The report on the Observance of Standards and Codes (ROSC) data module provides a review of France’s data dissemination practices against the International Monetary Fund’s (IMF) Special Data Dissemination Standard (SDDS), complemented by an in-depth assessment of the quality of six sets of macroeconomic statistics: national accounts, consumer price and producer price indices, government finance statistics, monetary statistics, and balance of payments statistics. Then, it presents recommendations to achieve improvements in the framework. Serviceability focuses on aspects of datasets, and accessibility deals with the availability of information to users.


The report on the Observance of Standards and Codes (ROSC) data module provides a review of France’s data dissemination practices against the International Monetary Fund’s (IMF) Special Data Dissemination Standard (SDDS), complemented by an in-depth assessment of the quality of six sets of macroeconomic statistics: national accounts, consumer price and producer price indices, government finance statistics, monetary statistics, and balance of payments statistics. Then, it presents recommendations to achieve improvements in the framework. Serviceability focuses on aspects of datasets, and accessibility deals with the availability of information to users.

I. Introduction

1. The data dissemination module of this ROSC provides a summary of France’s practices with respect to the SDDS and is complemented by a summary assessment of the quality of six key macroeconomic datasets using the Data Quality Assessment Framework

(DQAF) developed by the IMF’s Statistics Department (volume I). The underlying detailed assessments (published as volume III of this report) are based on information provided before and during an IMF staff mission1 of March 5-19, 2003. The assessments are also based on publicly available information, as well as on consultation of data users through a survey followed by a face-to-face meeting during the mission. Finally, the report includes France’s response to the assessment (Volume II).

2. Section II of the data dissemination module presents an assessment of France’s data dissemination practices against the SDDS. Section III summarizes an assessment of the quality of the six macroeconomic datasets, using the dataset-specific assessment frameworks of the DQAF. Section IV sets out recommendations to achieve further improvements in France’s macroeconomic statistics.

II. Data Dissemination Practices and the Special Data Dissemination Standard

3. France subscribed to the SDDS on August 8, 1996 and began posting its metadata on the Dissemination Standards Bulletin Board (DSBB) on September 27, 1996 (for a summary of the SDDS, see Appendix 1 of volume III, detailed assessments). Since April 27, 2001, France is in observance of the SDDS, having met the specifications for coverage, periodicity, and timeliness of the data, and for the dissemination of advance release calendars. The Data Template on International Reserves and Foreign Currency Liquidity was hyperlinked to the DSBB on January 24, 2000.2 The National Summary Data Page (NSDP) was hyperlinked to the DSBB on November 16, 2001.

4. Three official institutions are responsible for compiling and disseminating the SDDS-prescribed data categories:

  • INSEE: national accounts, production indices, labor market, price indices, general government operations (through the general government account), merchandise trade, and population.

  • BdF: analytical accounts of depository corporations and of the BdF, balance of payments and international investment position, interest rates, and template on international reserves and foreign currency liquidity.

  • MINEFI: operations and debt of central government.

Euronext compiles the share price indices.

Users may access these data in publications and on the following Internet websites:

Data dimension: coverage, periodicity, and timeliness

5. France meets the SDDS specifications for the data dimension for all data categories, availing itself of flexibility options for the timeliness of the data on central government operations and the industrial production index (see Table 1).

Table 1.

France: Overview of Current Practices Regarding Coverage, Periodicity, and Timeliness of Data Compared to the Special Data Dissemination Standard (SDDS)

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Note: Periodicity and timeliness: (D) daily; (W) weekly or with a lag of no more than one week from the reference data or the closing of the reference week; (M) monthly or with a lag of no more than one month; (Q) quarterly or with a lag of no more than one quarter; (A) annually; and (…) not applicable.

Given that the data are broadly disseminated by private means, the timeliness with which official data are disseminated is not time critical.

Access dimension

6. France meets the SDDS requirements for access to data by the public. It disseminates advance release calendars that meet the SDDS requirements both in hard copy as well as on INSEE and BdF websites. And it supplements these advance release calendars by a quarter-ahead presentation of release dates on the DSBB.

7. The agencies release data simultaneously to all interested parties, generally via press releases, the agencies’ websites, and France’s National Summary Data Page. The page is maintained by INSEE at

Integrity dimension

8. As required by the SDDS, information on the terms and conditions that govern the collection, compilation, and dissemination of data, including the confidentiality of the data collected, is available.

