World Bank Officials Praise Impact of Access Reforms

19 April 2013

The World Bank has decided to bring more openness to its own procurements, an official said April 18.

The Bank will soon make available  information about Bank contracts, notwithstanding an exemption it gave itself in the 2010 access policy, according to Paul Bermingham, who chairs the Access to Information Committee. He also is director, Operational Risk Management, Operations Policy & Country Services.

He and other officials spoke about access at a session conducted on the fringe of the Bank’s annual meeting in Washington.

Improving public access at the World Bank has generated benefits for the organization, the officials said.

“I really was fearful of whether we are up to it,” began Bermingham. After almost three year with the policy now, he said, “It has been an enormous benefit to the institution.”

He and other Bank officials cited efficiency gains, better information in reports, and improvements to data resulting from outside suggestions.

The challenges, they said, are to make information, including data, more usable to beneficiaries, so as to inform policies and improve results.

More Trust Fund Transparency

Bermingham said the Bank plans to make trust funds equally as open as Bank information.  The Bank administers about 1,700 trust funds, sometimes with others, involving almost $30 billion, largely from donor governments. He said access rules will dpend in part on the views of those withwhom the Bank administers trust funds.

The Bank noted this goal in a report several months ago, but has not released details. Available information on the procurement disclosure initiative also is sketchy.

The Bank issued a numbers-filled report describing access policy operations in fiscal 2012, including details on the outcomes of appeals.

Bemingham said the access committee he heads has done a “passable” job of handling appeals, saying he pleads guilty to having a bias for releasing information.

Also newly available is a revised online version of the World Development Indicators.

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ABOUT 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).
Contact: freeinfo@gwu.edu or
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