The IMF has taken steps to enhance member country transparency and openness, including setting voluntary standards for dissemination of economic and financial data. The Special Data Dissemination Standard (SDDS) was established in 1996 to guide members that have, or might seek, access to international capital markets in providing their economic and financial data to the public. The General Data Dissemination System (GDDS) was established in 1997 for member countries with less developed statistical systems as a framework for evaluating their needs for data improvement and setting priorities. In 2012, the SDDS Plus was created as an upper tier of the IMF’s Data Standards Initiatives to help address data gaps identified during the global financial crisis. In 2015 the enhanced GDDS (e-GDDS) replaced the GDDS. More than 97 percent of IMF member countries participate in the e-GDDS, SDDS, or SDDS Plus.
Standards for data dissemination
Data dissemination standards enhance the availability of timely and comprehensive statistics, which contributes to sound macroeconomic policies and the efficient functioning of financial markets.
The e-GDDS Legal Text contains the key modifications of the e-GDDS to the GDDS, and is available on the IMF’s Dissemination Standards Bulletin Board (DSBB).
IMF members that participate in the e-GDDS agree to:
- Commit to using the e-GDDS as a framework for statistical development;
- Designate a country coordinator; and
- Prepare descriptions of current statistical production and dissemination practices and plans for their improvement for posting on the DSBB.
The e-GDDS is designed to assist participants in improving data transparency and governance by publishing essential data for the analysis of macroeconomic conditions. It provides a framework for developing a clear roadmap to achieving higher data dissemination standards at a pace consistent with evolving statistical capacity. It focuses on publication of the data through a standardized platform to improve efficiency in data sharing, while identifying critical gaps to help prioritize technical assistance and donor support. Many countries are using participation in the e-GDDS as a step towards subscription to the SDDS.
The SDDS is a global benchmark for disseminating macroeconomic statistics to the public. SDDS subscription indicates that a country meets the test of “good statistical citizenship.” The SDDS Guide for Subscribers and Users contains details on commitments undertaken by a subscriber, and is available on the Dissemination Standards Bulletin Board (DSBB) of the IMF. Countries that subscribe to the SDDS agree to follow good practices in four areas: the coverage, periodicity, and timeliness of data; public access to those data; data integrity; and data quality.
Subscribing countries commit to:
- Disseminate the data required by the SDDS punctually and with the prescribed periodicity and timeliness on a national webpage, the National Summary Data Page (NSDP), which is hyperlinked to the DSBB of the IMF. A complete list of NSDPs can be accessed by clicking here.
- Provide to the IMF an advance release calendar (ARC) containing release dates for the current month and at least the following three months for each prescribed category of data for posting on the DSBB.
- Provide detailed information about their statistical practices, or metadata, for dissemination on the DSBB. The metadata follow the rigorous format of the Data Quality Assessment Framework (DQAF). The DQAF was developed by the IMF to assess the quality of countries’ economic and financial data. Details about DQAF, are available on the Data Quality Reference Site.
- Certify the accuracy of the metadata on an annual basis.
- The use of standardized electronic reporting procedures to monitor more effectively their observance of the SDDS is also a required undertaking for SDDS subscribers.
Monitoring SDDS observance
The IMF monitors SDDS observance and publishes annual observance reports. The reports review the subscribing countries’ observance of their SDDS undertakings. The reports also include a link to the data module of the Reports on Observance of Standards and Codes where relevant, and refer to IMF staff assessments of data quality in the most recent Article IV reports. Serious and persistent nonobservance of the SDDS are a cause for action. Procedures to be followed in instances of such nonobservance have been approved by the IMF’s Executive Board and in February 2012, a more structured timeline for these procedures was adopted.
The SDDS Plus is the highest tier in the Fund’s Data Standards Initiatives and builds on the progress achieved under the SDDS. It is open to all SDDS subscribers, although it is aimed at economies with systemically important financial sectors. In addition to the requirements under the SDDS, the SDDS Plus emphasizes stronger data dissemination practices to enhance data transparency and help strengthen the international financial system.
The SDDS Plus includes nine additional data categories, which an adhering country commits to observe fully within five years after the date it adheres. Until then, countries may adhere by observing at least five of the nine new data categories. These data categories cover: sectoral balance sheets; general government operations and general government gross debt; the other financial corporations’ survey; financial soundness indicators; debt securities; and participation in the Coordinated Portfolio Investment Survey, the Coordinated Direct Investment Survey, and the Currency Composition of Official Foreign Exchange Reserves exercises. The SDDS Plus Guide for Adherents and Users elaborates on the SDDS Plus requirements.
There are 110 participants in the e-GDDS, 66 SDDS subscribers, and 8 SDDS Plus adherents.