9. On the DSBB, France discloses modalities of internal government access to the data before public release. According to these metadata, France provides internal access to the data prior to public release, not earlier than 24 hours before release, to the following: the Minister of the MINEFI (national accounts, production index, employment, unemployment, wages/earnings, consumer price index (CPI), producer price index (PPI), operations of the general government, international reserves, merchandise trade, and balance of payments); the Minister of Labor (employment, unemployment, wages/earnings); and the Foreign Trade Minister (merchandise trade).

10. Ministerial comments are sometimes made at the time of dissemination of the national accounts, the CPI, the labor market, and the general government statistics, while the balance of payments is released in a bulletin published under the dual auspices of the MINEFI and the BdF. The source of the comments is flagged as being distinct from the data source for the national accounts, the CPI, and the balance of payments (as of March 2003), but not for the general government statistics.

Quality dimension

11. The French statistical authorities provided the IMF 17 of the 21 summary methodology statements3 called for as part of subscription to the SDDS and these were posted on the DSBB as of March 2003. In addition, the concerned institutions disseminate methodological information for most of the data covered by the SDDS.

12. French statistical authorities also disseminate subaggregates and additional series that make possible cross-checks and checks of reasonableness for all data categories.

Monitoring of data

13. The IMF staff began in July 2000 monitoring subscribers’ performance under the SDDS with regard to the dates stated in the advance calendar releases and the metadata. This verifies not only that the data are disseminated according to the calendar, but also that the data disseminated correspond to the metadata on the DSBB. France’s dissemination practices are in observance of the SDDS.

III. Summary Assessment of Data Quality

14. Interest in assessing the quality of data derives from the need to complement the SDDS by focusing more closely on the quality of the data that underpin surveillance of countries’ economic policies. Against this background, the Statistics Department of the IMF has developed a tool, the Data Quality Assessment Framework (DQAF), to provide a structure and a common language to assess data quality. The DQAF comprises a generic framework and dataset-specific frameworks. The frameworks cover five dimensions of data quality—integrity, methodological soundness, accuracy and reliability, serviceability, and accessibility—and a set of prerequisites. ROSC data modules typically include an assessment of the quality of six datasets—national accounts, consumer price index, producer price index, government finance statistics, monetary statistics, and balance of payments—carried out using the DQAF.4

15. The conclusions from the application of the DQAF by the IMF to the French statistical system are presented below, following the structure of the DQAF. The detailed assessments of each dataset (volume III) support the conclusions. Also, the conclusions are presented in the form of standardized summary tables, in which the data practices are assessed on a qualitative basis that uses a four-part scale (Table 2 of this data module and, in volume III, Tables 1-6).

Table 2.

France—Data Quality Assessment Framework—Summary Presentation of Results

Key to symbols: NA = Not Applicable; O = Practice Observed; LO = Practice Largely Observed; LNO = Practice Largely Not Observed; NO = Practice Not Observed.

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16. In summary, France’s macroeconomic statistics are of high quality. They are comprehensive, timely, and accurate and, thus, are adequate to conduct effective surveillance of economic policy.

Prerequisites of quality

This category in the DQAF identifies conditions within the agency in charge of producing statistics that have an impact on data quality. The elements within the category refer to the legal and institutional environment, resources, and quality awareness.

17. Both INSEE and the BdF conduct their statistical operations under the legal and institutional environment provided by the CNIS as well as the European Commission (EC) and the ECB. The CNIS, which has its origins in Law No. 51-711 of June 7, 1951, as amended, plays a major role in coordinating the statistical production, largely upstream, of France’s decentralized statistical system. The CNIS works to encourage the use of administrative data in statistics compilation, to coordinate the needs for survey data, to provide for the confidentiality of individual data, and to establish statistical reporting requirements and measures. The measures range from setting out penalties to ensuring the quality of survey operations. While much of the coordination focuses on the early phases of the statistical process, further coordination at the level of the statistical outputs could be reinforced given France’s statistical decentralized system.

18. France’s memberships in the EU and the EMU have in many cases merely confirmed practices firmly anchored in France’s strong statistical tradition (such as confidentiality safeguards for individual data). As in other EMU countries, the impact on statistical practices has been greater in those areas where there has been a transfer of responsibility, such as the conduct of monetary policy. The impact has also been felt where the statistics are now central to objectives, such as those expressed for the Stability and Growth Pact (SGP) or the established goal of keeping annual inflation under a threshold. The impact highlights the need not only to have accurate statistics, but also to guard vigorously the independence of statisticians and shield them from pressures or temptation to arrive at “acceptable” figures. In other cases, the EU/EMU requirements call for disseminating more timely and frequent data (e.g., quarterly government finance data) than national practices do. Finally, for data compilation methods, the EU/EMU may specify methodological guidelines and otherwise leave substantial room for national practices.

