World Bank Ready to Disclose Its Contracts; 10 Months Late

31 July 2014

Ten months behind schedule, the World Bank is about to begin the promised disclosure of information about its own contracts, Freedominfo.org has learned from a Bank official.

The information – contractor name, a brief description of services and the contract amount — was to be published on the World Bank Group’s Open Finances website beginning Oct. 1, 2013.

However, a major restructuring within the Bank caused the delay, the official said.

The initial batch of information, expected out “in the next couple of days,” will cover contracts valued at $500,000 dating back to July 1, 2013. Later updates will provide the information on contracts above $250,000, the official said.

In June 2013, Caroline Anstey, then managing director of the World Bank, announced the policy at the closing plenary of the G8 Conference on Tax, Trade and Transparency. (See previous FreedomInfo.org report.) It was supposed to begin Oct. 1, 2013, and cover contracts valued at more than $250,000.

The slipped deadline was noted in an April blog by Charles Kenney, Senior Fellow, Center for Global Development. “Nearly a year after that speech, we’ve seen … not so much,” he wrote, also suggesting other steps on procurement transparency.

Freedominfo.org was told at the time that the disclosures would begin in May.

The Bank has taken a leadership role in a worldwide campaign to encourage “open contracting” and is funding projects on that topic, including standard-setting efforts for contract transparency. The Bank serves on the steering committee of the Open Contracting Partnership.

Quarterly disclosures were planned. Included are contracts let by the World Bank’s General Services’ Corporate Procurement Division. These involve both “administrative procurement” and “operations consulting.” 

The Administrative Procurement website contains the Bank’s solicitations for goods, services and works requirements with an estimated value above $250,000.  For example, one contract with a July 2013 bid date was for “Software Development, Maintenance and Support for the Government of Bangladesh.”

The public information on solicitations is minimal, with the full detail available to qualified bidders. The site does not display solicitations for Operations Consulting site except to approved vendors on the eConsultant2 system.

Anticipating the new disclosures, the Bank had put a note on the site saying:

The World Bank Group reserves the right to publicly disclose contract award information, including but not limited to, name of the vendor receiving the award, a brief description of services, and contract award amount, for any contract award valued over US $250,000 made after July 1, 2013. Offeror’s proposal and contractual documents will remain confidential and therefore not subject to disclosure.

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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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