MSRB NOTICE 2012-06 (FEBRUARY 23, 2012)

MSRB PUBLISHES LONG-RANGE MARKET TRANSPARENCY PLAN

The Municipal Securities Rulemaking Board (“MSRB”) is publishing a long-range plan to guide the evolution of its market transparency products in support of the MSRB’s statutory mission to regulate the municipal market. Read the long-range plan. The plan reflects the MSRB’s careful consideration of the many suggestions it has received over the last several years from market participants and the general public through industry roundtables, MSRB outreach events, targeted meetings, formal and informal letters and other communications, and public feedback through the MSRB’s Electronic Municipal Market Access (EMMA®) website.  The MSRB invites further feedback from all members of the marketplace and the general public. To provide feedback on the plan, the MSRB has established a submission form located on the MSRB’s website. Submit feedback on the long-range plan.[1]  The MSRB will review all comments received and comments submitted will be available for public inspection on the MSRB’s website.

Questions about the long-range plan should be directed to Ernesto A. Lanza, Deputy Executive Director and Chief Legal Officer, at 703-797-6600.

BACKGROUND

The MSRB is the federal regulatory entity with primary responsibility under the Securities Exchange Act of 1934 (the “Exchange Act”) for rulemaking in the municipal securities market.  Under the Exchange Act, the MSRB is charged with adopting rules with respect to transactions in municipal securities effected by brokers, dealers and municipal securities dealers (“dealers”) and advice provided to or on behalf of municipalities or obligated persons by municipal advisors with respect to municipal financial products, the issuance of municipal securities, and solicitations of municipal entities or obligated persons undertaken by municipal advisors.

In addition to its comprehensive body of rules governing the activities of dealers and municipal advisors, the MSRB has undertaken to create various market transparency products in furtherance of its statutory duties.  Historically, the MSRB has operated information systems to collect key disclosure documents and transaction data to create a central warehouse of information that made most of these documents and data available to the marketplace through information feeds to data vendors, industry utilities and others.  The MSRB has also made these resources available to the federal securities and bank regulators charged with examination and enforcement duties with respect to compliance with MSRB rules.  In recent years, the MSRB’s development of its information systems dramatically accelerated and took on a broader approach to the MSRB’s role in disseminating such information upon launching its EMMA website and associated market transparency products.

The MSRB market transparency products currently consist of its EMMA public website at http://emma.msrb.org, serving as the free centralized venue for municipal securities disclosures and data; the EMMA Primary Market Disclosure Service, providing official statements, preliminary official statements, related pre-sale documents, and advance refunding documents; the EMMA Continuing Disclosure Service, providing continuing disclosure documents under Exchange Act Rule 15c2-12 as well as other voluntarily submitted continuing disclosure documents; the Real-Time Transaction Reporting System (RTRS), providing information relating to prices, yields and related data for virtually all customer and inter-dealer transactions in municipal securities; the Short-Term Obligation Rate Transparency (SHORT) System, providing current interest rate information and relevant documentation for auction rate securities and variable rate demand obligations; the Political Contribution Disclosure Program, providing quarterly disclosure filings by underwriters of political contributions made to elected governmental issuer officials, state and local political parties, and bond ballot referenda; and the MSRB’s Municipal Market Research Services, providing statistical data on the municipal securities market.

LONG-RANGE VISION FOR MSRB MARKET TRANSPARENCY PRODUCTS

The long-range plan for market transparency products sets out the MSRB’s vision for the further evolution of its existing and future market transparency products to better fulfill the MSRB’s statutory mandate in an efficient and effective manner that provides the protections expected under the Exchange Act while allowing free market forces to shape marketplace activities, practices and structures.  The key elements of the MSRB’s long-range vision for the next stages of its market transparency products are outlined briefly below. 

Enhanced EMMA Access – “EMMA 2.0” – The core of the long-range vision is an enhanced EMMA website platform – referred to as “EMMA 2.0” – that would serve as the central public dissemination hub.  Key enhancements provided by EMMA 2.0 would consist of the following:

●          Enhanced search functionality

●          Broadened EMMA alerts

●          Integrated display of information

●          Expanded universe of information available

●          New real-time central transparency platform

●          Access to tools and utilities

●          Investor education

●          Free public user accounts

●          Municipal entity resources

●          Tiered professional utilities

Enhanced Collection Portal – The MSRB would seek to streamline its existing document and data submission process, with a strong focus on pursuing a policy of straight-through processing when reliable and cost-effective methods for doing so are available to avoid duplication of effort on the part of submitters and to improve data quality by reducing the opportunities for data entry errors.

Enhanced Dissemination Facility – Traditional MSRB automated subscription feeds would be joined by EMMA tiered web-based professional accounts through which customized feeds could be accessed and customized queries conducted on a long-term subscription basis or on a fee-for-service basis.

February 23, 2012


[1] Comments are posted on the MSRB website without change.  Personal identifying information such as name, address, telephone number, or email address will not be edited from submissions.  Therefore, commenters should submit only information that they wish to make available publicly.