19. Among the datasets assessed in this report, INSEE is responsible for the national accounts, consumer and producer price indices, and government finance statistics, which are produced as part of the national accounts. The agency produces these datasets in a context that is specific to the French statistical system, with administrative ministries (statistical services of the ministries, SSM) and other data producing agencies actively involved in data production. On the basis of legal texts that date back to 1946, as well as to the 1951 law, INSEE, the major statistical agency in France, plays an important role in harmonizing these statistical operations. It provides the secretarial support for the CNIS; seconds its personnel to the SSM and other data producing agencies; and encourages the use of common registers, concepts, and nomenclatures. The responsibility of INSEE is clearly recognized for national accounts and price indices but could be further clarified for government finance statistics from that of the MINEFI, which also closely cooperates in the compilation process.

20. Overall, for the four datasets, resources are adequate and procedures indicate quality awareness. In national accounts, the delicate trade-off between the expertise required (because of the complexity of the accounts) and the mobility needs of staff for career development purposes could be at times better balanced. Furthermore, insufficient resources are allocated to revamping the computer system for the annual accounts, which makes it difficult to carry out statistical studies of these accounts, such as consistency of time series and data revisions. The current system allows for consistency checks across variables but does not easily lend itself to comparisons over time, changes in nomenclatures, adjustments, or revision studies.

21. The BdF has the mandate to produce the monetary and balance of payments statistics. The BdF’s authority to collect information from monetary financial institutions stems from the 1984 banking law and the Monetary and Financial Code, further formalized recently within the BdF. While the BdF is responsible for compiling the balance of payments, the statistics are initially disseminated via a press release of the MINEFI co-signed by the BdF (prior to 2001, it was signed only by the MINEFI). The balance of payments statistical tables on the MINEFI website identify the Ministry as the source, leaving the wrong impression of its involvement in the data compilation.5 The BdF should continue to actively pursue ways to share data with the rest of the French statistical system, notably for balance of payments with the national accounts and this could be pursued through the joint BdF-INSEE task force on eliminating discrepancies with national accounts.

22. Within the European framework, the BdF’s statistical authority is conferred by the charter of the ESCB and the ECB; the regulations governing the collection of information required for the performance of the ESCB’s responsibilities; as well as other pertinent regulations.

23. BdF’s resources are commensurate with the workload of the statistical program. The BdF recognizes the importance of quality awareness at several levels. Information systems adequately inform staff of the resource needs for developing and implementing statistical action plans. Day-to-day, staff monitor and supervise data collection and processing through efficient computer systems. Committees and procedures, at the national and European levels, further support and promote the various aspects of data quality.


Integrity identifies features that support firm adherence to objectivity in the collection, compilation, and dissemination of statistics so as to maintain uses’ confidence. Elements refer to the professionalism and ethical standards that should guide policies and practices, which should be reinforced by their transparency.

24. INSEE and the BdF maintain a very high degree of professionalism. This degree results from the quality of the recruitment and training provided by the French higher education system—and in particular the École nationale de la statistique et de l’administration économique. The two institutions base their choices of statistical techniques and sources exclusively on statistical criteria. However, comments on the misinterpretation of statistics are not part of the institutions’ outreach strategy; the agencies favor instead a preventive and educational approach with the media.

25. The transparency of statistical policies and practices is strengthened by the CNIS publishing the annual statistical programs of the data producing agencies, as well as substantial documentation covering a broad range of topics related to statistical production. Each data table identifies the data producing agency. The macroeconomic statistics are provided to the government prior to their release to the public, and, in the case of aggregate data on monetary financial institutions, to the ECB. Except via the DSBB, the public is not informed, however, of the government’s access to the data before their official release, nor of the period of access prior to release. Changes are generally explained when they are implemented, but there are also times when they are announced in advance (e.g., the conceptual changes of the latest rebasing of the national accounts that were presented to the press, the CNIS and other users).

