The Data Quality Assessment Framework
Following up on its two data dissemination standards initiatives (SDDS and GDDS-detailed in the following section), and recognizing that the quality of data is of utmost importance if statistics are to serve their purpose, the IMF developed, with the help of the global statistical community, a framework of internationally accepted statistical practices against which to assess the quality of data: the Data Quality Assessment Framework (DQAF). The DQAF covers institutional environments, statistical processes, and characteristics of statistical products. It does so under five dimensions of data quality—assurances of integrity, methodological soundness, accuracy and reliability, serviceability, and accessibility— and a set of prerequisites for data quality. The IMF uses the DQAF to assess the data quality of macroeconomic datasets of economies, with the results published in the Data Module of the Report on Observance of Standards and Codes. Economies can use the DQAF for self-assessments.
The generic DQAF July 2003 serves as an umbrella for seven dataset-specific frameworks, including one for external debt statistics. The External Debt DQAF, has been reviewed and endorsed by the TFFS. Besides English, it is also available in six other languages (Arabic, Chinese, French, Portuguese, Spanish, and Russian). The SDDS subscribers' metadata are available on the DSBB (see below) following the presentation of the External Debt DQAF.
More recently, the Statistics Department of the IMF has initiated a regular comparison of the external debt statistics that economies report to the QEDS database with the corresponding items of their International Investment Position. Economies are notified of significant discrepancies.
Data Dissemination Initiatives
In the aftermath of international financial crises of the 1990's, in which information deficiencies were seen to play a role, the Interim Committee (now called the International Monetary and Financial Committee) of the IMF's Board of Governors endorsed the establishment of a two-tier standard to guide member economies in the provision of economic and financial data to the public.
The first tier, named the Special Data Dissemination Standard (SDDS), was approved by the IMF's Executive Board in March 1996. The other tier, named the General Data Dissemination System (GDDS), was approved in December 1997.
The purpose of the SDDS is to guide IMF member economies in the provision to the public of comprehensive, timely, accessible, and reliable economic and financial statistics in a world of increasing economic and financial integration. The SDDS is geared to those economies that have, or might seek, access to international capital markets. Subscription to the SDDS is voluntary. By subscribing to the SDDS, members undertake to provide the supporting information to the IMF (posted on the Dissemination Standards Bulletin Board-DSBB) and to observe the various elements of the SDDS.
With respect to the external debt data category, the SDDS prescribes the dissemination of quarterly data with a one-quarter lag, covering four sectors (general government, monetary authorities, the banking sector, and other). Furthermore, the data are to be disaggregated by maturity—short- and long-term—and provided on an original maturity basis and by instrument, as set out in BPM5. The SDDS encourages economies to disseminate supplementary information on future debt-service payments, in which the principal and interest components are separately identified, twice yearly for the first four quarters and the following two semesters ahead, with a lag of one quarter. The data should also be broken down into sector—general government, monetary authorities, the banking sector, and other sectors. The dissemination of a domestic/foreign currency breakdown of external debt with quarterly periodicity and timeliness is also encouraged.
The GDDS is a structured process focused on data quality that assists economies in adapting their statistical systems to meet the evolving requirements of the user community in the areas of socio-demographic and macroeconomic statistics. Participating economies voluntarily commit to adhering to sound statistical practices in developing their statistical systems.
The core data category for external debt in the GDDS includes public and publicly guaranteed debt, and the associated debt-service schedules. Recommended practice is that the stock data, broken down by maturity, be disseminated with quarterly periodicity and timeliness of one or two quarters after the reference date. In addition, the associated debt-service schedules should be disseminated twice yearly, within three to six months after the reference period, and with data for four quarters and two semesters ahead. Data on nonguaranteed private debt and debt-servicing schedules, with annual periodicity, are encouraged data categories to be disseminated within six to nine months after the reference period.
Information on data dissemination practices and compilation methodologies ("metadata") is also available on the DSBB. Economies' metadata for external debt statistics can be accessed by clicking on the following links: SDDS subscribers; GDDS participants.