World Bank Notes Fifth Anniversary of Access Policy

2 July 2015

The World Bank’s access to information policy (AI) has turned five years old, an anniversary recognized by the Bank with a blog posting, a press release and a short quiz.

The blog post cites two examples on how Bank information is used and requests other examples. The posting also includes an infographic.

The posting says:

The policy has served as a catalyst and has created an ecosystem of transparency initiatives to make World Bank information and data available to the public. In the years since 2010, the Bank has applied the principles underpinning Access to Information to accompanying initiatives such as Open Data, the Open Knowledge Repository, Open Finances, and Open Contracting, among others.

A Bank press release emphasizes the number of documents downloaded from the Bank website and the increased number of available documents.

For the fiscal year ending June 30, 2015, the Documents & Reports database received more than 2.4 million visits, and users viewed approximately 8 million pages and downloaded close to 1.6 million documents. During the same period, over 65 million visits were made to the Data websites with more than 250 million page views.

The interactive Knowledge Quiz poses 10 questions, six concerning access to information.

Numbers of Requests Documented

The last report on the AI policy covered the Bank’s fiscal year 2104, ending June 30, 2014. In that period, the Bank received 420 new public access requests and continued to handle 83 cases from previous fiscal years. Of the requests, the World Bank fulfilled (in whole or in part) 89 percent.

The number of requests decreased by 39 percent compared with FY 2013 (685 requests).

“This decrease in number of requests submitted to the World Bank is mostly due to the increased availability of public documents on the World Bank’s website and it’s enhanced search function and navigability,” according to the report.

Regarding another reform made in the 2010 policy – documents disclosed just before Board documents — the report said that in FY 2014, the World Bank “simultaneously disclosed” 108 such documents.

The Bank maintains a summary of requests, the latest being for May of 2015, with 11 entries, most for older records.

The Bank does not disclose which requests have been denied in part of in whole, but some hints of those can be seen in the listing of decisions by the internal appeals committee, 38 over five years. Three matters were appealed in 2015, all denied:

  1. Case No. AI3613: Documents of the Task Force on Private Foreign Investment of the Joint Development Committee of the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund (Decision dated May 21, 2015) 
  2. Case No. AI3560: Ethiopia Voluntary Resettlement Program, Diagnostic Mission, June 10 to 22 2004: Aide Memoire (Decision dated February 26, 2015) 
  3. Case No. AI3487: Internal Bank memo to files from A.S.G. Hoar on Anglo-Iranian Oil, November 23, 1951 (Decision dated February 26, 2015)

The Access to Information Appeals Board, a group of three outside experts, has heard three appeals, twice backing the internal committee. In June 2014, the board supported a FreedomInfo.org request for access to request letters. (See FreedomInfo.org article.)

Access to Archival Materials Triggered

The fifth anniversary triggers potential disclosure of certain older documents, specifically related to Board of Governors documents and records. The policy sets out schedules for the release of  materials after different time periods, mostly after 20 years. Some however, are now available, for example: “Minutes of Board Committee meetings prepared before July 1, 2010, other than those of Executive Sessions and Restricted Executive Sessions.” (See paragraph 33 of the access policy and also in the separate Policy Directive.)

The five year anniversary also makes eligible for release documents prepared after July 1, 2010, that are classified as “Official Use Only” and listed in the annex. The annex includes documents such as “Project Appraisal Documents” and “Implementation Completion and Results Reports.”

 

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Filed under: IFTI Watch

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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