26. While there are civil service codes and related practices, INSEE does not have specific instructions to remind the staff to comply with ethical standards. On the other hand, there is a well-entrenched tradition whereby professionalism and independence are perceived as prerequisites for producing statistics. This is well exemplified by the custom whereby the Director General of INSEE who, although appointed by the Council of Ministers, remains in office for a period that extends beyond the government’s term of office.

27. The charters of the ESCB and the BdF confirm the BdF’s full autonomy from government authorities. Statutory provisions applicable to the staff, and recently complemented by a code of ethics dealing with financial matters, guarantee the independence of statistical production. However, even though the staff are cognizant of them, no single document summarizes the ethical standards, making their access more difficult.

Methodological soundness

Methodological soundness refers to the application of international standards, guidelines, and agreed practices. Application of such standards, which are specific to the dataset, is indicative of the soundness of the data and fosters international comparability. Elements refer to the basic building blocks of concepts and definitions, scope, classification and sectorization, and basis for recording.

28. The European System of Accounts (ESA 95) provides the conceptual framework for compiling national accounts. In terms of scope, the French national accounts comprise all the prescribed or recommended annual and quarterly accounts, including the complete sequence of accounts for the institutional sectors (with financial accounts and balance sheets) at annual intervals. France also builds an annual input-output (IO) table. Gross Domestic Product is estimated through the production, the expenditure, and the income approaches, even though a single estimate is published. The compilation of the annual accounts is essentially based on the IO table. Quarterly accounts are estimated by a similar method, but with a smaller IO table. The delineation of production and assets as well as the principles of classification, sectorization, and basis for recording comply with ESA 95 guidelines. The French national accounts are very comprehensive, notably regarding the measurement of production and value added that are systematically adjusted upward, by activity and sector, to take into account tax evasion and informal market activity.

29. The compilation of price indices at INSEE confirms France’s reputation for a high degree of methodological soundness in price statistics and may serve as model for many countries. The concepts, definitions, and basis for recording of the CPI follow most of the ESA 95 principles and EU regulations pertaining to the harmonized index of consumer prices. The scope of the CPI encompasses the expenditures of all resident households. Expenditures are classified in accordance with the classification of individual consumption by purpose (COICOP). The basket used to calculate the CPI is of an appropriate size, comprising 305 sets of goods and services, whose annual weights come from the national accounts.

30. The concepts and definitions underlying the PPI are in line with those in ESA 95 and Council Regulation (EC) No. 1165/98 concerning short-term statistics in the recording and valuing of prices and weights. The scope of the PPI encompasses all resident enterprises engaged in commercial activity. In line with the EU regulation that recommends the use of factory gate prices, the scope of the PPI does not include changes in inventories. Likewise, the PPI does not include own-account production for final consumption, unlawful sales to willing buyers, and services. The classification of establishments and products by activity follows international standards. The same is true of the basis for recording prices and of the weights of products intended for the domestic market, excluding the value added tax and transport costs.

31. The concepts, definitions, scope, and valuation methods used for the annual statistics of the general government account conform with those recommended by ESA 95 and the ESA 95 Manual on Deficit and Debt. However, these statistics are prepared only as part of the government sector in the national accounts, and not within a comprehensive and integrated government finance framework. The latter could be constructed from various components of the national accounts: flows of transactions (revenues, expenditures, and financing), other economic flows (revaluations and changes in volume), and balance sheets as well as debt. Classifications follow national accounts guidelines rather than those of the Government Finance Statistics Manual 2001.

32. The analytical framework for monetary statistics relies on concepts, definitions and scope broadly in line with the recommendations of the Monetary and Financial Statistics Manual (MFSM). The classification of financial assets and the sectorization of institutional units are generally in line with MFSM recommendations, except for certain derivatives that are not recorded in the balance sheet and monetary financial institutions (MFIs) that are not apportioned by type of creditor or debtor—whether national central bank, other components of the ESCB, or other MFIs. Likewise, no detail is provided on the claims on governments of the BdF and other MFIs, hampering the identification of operations with the central government. The basis for recording of flows and stocks broadly follows international standards, except for certain securities held through to maturity and issued debt instruments which are not at market prices. In accordance with the MFSM, financial operations are recorded on the basis of their gross value inclusive of accrued interest.

