World Bank May Speed Access to Board Documents

23 November 2016

The World Bank is working to amend its access to information policy to “streamline” responses to requests for Board documents, but is keeping its proposed changes secret.

Under the current system, in which the Board itself must act on requests for Board documents, requesters, including FreedomInfo.org, have experienced substantial delays.

The time required for Board action far exceeds the basic Bank promise of replies in 20 working days absent extenuating circumstances.

After an eight-month wait, Freedominfo.org this week received a requested 1971 transcript of a Bank Board meeting. (See FreedomInfo.org article in October.) Read transcript.

Five pages on an unknown topic originally were blacked out from the 18-page, 45-year-old document requested by FreedomInfo.org, which appealed the deletions.

Turns out the redacted section concerned approval of a five-year $100 million “loan” from Japan. A note in the released document indicates that the Japanese government approved the release. The Bank gave no indication why the material was originally redacted.

Similar waits are observable for others who have requested Board meetings.

The approval process, however, is untransparent.

The Board’s Aug. 4 minutes, for example, mention action on several  requests from unknown requesters. The minutes do not include any information on what was requested or the disposition of the request.

The staff memos advising the Board, which might provide some explanation, will not be disclosed, according to Bank officials in answer to a FreedomInfo.org informal request. FreedomInfo.org has since filed a formal request.

The Board minutes in 2016 indicate a small by steady flow of requests for Board documents.

The Board agenda indicated that on Oct. 31, the body was set to consider “StreamliningProcedures for Disclosure of Board Records.”

The World Bank’s page for Board minutes has been out of commission for a week.

Bank officials contacted by FreedomInfo.org would not say what changes are under way.

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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
1-(703) 276-7748