By Toby McIntosh
The World Bank July 1 began applying its new disclosure policy, with enhanced web pages and the announcement of the three members on its appeals body.
One of the major reforms in the new policy is the “simultaneous disclosure” to the public of staff recommendations on projects and policies as they are sent to the Executive Board.
In theory, this advance disclosure should open up the Bank decision-making process to greater scrutiny and allow interested persons to participate more. Although the time frame between the submission of staff recommendations and the Board meetings is usually only about two weeks, the additional information should assist those following a proposed action.
Until now, only the information on the Board’s advance agenda provided clues of upcoming activity, and the staff recommendations were confidential.
A special page on simultaneously disclosed documents offers interested parties the opportunity to sign up to receive an e-mail of the latest disclosures. The e-mail cannot currently be segregated by country. As on July 2, no “SD” documents were posted.
The complete list of the latest documents released is on a web page called “Documents and Reports.”
It appears that the list is updated in batches every few days. Recent postings were on June 30, 23, 17, and 15.
The postings on the Documents and Reports page do not necessarily appear on the “country pages” – the separate pages for each borrowing country.
The best starting page to explore the new disclosure policy provides links to the policy and to other pages.
One page focused on recently declassified documents. The page for historic documents allows a search of this collection. “The types of reports are : Five years old or older = Economic and Sector reports, Project reports, Country Focus reports, Completion reports - Twenty years old or older = President’s reports or memoranda,” according to the web page.
Another page allows for online submission of requests. The interface is only in English at this time.
One of the first requests being submitted, by the bank Information Center, is seeking the still nonpublic annexes to the staff handbook that describes the new policy.
Appeals Panel Named
The Bank also announced the names of the three persons who will serve on the new “Access to Information Appeals Board.” The press release explains, “The Board will serve as the second and final stage of the appeal for claims that allege the Bank has unreasonably or improperly denied access to information that it would normally disclose under the policy.
Appeals Board members, whose two-year appointments begin July 1, 2010, are: Wajahat Habibullah, Daniel J. Metcalfe and Olivier Schrameck.
Habibullah is currently the Chief Information Commissioner, Central Information Commission of India, and is an established expert in the area of access to information.
Metcalfe is currently an Adjunct Professor of Law at the Washington College of Law, American University. He has both government and legal expertise in freedom of information issues. Mr. Metcalfe served in the U.S. Department of Justice’s Office of Information and Privacy from its founding in 1981 until his retirement from government service in 2007. He is currently the Executive Director of “Collaboration on Government Secrecy,” a non-partisan academic project devoted to the study of government openness and secrecy.
Schrameck is currently the President of the Conseil d’Etat’s Reports and Studies Section, and is a prominent magistrate of the supreme Administrative Court in France, the French Council of State. He is a renowned expert in matters of legislative drafting, public law (constitutional and administrative law), civil liberties and human rights.
Filed under: IFTI Watch