33. The statistical authorities prepare the balance of payments in conformity with the concepts and definitions of the Balance of Payments Manual, 5th edition (BPM5). Major construction-related service projects are treated as services, however, rather than as direct investment. The authorities follow the principles set forth in BPM5 with respect to scope and classification of transactions; however, direct investment transactions, referred to as “reverse investment,” are usually not recorded under direct investment, except for specific cases retreated manually. For most categories, the highly detailed classification facilitates monthly cross-checks by group of activities/transactions, which are extremely useful for national accounts purposes. In addition, the authorities value stocks of portfolio investment and direct investment at market prices, with the latter also available at book value. However, the adjustments made for accrued coupons for bonds overestimate gross income from holding of debt securities for selected transactions, although net income remains unbiased.

Accuracy and reliability

Accuracy and reliability identifies features that contribute to the goal that data portray reality. Elements refer to identified features of the source data, statistical techniques, and supporting assessments and validation.

34. The data sources for national accounts (surveys and administrative data) are very comprehensive, and exploited systematically. The Système intermédiaire d’entreprises, which incorporates tax-related and survey-related data, includes individual statements for the 100,000 largest nonfinancial firms and allows for in-depth validation. Staff compile the accounts using sound statistical techniques and nomenclatures sufficiently detailed for the results to correctly reflect trends. A broad range of quality price indices underlies the volume estimates. However, merchandise trade is deflated using unit value indices, because explicit price indices are not generally available. Moreover, in both the annual and quarterly accounts, statistical data are used only to a minimal extent to estimate changes in stocks, which are otherwise derived residually. The quarterly accounts are estimated and disseminated in an unadjusted version, as well as in a version adjusted for trading days and seasonal variations, with adjustment techniques applied uniformly. The use of the three approaches to compile the GDP allows staff to further assess and validate data. Staff use the results of revision studies effectively to improve subsequent estimates.

35. Source data for prices and weights of the CPI consist of surveys with exceptionally broad coverage. Except for Corsica, France carries out the monthly price survey in all regions during the whole month. This approach is noteworthy given that most countries carry out their survey only during part of the month. The agency makes approximately 200,000 observations each month, which compares well with other countries of similar size in the EU. The statistical techniques used to calculate the index, as well as the assessment and validation during the process are adequate. Revision studies as such are not applicable since the definitive CPI is never revised; however, the agency carries out technical studies regularly to improve the methodology.

36. For the PPI, France updates the list of products and weights on a five-year cycle. The source data on prices and weights also come from wide-ranging surveys. The agency surveys approximately 24,000 prices monthly, during the whole month. Products no longer sold are generally replaced with similar products, and the changes in prices of the two products are linked. Products that are completely new are not incorporated until the time of the next renewal of the list. The statistical techniques used are sound. However, regarding assessment and validation, no computerized method is applied systematically to detect potential measurement errors in the PPI. The index is preliminary for six months, although it is generally stabilized after three months. With source data fully incorporated early in the statistical process, revision studies would not have a statistical impact.

37. The source data for the annual statistics on the accounts of the general government are derived from the public accounts for the operations of central government and local government, and from the income statements and balance sheets for other central government agencies and social security entities. The Directorate General of Public Accounting of the MINEFI transcribes the public accounts data on a national accounts basis. These data are then adjusted and validated by the BdF (financial accounts) and by INSEE (nonfinancial accounts). The statistical techniques are sound and, insofar as the accounting data are compiled on a cash basis, the agencies adjust these data to reflect transactions on an accrual basis. INSEE assesses and validates the data, among other things, by combining the accounts of the general government with those for other institutional sectors (thereby ensuring consistency across sectors and the various statistical areas). Each year, revisions are accounted for and analyzed for internal use; however, few revision studies are made of long-term series. Should quarterly government accounts be compiled on the basis of estimates for missing accounting data, a greater use of revision studies would help to ensure the reliability of such provisional results.

38. The BdF collects source data for monetary statistics by extensively covering depository corporations and other MFIs. The data span the entire spectrum of financial assets and economic sectors and are also sufficiently detailed to allow an accurate classification of all financial assets and all institutional sectors. In particular, the MFI sector is adequately subdivided into “central bank” and “other depository corporations.” The statistical techniques are sound and yield reliable results. The following factors all contribute to the reliability of monetary statistics: computerized systems for source data reporting and processing, the automated validation modules, the quality of the documentation, and the periodic assessment and validation of source data, intermediate data, and final results. Staff regularly carry out revision studies to identify the main causes of discrepancies between provisional data and final data.

