The Municipal Securities Rulemaking Board expects to obtain approval from the Securities and Exchange Commission soon to launch a pilot of EMMA, its new Electronic Municipal Market Access system, on March 31, so that market participants can begin freely accessing official statements, advance refunding documents, and trade data.

The MSRB submitted a filing to the SEC Friday seeking approval of the startup of the pilot, which initially will just test market participants' ability to access documents and data for free via a new EMMA Web site. The filing amends the proposal the board filed with the commission in November on the pilot program.

Under the pilot, MSRB will make available to market participants the roughly 265,000 official statements, OS amendments, and advance refunding documents it has collected since 1990, and the trade data it has collected since Jan. 31, 2005, along with the same documents and data for any new muni issues.

The data will be searchable by state, six-, or nine-digit Cusips, issuer name, issuer description, maturity date, issue date, or coupon rate, according to MSRB officials. Market participants will be able to pull up offering documents and, at the same time, trade data for the bonds, they said.

Market participants also will be able to search for documents pertaining to the tax-advantaged college savings plans established by states under Section 529 of the federal tax code.

But the officials cautioned that the pilot will just be a trial run.

"This is kind of a first step to get our feet wet, provide information to the public, and get some experience" and feedback, Ernesto A. Lanza, MSRB senior associate general counsel, said Friday. "Access-equals-delivery is not in place yet, so you can't rely on this for purposes of the delivery of official statements."

Under the access-equals-delivery system, which the MSRB hopes to begin operating this summer after obtaining SEC approval, broker-dealers will be able to file official statements for new issues over the new EMMA Web site in lieu of having to send paper copies to investors.

The MSRB will then move forward with the rest of EMMA, which will provide market participants with secondary market disclosure documents. The board plans to be technically capable of starting up that system before the end of the year, but as Lanza said: "That's going to depend on the SEC."

The SEC must first amend its Rule 15c2-12 on disclosure to require secondary market disclosure documents to be filed with the MSRB. EMMA will replace the four existing nationally recognized municipal securities information repositories, as well as the Central Post Office disclosure facility, which is being operated by the Municipal Advisory Council of Texas.

Subscribe Now

Independent and authoritative analysis and perspective for the bond buying industry.

14-Day Free Trial

No credit card required. Complete access to articles, breaking news and industry data.