The World Bank’s Approach to Global Programs: An Independent Evaluation

Naveen Sarna, World Bank, August .


Changes in the global environment have fundamentally altered the dynamics, and roles of international organizations, the private sector, and the civil society. As the number and severity of critical global issues have grown, formal and informal networks have multiplied, and partnerships have proliferated. The Bank has responded to these global challenges with a broad and diverse set of innovative global programs, increasingly perceived as critical complements to the Bank's traditional country assistance activities. Although global issues necessarily influence the Bank's activities, historically its organization, programming, and accountability processes have been driven by country-level concerns. Hence, no authoritative view exists about the appropriate criteria for achieving a balance between global programs, and country operations. This evaluation posits that because of the opportunities provided by the rapidly declining cost of information technology, the growing role of the private sector, and the advent of a global civil society, global policy and program initiatives will become increasingly important to the achievement of development effectiveness at the country level. Thus, a global portfolio proactively managed, and linked to the needs of the Bank's borrowers would enhance the Bank's development impact. Notwithstanding, creative and innovative partnerships characterize Bank global activities, and, the Bank has played a useful role by providing a platform for learning, advocacy, and collaborative action to address key global challenges. Oversight arrangements, resource allocation practices, and reporting processes have been strengthened, including improvements in the articulation of management responsibilities at the level of Networks, the advent of the Partnership Council, and the recent introduction of the Partnership Approval and Tracking System (PATS). Yet, standards for program oversight and their enforcement need to be strengthened, the policy content of global programs could be enhanced, while independent, high-quality reviews of global programs would help improve quality. To achieve greater development effectiveness through global program activities, the Bank needs to take a variety of actions: aligning the standards for its involvement in global programs with those established for its country operations; instituting effective internal programming, quality assurance, and oversight processes; diversifying the array of instruments to achieve quality at entry, and of implementation; and, improving linkages between global and country programs, drawing on the Bank's experience in the design, governance, and management of global programs.

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