The MSRB’s EMMA website debuted a new tool to help borrowers keep up with ongoing disclosure requirements. Intended to improve disclosure, the new feature may face a legal battle from DAC, a private company with patents on similar functionality.

In A Nutshell…

  • The EMMA website can now send email reminders to borrowers about upcoming disclosure deadlines.
  • The reminder service is designed to help borrowers meet continuing disclosure requirements on a timely basis.
  • EMMA’s new service takes away most of DAC’s value proposition, a private disclosure service.

Announced today, the EMMA system is not rocket science.

Hospitals and other borrowers with continuing disclosure requirements provide EMMA with their filing due dates and a number of days prior to due date for the reminder email. On the dates specified, EMMA sends an email to the account filer and up to 3 additional recipients.

With the exception of the email feature, this new EMMA service hardly provides more functionality than a basic Outlook calendar.

But email reminders turn out to be helpful to borrowers who have trouble keeping up with disclosure deadlines and those concerned about disclosure gaps due to staff turnover.

As rudimentary as it may be, this is not the first system conceived to help borrowers meet continuing disclosure requirements.

In 2007 –two years before EMMA’s birth—the Texas Municipal Advisory Council tried to provide a centralized collection system for secondary market disclosure. Back then, borrowers had to file their disclosure with several nationally-recognized municipal securities information repositories (NRMSIR), which was a cumbersome process.

The MAC figured it was time to launch a “one-stop filing” system complete with email reminders  –and was promptly sued by Digital Assurance Certification (DAC), an Ernst & Young company offering a patented disclosure service with similar features.

In 2009, EMMA replaced the various NRMSIRs, which greatly simplified the disclosure process, but in the process also took away much of DAC’s key value proposition. Still, many hospitals continued to use (and pay for) DAC. Some did it out of habit or because DAC was easier to use, but others found the email reminder actually quite helpful.

If EMMA can offer the same functionality as DAC, borrowers may no longer have a reason to pay for disclosure.