39. The balance of payments source data come from a comprehensive international transactions reporting system (ITRS), complemented with surveys. The procedures in place effectively address the usual problems associated with the ITRS. However, following an EU recommendation, the implementation of a threshold of 12,500 euros in the ITRS has led to a loss of information on transactions of households and small businesses. A redesign of the data collection system, spanning 2004 to 2006, should help to remedy this deficiency. The procedures for assessing and validating source data and intermediate data are exhaustive and systematically applied. The procedure for validating statistical outputs, which entails frequent referrals to the source data, enhances overall accuracy. The statistical techniques are well founded, and regular revision studies guide the choice of statistical collection and adjustment methods.


Serviceability focuses on practical aspects of how well a dataset meets users’ needs. Elements refer to the extent to which data are relevant, produced, and disseminated in a timely fashion with appropriate periodicity, are consistent internally and with other datasets, and follow a predictable revisions policy.

40. INSEE ensures that statistical outputs for national accounts are relevant through discussions about the statistical program within the CNIS (which includes data users and producers) and frequent contacts with the various user constituencies (government, academia, business). However, there is no organized forum solely devoted to consulting users of national accounts. The timeliness of the preliminary quarterly accounts (50 days) is in conformity with the SDDS. The periods of revision of the annual and quarterly accounts differ and the revision policy is not clearly disseminated. The latter would be more transparent if the period of revision of the quarterly accounts was aligned on that of the annual accounts. INSEE makes revision studies public for the quarterly accounts; however, for the annual accounts, where revisions are much smaller, the need for such studies is very limited. In regard to data consistency, the series within the national accounts are fully integrated. Time series based on ESA 95 are available at annual and quarterly frequencies beginning from 1978. There are inconsistencies between the rest of the world account in the national accounts and the balance of payments. The publications identify the statistics as being preliminary, but revised data are not identified as such.

41. The CPI and PPI meet users’ needs. The staff monitor the relevance and consistency of these data in various ways. Apart from discussion within the CNIS, there is no organized group of users. However, users offer numerous comments, both directly and indirectly—for instance, to INSEE Information Service. The PPI Internet site is heavily used (approximately 20,000 visitors per month). The indices meet the SDDS requirements for timeliness and periodicity. The revision policy and practices for both indices is disseminated: the CPI is published in a definitive version in full detail on the 25th day of the following month (a provisional version, limited to few items, is provided 12 days following the month). This is unlike the PPI which is revised up to the sixth month following the reference month.

42. The relevance of the statistics for the general government accounts is evidenced by their wide use by the government authorities and the public at large for, among other things, monitoring deficit and debt criteria for EU purposes. However, as pointed out by many users, the usefulness of these statistics could be enhanced by adapting them in a fiscally oriented publication. Such a framework would show more detailed links between national accounts-based statistics and administrative data on Treasury operations, including budget revenues, expenditures, and financing. The degree of detail could be improved, particularly by completing the work on the introduction of a functional classification as well as on the production of data with quarterly periodicity. The statistics are annual and published in full scope (data on revenue, expenditure, and financing) at the latest six months after the reference period, in accordance with the periodicity and timeliness of the SDDS. As for France’s monthly figures on central government budget operations, they are published 40 days after the end of the reference month, that is 10 days beyond the SDDS recommendation. As part of the national accounts, the statistics are consistent and follow the same pattern as the annual national accounts. Furthermore, the revision policy is that of the annual national accounts. As is the case for national accounts, the statistics are identified as being preliminary, but not as being revised.

43. The relevance of monetary statistics is assured through various means. Their usefulness for certain users (ECB and the General Directorate of Economics and International Relations of the BdF) are checked periodically. The BdF has implemented a permanent consultation procedure with the ECB and a regular procedure with other institutions, the banking and financial community, and academia. The timeliness and periodicity are consistent with the SDDS. The BdF releases its data within a period of two weeks after the reference data and disseminates the data on other monetary financial institutions within one month after the reference date. The data are both internally consistent and consistent across time periods. Data revision policy and practice follow precise procedures in line with the principles and guidelines established by the ECB. The aggregate position for the MFIs, apart from the central bank, is provisional for one or two months. Users are notified that the first data published are preliminary and subject to revision. The revisions derive mostly from the replacement of provisional source data with final source data. The most significant revisions and their causes are highlighted.

