World Bank Reports on Year One of Disclosure Policy

13 March 2012

The World Bank has issued a statistics-filled report on the first year of what it now calls its “radical” disclosure policy, which went into effect in July 2010.

The amount of information available increased, as did the numbers of requests, the Bank shows. Almost 90 percent (89.1) percent of 705 public access requests were fulfilled in whole or in part, according to the report.

Half of all requests came from academic institutions, with another 14 percent from nongovernmental groups or civil society organizations, and 12 percent from the business community.

The report documents the substantial staff training effort on the new policy, indicating that almost 100 percent of the staff was trained, most through a mandatory e-learning program.

Detail in Appendices

Some of the more interesting material is in the attached material.

Appendix A describes documents that were released before Executive Board meetings, one of the changes added to the disclosure regime. The report does not indicate how many such documents were eligible for disclosure. The disclosure policy permits governments to veto pre-meeting release of documents affecting them.

Appendix B lists the cases in which the Bank considered whether to exercise its prerogative to release otherwise restricted material, which it did in about half the instances considered.  Appendix C shows that appeals of decisions by the Access to Information Committee were unsuccessful. The eight decisions are summarized in Appendix D.

Nine policy interpretations are explained in Appendix E, the first stating that procurement information resulting from World Bank-executed trust funds is covered by the “corporate administrative matters” exception of the Access to Information policy, and therefore restricted from disclosure. In the last interpretation, the Bank says the financial information exemption in the policy does not restrict the release of some aggregate financial information about trust funds.

Another interpretation (#6) says that the deliberative information exemption “is applied broadly to include any internal communications and communications with external parties.”

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Filed under: IFTI Watch


In this column, Washington, D.C.-based journalist Toby J. McIntosh reports on the latest developments in information disclosure in International Financial and Trade Institutions (IFTI).
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