9. Dissemination Standards Bulletin Board

International Monetary Fund
Published Date:
July 2007
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9.1 This chapter describes the features of the Dissemination Standards Bulletin Board (DSBB). It also discusses the presentation of the advance release calendars (ARCs) and that of the metadata on the bulletin board and the hyperlinks from the DSBB to the country’s national summary data page (NSDP).


9.2 The DSBB plays a key role in the implementation of the SDDS. It provides the public with broad and easy access to subscribing countries’ data and metadata. The IMF established the DSBB ( in 1996 and maintains it as a service to the public.1

9.3 The DSBB posts the following information for each SDDS subscriber:

  • ARCs;

  • Metadata pages, which include (for each prescribed SDDS data category) a base page, a dissemination format page, and a summary methodology page;

  • A summary of observance (SOO); and

  • Hyperlink access to the subscriber’s statistics disseminated on the country’s NSDP.

9.4 The SOO indicates whether a subscriber currently meets the SDDS specifications for coverage, timeliness, and periodicity for each prescribed data category. In addition, the SOO indicates (a) whether a data category is not relevant to the subscriber’s context, and why; and (b) whether the subscriber has exercised any flexibility options or “as relevant” provisions for the various data categories. The SOO also identifies any data category not meeting SDDS requirements, putting the subscriber in non-observance of the Standard. In this case, the SOO describes the subscriber’s plans for fully meeting the Standard within a specified time frame.

9.5 As indicated in Chapter 1, the DSBB also incorporates a query facility. In addition to allowing users to retrieve metadata by selected topics across subscribing countries. The facility allows users to make cross-country comparisons of ARCs and the SOOs.

9.6 The rest of this chapter elaborates on the presentation of the ARCs and the metadata on the DSBB. It also notes hyperlinks between the subscribing country’s NSDP and the DSBB.

Presentation of Advance Release Calendars on the DSBB

9.7 For each subscriber, the DSBB presents an ARC showing release dates for data categories prescribed by the SDDS. The ARC for each data category covers a four-month period (current month and the following three months). The periodicity and timeliness posted on the ARC should correspond to the periodicity and timeliness described in the subscribers’ SDDS metadata.

9.8 The “notes” section of the ARC table indicates the subscriber’s use of ARC flexibility options and the exceptions to the requirement for ARCs for daily data. It also disseminates information on the reason(s) for any anticipated deviation(s) from scheduled release dates (see Chapter 8).

9.9 The “notes” section of the ARC table also allows a subscriber to notify users in advance when it will not or may not observe a previously announced release date (“not punctually”) and to explain why. A subscriber can also note in the same area when its ARC does not meet the SDDS timeliness requirement for the specific data category, and why.

9.10 As noted earlier, the DSBB also provides an ARC query facility to compare release dates across subscribers for various data categories.

Presentation of the Metadata on the DSBB

9.11 The DSBB presents a subscriber country’s metadata in several pages. These comprise:

  • A general metadata page, listing all SDDS data categories (with hyperlinks to the base page and summary methodology page for each data category); and

  • A specific metadata page for each data category (and for some categories, separate webpages for components, as in the case of the CPI and PPI or WPI) with hyperlinks to the summary methodology page and the dissemination format page.

9.12 The presentation on the DSBB of key metadata for each data category provided by subscribing countries is illustrated in Boxes 9.1 and 9.2. Box 9.1 shows the metadata to be presented on the base page, covering practices for the four major dimensions (data coverage, periodicity, and timeliness; access by the public; integrity of data, and data quality) of dissemination prescribed in the SDDS. Box 9.2 shows metadata to be presented in the summary methodology.

9.13 For each data category, the metadata base page is hyperlinked to a dissemination format page. The format page contains information on how to access a specific category of data, the locations of websites (Internet URLs), electronic databases, and availability of hard-copy publications.

9.14 For each data category, the summary methodology provides DSBB users with a substantive description of the quality of the data to assess the suitability of the data for their purposes. The summary methodologies are not intended to describe all aspects of how a particular data category is compiled. Rather, they outline key features and relate these to international guidelines for most of the SDDS data categories.

9.15 The responsibility for the accuracy of the metadata and the underlying economic and financial statistics rests with the subscribing countries. Subscribing countries need to certify the accuracy of the metadata in every calendar quarter. If the certification indicates that the metadata are not fully accurate and need to be updated, the subscribing country needs to provide the updated metadata to the IMF (see also Chapter 8.)

9.16 To integrate and streamline the IMF data standards initiative with the surveillance and technical assistance work of the IMF Statistics Department, the IMF Executive Board2 has endorsed the presentation of SDDS 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 Appendix IV). 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.3 Presenting the SDDS metadata in the DQAF structure enhances the usefulness of the metadata for research and for other purposes. In addition, information gathered in the Statistics Department’s work on data ROSC and technical assistance can be used to prepare or update subscribing countries’ SDDS metadata. Subscribing countries are expected to use the DQAF structure to prepare and update metadata for SDDS.

Linkage of the National Summary Data Page to the DSBB

9.17 As described in Chapter 8, a subscribing country is required to establish its NSDP on a national website hyperlinked to the DSBB. The NSDP is to disseminate, at a minimum, the latest and the most recent previous observations for the prescribed data categories and components. Responsibility for the data on the NSDP rests with individual subscribers.

9.18 Linking the DSBB to the NSDP gives users broad and easy access to SDDS data. Monitoring of SDDS observance is discussed in the next chapter.