44. One step taken to ensure the relevance of balance of payments statistics is the presentation of the annual balance of payments statistical program to the committee (‘formation’) of CNIS. Another is the participation in the Commission des comptes et budgets économiques de la Nation and in various task forces or committees of Eurostat, the ECB, and the EU Commission. Data timeliness and periodicity are in line with the ECB requirements, more stringent than those of the SDDS. Balance of payments data are consistent with monetary statistics, but discrepancies remain between the current account and the account for the rest of the world in the national accounts; the two agencies have created a task force to harmonize these series. Annual series broadly in line with the BPM5 classification are available beginning from 1946. The BdF publicizes the revision policy adopted in 2002 and identifies the status of each series in the statistical tables. However, few revision studies or analyses are made public.


Accessibility deals with the availability of information to users. Elements refer to the extent to which data and metadata are clear and easily available and to which assistance to the user is adequate to help them find and use the data.

45. The national accounts are readily accessible. The hard copy publications give quite a clear presentation of statistics, as well as commentary, tables, and graphics that facilitate analysis. The accompanying CD-ROMS are well-organized and include long series in two formats—HTML and Excel. However, some series are presented in the form of indices or trends, reducing their usefulness compared to series expressed as levels. They are published in accordance with calendars announcing the release two months as well as two weeks beforehand, with the exact date provided one week in advance. The data are made available to all users at the same time. The publications contain metadata, glossaries, and nomenclatures. A large number of series, including detailed data, are published free of charge on INSEE’s Internet site. In recent publications, however, the producing unit and contact persons are not identified, reflecting INSEE’s centralization of assistance to users, with requests forwarded to the producing units when applicable. Every year, INSEE updates its catalog of publications, documents, and other services it provides, indicating any charges involved and how to order.

46. The INSEE Internet site contains detailed data for the CPI for the past 13 months, with longer series provided in aggregate only; access to these longer-term data or to metadata is not very user-friendly. On the other hand, users may easily access (for the past 36 months) both data and metadata for the PPI on INSEE’s Internet site as well as in the publication Les Indices de prix de vente industriels et des services aux entreprises. INSEE disseminates the CPI and the PPI in accordance with a regular calendar; all users receive the data at the same time. The monthly publications contain sufficient detail regarding indices. User support is available for the two indices. In terms of assistance to users, the CNIS and the PPI website “Indices Pro” indicate the names of contact persons, but the statistical publications do not.

47. Data accessibility for government finance statistics is good. INSEE disseminates the statistics for the general government in accordance with an advance release calendar. The Rapport sur les comptes de la Nation includes metadata in the form of methodological explanations; however, the exhaustive sources and methods—which do not appear to be confidential—are not systematically released to the public, though they can often be obtained upon request. As is the case of national accounts, contact persons are not identified; this is especially confusing as the various MINEFI units involved in the compilation are also identified along with INSEE in the publication releases. Catalogs, either in hard-copy form or on-line, supply lists of available documents. The statistics disseminated on INSEE’s Internet site extend from 1978 to the penultimate year available (data for the latest year are available only for a fee).

48. Monetary statistics are readily accessible on the Internet site of the BdF and its regular publications. A calendar of advance release dates is published. Data are disseminated to all interested parties simultaneously, and nonpublished data are made available free of charge. Access to metadata is provided by means of the BdF statistical publications as well as the Internet sites of the ECB and the BdF. User support is rapid and efficient. Each publication, and each statistical table inside each publication, include the contact information of the data producing unit. A catalog of publications is available on the BdF’s Internet site as well as in complimentary hard-copy form.

49. The BdF’s Internet site greatly facilitates access to balance of payments data and metadata as it contains the most recent edition of the Bulletin de la Banque de France, the annual report La balance des paiements et la position extérieure de la France, as well as detailed methodological notes. It also gives access free of charge to numerous balance of payments series and an advance release calendar. Data and metadata are also available on the MINEFI’s website. The quality of the presentation and analysis of balance of payments statistics, particularly in the annual report, makes it easier to understand recent developments. User support is a priority; each statistical table identifies the unit responsible for its preparation and a telephone number. The Internet site indicates to whom users should send any request for information and each request is logged. A catalog of BdF publications, indicating the cost of products, is published annually.

IV. Staff Recommendations

50. On the basis of the results of the data quality assessment, discussions with data-producing agencies in France, and user feedback (see Appendix III of the detailed assessments), the following measures have been proposed to strengthen conformity to international standards and enhance the analytical usefulness of France’s macroeconomic data.

General Recommendations

  • Offer a statistical map to help users identify the available statistical outputs; in this regard, actively pursue the idea of a statistics portal. In a decentralized statistical system, coordination is just as important for data dissemination as for data collection.

