Front Matter

Front Matter

International Monetary Fund. Statistics Dept.
Published Date:
December 2013
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©2013 International Monetary Fund

Cataloging-in-Publication Data

Joint Bank-Fund Library

The General Data Dissemination System: guide for participants and users. – Washington, D.C.: International Monetary Fund, 2013.

  • p.; cm.

ISBN 978-1-47556-764-9

1. International Monetary Fund – Handbooks, manuals, etc. 2. Disclosure of information - Handbooks, manuals, etc. 3. Economics – Information services. 4. Finance – Information services. I. International Monetary Fund.

HG3881.5.I58 G464 2013

ISBN: 978-1-47556-764-9 (paper)

978-1-48436-388-1 (ePub)

978-1-48439-856-2 (Mobi pocket)

978-1-48433-871-1 (web PDF)

Disclaimer: The views expressed in this book are those of the authors and should not be reported as or attributed to the International Monetary Fund, its Executive Board, or the governments of any of its member countries.

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The purpose of this Guide is to explain the nature and objectives of the General Data Dissemination System (GDDS), to describe its operation, and to provide practical guidance to International Monetary Fund (IMF) member countries on participation in the system. The GDDS provides members with a basic framework for a broader national statistical development strategy. It covers a set of statistics recognized to be essential for all countries for policy making and analysis in an environment that increasingly requires relevant, comprehensive, accurate, and timely statistics available to the general public. The GDDS addresses the full range of issues critical for compiling and disseminating data and making explicit plans for improvement to align national procedures with best practices.

This version of the Guide supersedes the version of June 2007. It takes on board the decisions made by the IMF’s Executive Board at the time of the Seventh Review of the Fund’s Data Standards Initiatives in December 2008 to align the GDDS and Special Data Dissemination Standard (SDDS) data categories. At that time, the Executive Board also decided to further enhance the GDDS to focus more on data dissemination, both to provide immediate benefit to a country’s policy makers and to facilitate a country’s graduation to the SDDS. In February 2012, at the time of the Eighth Review of the Fund’s Data Standards Initiatives, the Executive Board decided to leverage the plans for improvement by focusing further and prioritizing the delivery of technical assistance in statistics. The Guide is expected to continue to be updated as the GDDS evolves.

Since establishing the GDDS in December 1997, the IMF’s Statistics Department has worked closely with member countries and with other international organizations on the GDDS. For participating member countries, the GDDS has provided a management tool and a framework to foster sound statistical methodology, professional data compilation, and data dissemination. The IMF has worked to further develop and implement the GDDS guidelines with other international organizations, such as the World Bank, and with the participating countries. In this regard, it is important to highlight the valuable contribution of the World Bank in articulating the sociodemographic component of the GDDS.

Although more emphasis is placed on data dissemination, the main purpose of the GDDS remains to assist member countries to develop their statistical systems and to guide countries that wish to move toward subscribing to the SDDS. The GDDS supports the data-producing agencies to take control of their statistical development programs in a structured manner and to coordinate effectively among producing agencies, users, and the international community. The IMF supports these efforts by providing technical assistance and by catalyzing support from other sources.

As the GDDS continues to change, this Guide is especially important for countries that are already participating. Participating countries should update and revise their metadata to describe how their data compilation and dissemination activities are evolving toward best statistical practices.

Member countries that are interested in participating in the GDDS and those actively involved in preparing for participation are urged to consult the GDDS section of the IMF’s Dissemination Standards Bulletin Board (DSBB) on the Internet at: The site contains an extensive body of information on the statistical practices and statistical development plans of countries that participate in the GDDS.

The GDDS Guide was prepared by the staff of the Data Dissemination and Review Division of the IMF’s Statistics Department, under the general direction of the division chief.

Louis Marc Ducharme


Statistics Department

International Monetary Fund


The IMF launched the Data Standards Initiatives to enhance member countries’ data transparency and to promote their development of sound statistical systems. The need for data standards was highlighted by the financial crises of the mid-1990s, in which information deficiencies were seen to play a role. Under the Data Standards Initiatives, the IMF established the SDDS in 1996 to provide guidance to countries that have or seek access to capital markets to disseminate key data so that users in general, and financial market participants in particular, have adequate information to assess the economic situations of individual countries. In 1997, the IMF introduced the GDDS to provide a framework for countries that aim to develop their statistical systems, within which they can work toward disseminating comprehensive and reliable data that, among other things, meet SDDS requirements. In late 2012, the IMF established a third tier of the data standards initiatives with the creation of the SDDS Plus, which builds on the SDDS to guide member countries on the provision of economic and financial data to the public in support of domestic and international financial stability.

As part of the Data Standards Initiatives, and in support of ready access by the public to information on countries’ dissemination practices, the IMF established an electronic bulletin board, called the Dissemination Standards Bulletin Board (DSBB), on the IMF website ( The DSBB posts information that GDDS countries make available to the IMF on their statistical practices and offers direct links to the economic, financial, and sociodemographic data that countries disseminate on their websites. The DSBB also displays information that SDDS subscribers provide to the IMF on their dissemination practices and offers direct links to the economic and financial data that countries disseminate under the SDDS.

Member countries’ subscription to the SDDS, participation in the GDDS, or adherence to the SDDS Plus is voluntary. Countries subscribing to the SDDS or adhering to the SDDS Plus must observe certain good dissemination practices, however, and the IMF monitors such observance. Those participating in the GDDS also have to develop plans to improve their statistics.

Empirical studies suggest that subscription to the SDDS or participation in the GDDS, to varying extents, can help reduce borrowing costs in international capital markets. A number of GDDS countries have graduated to become SDDS subscribers using the GDDS process as a stepping stone. In addition, enhanced data transparency and data quality in member countries have been important to the IMF’s work on surveillance and crisis prevention.



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