MSRB Plans All-Electronic Municipal Market Disclosure

Date: March 23, 2009

Contacts:           Jennifer A. Galloway, Chief Communications Officer
                         (703) 797-6600


Alexandria, VA - The Municipal Securities Rulemaking Board (MSRB) today asked the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) for permission to expand its free public access website for municipal primary market disclosure documents and transaction prices, and create a permanent, all-electronic system.  If approved, the MSRB's Electronic Municipal Market Access (EMMA) website, which has been operating for nearly a year on a pilot basis, would become the official public distribution channel for municipal primary market disclosure documents and transparency information.  The MSRB has requested a start date on or around May 11, 2009.

"This is really the moment we have been waiting for," said Ronald A. Stack, Chair of the MSRB. "To say that we are prepared to provide a complete, all-electronic system for investors to obtain disclosure documents and price information on municipal bonds, for free, demonstrates how committed we are to our investor protection mandate."  Chair Stack said that the information available on the expanded EMMA website will give investors access to key documents and data that will help them evaluate their municipal investments.

The MSRB's request to the SEC, in the form of a rule filing, would also require municipal securities dealers to submit primary market disclosure documents to the MSRB electronically.  Currently dealers may submit these documents in paper form or electronically (see MSRB Notice 2009-07).  The MSRB also would establish a real-time subscription to the MSRB's primary market document library, simplifying how information vendors can obtain large amounts of raw data on a timely basis.

To carry out these changes, the SEC must give the MSRB approval to launch the all-electronic standard for official statement dissemination in the municipal securities market.  This standard will allow for significantly faster and broader electronic access by investors and the general public to official statements on EMMA than occurs under the current paper-based system.  The MSRB's request to the SEC also includes a plan to consolidate MSRB rules for dealers on new-issue disclosures.

Since March 2008, the MSRB has been operating EMMA as a transparency tool for investors.  Since then, the website has become more robust with the addition of daily market statistics and interest rate information on municipal auction rate securities.  The MSRB will be adding more data and documents this year, including ongoing disclosures from municipal bond issuers and information about variable rate demand obligations.

The MSRB has requested approval to launch the permanent EMMA system on May 11, 2009.  If final approval is not obtained in time for that date, then the MSRB would launch the permanent EMMA system on a date to be announced by the MSRB that is no earlier than ten business days after SEC approval.

The MSRB protects investors, state and local governments and other municipal entities, and the public interest by promoting a fair and efficient municipal securities market. The MSRB fulfills this mission by regulating the municipal securities firms, banks and municipal advisors that engage in municipal securities and advisory activities. To further protect market participants, the MSRB provides market transparency through its Electronic Municipal Market Access (EMMA®) website, the official repository for information on all municipal bonds. The MSRB also serves as an objective resource on the municipal market, conducts extensive education and outreach to market stakeholders, and provides market leadership on key issues. The MSRB is a self-regulatory organization governed by a 21-member board of directors that has a majority of public members, in addition to representatives of regulated entities. The MSRB is overseen by the Securities and Exchange Commission and Congress.