IFI governance

Background

The World Bank’s Independent Evaluation Group

31 January 2017 | Inside the institutions

Credit: IEG

Credit: IEG

Established in 1973, the Independent Evaluation Group (IEG) is one of four branches tasked with ensuring the accountability of the World Bank Group (WBG), including the Bank’s private sector arm, the International Finance Corporation (IFC), and the Bank’s political risk insurance arm, the Multilateral Investment Guarantee Agency (MIGA). The other branches are the Inspection Panel, the Internal Audit and the Integrity Vice Presidency. As an independent arm of the World Bank Group, IEG’s overriding goal is to help the WBG build on its successes and avoid unnecessarily repeating past mistakes. To achieve its goals the IEG undertakes a series of evaluations to address strategic or systemic issues; to focus on specific countries or projects; to ensure a systematic assessment of portfolio performance; and to promote greater learning from IEG’s work. Through this process, the IEG is able to provide the World Bank’s shareholders, Bank management and operational staff with insights and feedback to allow crucial mid-way adjustments to policies, processes, projects and programmes.

Structure and staffing

The IEG is headed by a director general, who reports directly to the WBG’s board of executive directors. The Office of Director General oversees four arms: strategy and operations; human development and economic management; financial, private sector and sustainable development; and knowledge and communications, each of which is run by a director or a manager.

Evaluation process

The IEG’s evaluation process involves various evaluation instruments, each of which serves a different function.

The Major Corporate, Thematic and Sectoral Evaluations assess the WBG’s performance relative to a certain theme, sector or corporate process. These major multi-level, multi-project evaluations involve a combination of synthetic analyses at the overall portfolio level and deeper analyses at country, project or other levels of analysis. Among other things, internal and external quantitative and qualitative data sets are used in portfolio analyses, structured literature reviews, surveys and case study analyses.

Country Programme Evaluations (CPEs) assess how well the WBG has met its objectives for a particular country, over a period of up to 10 years. They look at the relevance of each objective, the WBG’s approach to it, implementation strategy and final outcomes. Among other things, the level of country ownership of international development priorities is factored into the evaluation criteria.

The IEG has identified and categorised countries according to their similar challenges for a more tailored and efficient approach in conducting CPEs. These Cluster Country Programme Evaluations, which were introduced in 2014, enhance cross-country learning through a common analytical framework which facilitates the analysis of cross-cutting findings.

The WBG factors in validation of Completion and Learning Reviews (CLRs) in planning and executing future stages of each Country Partnership Framework (CPF, see Observer Winter 2016). The IEG’s role in this is to review, independently validate and rate the CLR before submitting it to the Bank’s board for the next CPF discussion. In producing a CLR, the IEG determines the degree to which the objectives were met, evaluates the WBG’s design and implementation strategy, and compares the programme’s relevance to the WBG’s corporate strategy. The CLR validations independently rate the CPF’s development outcomes and the WBG’s performance.

The IEG is also responsible for validating all self-evaluations, which are required upon completion of all IFC, MIGA and International Bank for Reconstruction and Development (IBRD, the Bank’s middle-income country arm) projects. In validating these self-evaluations, the IEG looks at the project’s original stated objectives, the self-reported performance ratings and the evidence presented. The IEG then assigns its own ratings, based on its independent review.

In addition to the desk-based Implementation Completion and Results Report (ICRR), the IEG also conducts independent project-level field-based evaluations, Project Performance Assessment Reports (PPARs), for approximately one-fifth of the WBG’s portfolio. The method of evaluation usually involves a literature review, portfolio analysis and a country mission, which includes site visits and interviews with stakeholders.

The IEG also undertakes other evaluation exercises, such as systematic reviews and impact evaluations in tandem with other WBG departments. Learning differs from evaluation in that while evaluation assesses the relevance, success and sustainability of WBG programmes and policies, learning is the process whereby the IEG uses past experiences to determine the contexts in which future projects should be implemented.

Pre- and post-evaluation activities

Before embarking on an evaluation, the IEG outlines the objectives in an approach paper, which contains its aims, scope, evaluation questions and approach. Once an evaluation is completed, the IEG reports on its findings and makes recommendations to the World Bank board and management. Each recommendation is then put into the Management Action Record (MAR) database. When the Bank agrees with an IEG recommendation they must prepare a management action plan, which includes actions, indicators, baselines, targets and timelines, within 90 business days of the discussion of the report by the Bank board’s Committee on Development Effectiveness (CODE). The IEG and WBG management review and rate the WBG’s progress against the action plan beginning one year after the CODE discussion for a four-year period.

A new five-point rating scale was introduced in 2015 to monitor the implementation of action plans more closely. The highest rating for completed actions are marked as “complete”, while projects that are 90 per cent completed are marked as “high”.

Accountability of the IEG

In 2013, the WBG commissioned an external panel to conduct an independent review of the IEG. The final report, which was released in 2015, contained the following recommendations:

1.       “The Independent Evaluation Group should remain an independent unit within the WBG with both clear accountability and learning responsibilities.

2.       Regular independent external reviews of IEG should be conducted every five years.

3.       A single five-year non-renewable term for director general of IEG should be put in place, with no possibility of entry or re-entry into the Bank Group.

4.       The WBG should develop an institution-wide, principle-based living evaluation policy; establish Terms of Reference for IEG; the IEG should develop a 4-5 year strategy.

5.       CODE’s oversight functions should be strengthened.

6.       The quality, relevance, usefulness, credibility and influence of IEG’s work should be enhanced.

7.       The process for major, thematic and sectoral evaluations should be adjusted.

8.       IEG’s work should be broadened to build M&E capacity in client countries, in partnership with the WBG, other multilateral development banks, development organisations and the countries themselves.”

A series of pilots was jointly proposed by the IEG and WBG management for several new approaches to engagement during the life cycle of the evaluation. The pilots particularly focus on recommendation and action plan formulation and learning. IEG and WBG management will report on the early pilot findings to CODE in June 2017.