  • Promote a broader understanding of statistical revisions by publishing revision studies, to familiarize users with the workings of the statistical process.

  • Inform the public that the government has access to statistics prior to their publication, specifying the precise time at which the government gains access thereto.

  • Increase the coordination for all agencies dealing with the SDDS.


  • Ensure that the status of statistics (whether preliminary, semi-final, or final) is clearly identified in publications.

  • Ensure that the data-producing unit is identified in publications (at the foot of tables, for example) including a telephone number and e-mail address.

  • Post on the Internet more documentation on the methodologies for macroeconomic series.

National Accounts


  • Allocate greater resources for implementing a new computer system for annual accounts.

  • Make greater use of survey data on stocks to measure changes in stocks, instead of calculating them residually, in the annual and the quarterly accounts.

  • Align the period of revision of the quarterly accounts on that of the annual accounts and make the revision policy known to the public.

Other recommendations

  • Expedite the production of explicit price indices for exports and imports of goods.

  • Improve the breakdown of intermediate consumption by product.

  • Explore the possibility of making quarterly accounts more consistent with annual accounts with respect to volume measurement.

  • Review the deflation of exports and imports of services, making better use of balance of payments source data.

  • Adopt a more structured approach toward consultations with users.

Consumer Price Indices


  • Update the methodological guide on the consumer price index in hard-copy form and on the INSEE website.

  • Disseminate longer time series on the INSEE website.

  • Disseminate information on anticipated major changes in advance.

  • Envisage publicly identifying more details in the commodities selected (known as variety).

  • In the methodology available to the public, explain the method used to calculate utility prices, using notional examples.

Producer Price Index


  • Establish a computerized method for evaluating potential measurement errors in the procedures for the PPI, to be used systematically.

Other recommendations

  • Regard the index as being final three months after the reference date, instead of six months, given the negligible differences between the two versions.

  • Explore the possibility of developing a module for detecting anomalous price shifts in the new automatic price collection system.

Consumer and Producer Price Indices


  • Introduce closer cooperation between the two price divisions. Although their source data and part of their methodologies differ significantly, there are fairly substantial similarities in other aspects of these indices, leading to synergies that could benefit both divisions and also other units working on price indices.

Government Finance Statistics


  • Produce a publication focusing on government finance, comprising such as the following:

    • –tables of flows and stocks according to a “government finance” framework similar to the one in the Government Finance Statistics Manual 2001;

    • –more detailed revenue and expenditure tables;

    • –a table on cash-based revenues, expenditures, and financial flows;

    • –bridge tables for the main aggregates between government accounting data and the account of the central government (“État”) subsector; and

    • –a bridge table between tax and budget nomenclatures, and ESA 95 classifications.

  • Complete and disseminate statistics on general governments on a quarterly basis.

  • Identify in a clearer manner assistance to users.

Monetary Statistics


  • Extend the general principle of market valuation for items in the balance sheet, preparing a detailed summary table of deviations from MFSM methodology.

  • Record all financial derivatives in the balance sheet.

  • In the survey for the BdF and in the aggregate survey for other resident MFIs, refine the sectorization of claims on and liabilities to all MFIs to distinguish between the central government, central bank, other components of the ESCB, and other MFIs.

Balance of Payments


  • Identify the BdF as the producer of the statistics in the statistical tables published by the MINEFI.6

  • Revise the adjustments for accrued coupons (“coupons courus”) on transactions in bonds to better measure investment income.

  • Pursue the efforts of the joint DBDP-INSEE task force to achieve greater coherence between the balance of payments current account and the rest of the world account in the national accounts.

Other recommendations

  • Pursue the integration of the balance of payments production process into the French statistical system, notably through exchanges of source data.

  • Publish revision studies and analyses regularly.


The mission was headed by Ms. Lucie Laliberté and included Messrs. Vincent Marie, Pierre Papadacci, René Piché (all STA), Mrs. Gylliane Gervais and Mr. John Astin (Experts), and Mr. Henry Wright (Administrative Assistant, STA).


Available since June 1999, but certified in observance of the SDDS in January 2000.


Excluding the forward-looking indicators, central government operations, central government debt and interest rates.


See Appendix II of volume III for the generic framework. Further information on data quality can be found at the IMF’s “Data Quality Reference Site” (


This situation was fully corrected by end-March 2003.


Implemented as of end-March 2003.