more comprehensive data series, historical time series, or both, for the specific data category. Hyperlink access to such additional data series posted on national websites should be included in one of the optional columns to the right of the NSDP (see Appendix III).

8.27 The NSDP must show all data categories covered by the SDDS. The data shown on the NSDP and the metadata posted on the DSBB should be consistent with respect to coverage, periodicity, and timeliness of the specific data category.

8.28 Subscribing countries are responsible for maintaining the NSDP. Subscribers must update their NSDP on each new release of data covered by the SDDS. Provision of data to other IMF departments or divisions of the IMF’s Statistics Department for surveillance or other purposes does not relieve the subscriber from its responsibility to update its NSDP every time that new data in SDDS-prescribed categories are released.

8.29 Subscribers may also disseminate on the NSDP categories of data that are not covered by the SDDS. These data, however, must be clearly identified and separately located at the bottom of the NSDP under the title “Non-SDDS Data.”

8.30 The NSDP must be accessible directly from the DSBB through a hyperlink. The NSDP is also a tool for monitoring observance of the SDDS by the IMF staff; to this end, the IMF’s Executive Board decided in December 1998 to make mandatory the hyperlinks from the NSDP to the IMF’s DSBB. When the NSDP meets the requirements of the SDDS, the IMF staff adds a hyperlink to the NSDP to the subscriber’s index of data categories on the DSBB and to the subscriber’s base page for each of the data categories on the DSBB, thereby providing data users with ready access to data and metadata.

8.31 The NSDP must be in English. Subscribers that want to disseminate copies of their NSDP in languages other than English are invited to do so by setting up separate webpages, which can be made accessible through hyperlinks. There should be no paid subscription or password requirement for users to gain access to data disseminated on the country’s NSDP.

8.32 The linkage of the NSDP and the DSBB is further described in Chapter 9.


See Sixth Review of the Data Standards Initiatives, November 2, 2005 ( See also Box 1.2 in Chapter 1.


Transmitted over the Internet.


All components of a data category should be disseminated at the same time to allow meaningful analysis of economic developments.


As an example, a subscriber may expect to release all components of a data category on April 15. In this case, a quarter-ahead calendar made public in January may identify the precise day of release (April 15), or a period of up to five working days during which the data will be released (April 15–19), or a date no later than the day the data will be released (no later than April 30). The indicated dates (April 15, 19, and 30) must not exceed the prescribed timeliness for the data category.


To encourage subscribers to disseminate data with a higher periodicity and/or shorter timeliness than prescribed by the SDDS—that is, to follow the encouraged periodicity/timeliness—the IMF monitors the release date closest to the prescribed timeliness. For example, if a subscriber disseminates the central bank survey (CBS) on a weekly basis, as recommended by the SDDS, instead of monthly, the IMF monitors the last weekly dissemination of the month. This rule ensures that subscribers will not be penalized if they disseminate data with a higher periodicity than the one prescribed by the SDDS.


The ARC flexibility option, for example, can be used for data that are disseminated on a weekly basis but not always on the same day of the week. For example, without an ARC flexibility option, a subscriber that announces weekly NLT dates for the official reserve assets and the international reserves template would be required to provide precise release dates by, at the latest, every Friday of the week preceding the actual release of data. With a single ARC flexibility option, a subscriber could announce NLT dates for the official reserve assets and the international reserves template without having to provide precise release dates.


It also facilitates efforts of market participants and other users to compare practices of different countries.


For the data template on international reserves and foreign currency liquidity, and templates on external debt, direct hyperlinks to the templates are required.

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