World Bank Flash: A More Open, Transparent and Accountable World Bank

“The World Bank is honing its focus on areas where we can add most value:  targeting the poor and vulnerable; creating opportunities for growth; promoting global collective action; strengthening governance; and managing risk and preparing for crisis.  We are doing this all while making the Bank a more transparent, accountable and results-driven institution.”World Bank Group President Robert B. Zoellick, July 1, 2011
 
Background
Over the past three years, the World Bank Group has been actively working to make its operations and research more open, transparent and accountable. Two pillars of this effort have been the Open Data initiative, a range of reforms enabling free access to data that had previously only been available to paying subscribers; and the Access to Information Policy, a ground-breaking change to how the Bank makes information about its projects, analytical and administrative activities and Board proceedings available to the public. Closely linked to these efforts are the Bank’s ongoing commitments to governance and anti-corruption and efforts to bring greater accountability into our operational work.

How we are helping
The World Bank’s rapidly expanding Open Data initiative has been unlocking the institution’s world-class knowledge and development data for researchers, activists, students and development practitioners across the globe.  

  • The Open Data website now provides free access to more than 7,000 indicators and is accessible in Arabic, Chinese, English, French and Spanish. These indicators containing information ranging from GDP data to statistics such as the ratio of women versus men attending secondary school in a given country.
  • Recently added features make the data easier to search and download. For example, the Bank has developed and released ADePT–a free, stand-alone software platform for automated economic analysis that allows users to more quickly and easily use micro data in analyzing poverty, inequality, health, gender, and other key areas.  ADePT greatly reduces the costs-of-entry for analysts and guides them to new cutting-edge methods appropriate to their problems.

Related initiatives to bring greater transparency and accountability to Bank operations include:

  • The Mapping for Results and AidFlows website, releasing information on the location of projects and how much development aid is provided and received around the world.  These tools promote better monitoring of project results and impact on people, enhance transparency, and strengthen country dialogue and civic engagement.
  • The World Bank Finances initiative, putting raw, unvarnished financial information into the hands of stakeholders in one site, in a social, interactive format.  Includes the World Bank’s commitments and disbursements country-by-country; the Bank’s own audited financial statements; as well as information on a number of World Bank-administered trust funds. This will allow users to slice-and-dice data, visualize it, and share it with their networks on programs in their own countries, and will provide another avenue for citizen reporting to increase accountability.
  • The Implementation Status and Results (ISR) report, a key tool for reporting on the implementation performance and results in Bank supported projects.  As of July 2010, ISR’s are now publically available through the Bank’s external website.

July 1, 2011 marked the one-year anniversary of the Bank’s landmark Access to Information policy.

  • From July1, 2010 to March 31, 2011, the Bank posted 7,064 new documents and reports on its Documents and Reports site, and the public has viewed more than 4 million pages on this site since the Access to Information policy went into effect.
  • Our policy has received favorable feedback from CSO advocacy groups, among others. For example, Chad Dobson, executive director of the Bank Information Center (BIC) recently said: “The World Bank’s Access to Information Policy is the gold standard for financial institutions.  The challenge now is to move this policy into the field and country offices.”

 
In FY11 we continued to integrate our governance and anti corruption agenda into all of the Bank’s work, across countries, sectors and projects:

  • In FY11, the Bank announced that it will not to lend directly to finance budgets in countries that do not publish their budgets, or in exceptional cases, at least commit to publish their budgets within twelve months.
  • We have also been advising governments on how to publish information, enact Freedom of Information Acts, open up their budget and procurement processes, build independent audit functions and reform their justice systems.

Our initiatives are inspiring others to follow suit. On July 8, the Kenyan government – in partnership with the World Bank and others – will launch the Kenya Open Data portal making several large data sets, including the national census and statistics on government spending at national and county level, available to researchers, journalist, web and software developers, and the general public. This will be the first government data portal of its kind in Sub Saharan Africa.
 
For more information, please contact:
David Theis, World Bank Group, +1 (202) 458-8626, dtheis@worldbank.org
Broadcast requests: Mehreen Sheikh, 202-458-7336, msheikh1@worldbank.org