Box 9.1.Metadata: Base Page for Each Data Category1

The Data: Coverage, Periodicity, and Timeliness
Coverage characteristicsThis entry describes the key characteristics of the data so that users can use the data appropriately:
  • Scope (e.g., the geographic, institutional, product, industry, transaction, and/or asset domain of the data and the unit of measure for the domain); basis for recording (e.g., cash or accrual basis);

  • Data sources (e.g., sample, administrative records); and selected statistical characteristics (e.g., the base year for a price or volume index number or volume measure, seasonal adjustment methodology used, calculation basis for rates of change).

PeriodicityThis entry shows the current periodicity of the data category—daily, monthly, quarterly, or annually. If the periodicities of the components of a data category differ, this should be stated here.
TimelinessThis entry shows the current timeliness of the data category. If the timeliness of the components of a data category differs one from the other, this should be stated here.
Access by the Public
Advance release calendar (ARC)This entry describes the characteristics of the release schedule, including the period covered by the calendar (for example, one year ahead, one quarter ahead), modes of dissemination, the status of the release dates (for example, “no later than” (NLT) or precise date), and information on follow-up calendars for week-ahead dates and any 24-hour advance notices. No advance calendars are required for data disseminated daily; in such cases the metadata should read “not applicable; data are disseminated daily.”
Simultaneous release to all interested partiesThis entry describes the practices to ensure that data are released to all interested parties at the same time. It should include a description of any prerelease of data under embargo conditions. If a group of users has access to the data before they are disseminated to the public, the group must be identified and the practice described in this entry. The procedure for first release is to be described here. If the data are first, or solely, made available to the public on request, the metadata must indicate how the public is informed of this, including the document in which such notice is given to the public.
Dissemination of terms and conditions under which official statistics are produced, including those relating to the confidentiality of individually identifiable informationThis entry describes the terms and conditions under which statistics are compiled and disseminated, including laws, decrees, charters, or codes of conduct that set such terms and conditions, and the terms for public access to this information. The entry should also state whether there are regulations governing compilation and dissemination. If the data are not required by law to be disseminated, the metadata could say “[name of disseminating agency] disseminates these data as a service to the public.”
Identification of internal government access to data prior to releaseWhere data are made available to officials outside the producing agency before public release, the designation of those officials (that is, their positions and agencies) and the schedule by which they receive access should be summarized and/or the place where such a list can be found should be identified.
Identification of ministerial commentary on the occasion of statistical releasesThis entry indicates whether or not any ministerial commentary accompanies the release of the data.
Provision of information about revision and advance notice of major changes in methodologyThis entry describes any policy or practice whereby data are revised, and the status of the data when first released. It also provides information on the size of revisions and other relevant revision information.
Procedures for advance notice of major methodological changes (for example, major changes in coverage, definition, or classification) should be provided. If there have been no major changes in methodology in recent years, the metadata should indicate the practices that may be adopted for subsequent modifications. Metadata in this entry should identify practices for informing the public of major changes in methodology and should not describe the actual changes in methodology.
Dissemination of documentation on methodology and sources used in preparing statisticsThis entry describes where comprehensive descriptions of methodology can be found (for example, in separate publications on methodology, in explanatory notes contained in documents in which the data are published, or in papers that are available to the public).
Dissemination of component detail, reconciliations with related data, and statistical frameworks that support statistical cross-checks and provide assurance of reasonablenessThis entry describes the framework and other relevant information that facilitate data comparisons and reconciliations, allowing users to assess the quality of the data.
Country Notes
1 Phased out in 2007 and replaced by the Data Quality Assessment Framework (DQAF).

Box 9.2.Components of Summary Methodology1

I. Analytical framework, concepts, definitions, and classificationsIf an international (or regional) manual/guide is used, this section should state in which respects the manual/guide is followed and in which respects national modifications are made. If an international manual/guide exists but is not followed by the country, the national practices should be briefly presented; the reasons for not using the international guidelines should be provided. Plans to implement the international guidelines may also be noted. For data categories where no international guidelines exist, the national practice should be briefly presented.
II. Scope of the dataWhere applicable, the coverage of institutional units included in the data should be identified, and major departures from ideal coverage should be noted. This identification will apply to categories such as public sector or general or central government, where the units covered in the disseminated data do not constitute complete coverage (for example, certain major public enterprises may be excluded or central government data exclude social security funds). Similar identifications may apply to other categories concerning geographical coverage, coverage of commodities, or coverage of industries.
III. Accounting conventionsThe time of recording—cash, accrual, or other (specify)—valuation methods, and other accounting conventions should be specified.
IV. Nature of the basic dataThis entry specifies whether data are compiled from administrative records (e.g., monetary and government data), 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 practicesAdjustments made to basic data sources (censuses, surveys, or administrative records) should be described. As appropriate, a description of procedures should be provided such as for imputing missing values or source data, grossing-up samples, consolidating data, balancing/cross-checking data sources, and reconciling alternative estimates. For price-adjusted measures, describe the general approach—adjustment with prices specific to the item or with a general price index—and the relevant characteristics of the approach applied.
VI. Other aspectsExamples of other aspects to be described are seasonal adjustments, disclosure control procedures, base years, reference years, transformations from fiscal year to calendar year, and other aspects considered important.
1 Phased out in 2007 and replaced by the Data Quality Assessment Framework (DQAF).

In addition to information on the SDDS, the DSBB posts information on the GDDS, on the IMF Executive Board’s reviews of the IMF’s data standards initiative, and on the IMF’s Data Quality Assessment Framework (DQAF) under the Data Quality Reference Site (DQRS).

See the IMF Executive Board’s Sixth Review of the Fund’s Data Standards Initiative (see

Over 100 ROSC data module reports using the DQAF framework are available on (navigate to Data Quality Reference site, DQRS).

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