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IEO—Independent Evaluation Office

The Independent Evaluation Office (IEO) was established to conduct objective and independent evaluations on issues, on the basis of relevance to the mandate of the IMF. The IEO also aims to promote greater understanding of the Fund's work throughout the membership. While the executive director is appointed by the Fund's board, the IEO is supposed to be independent of the IMF's management and staff. The IEO, which was established in 2001, has thirteen staff including the director, currently Mr Thomas A. Bernes.

Prior to his current position Mr. Bernes, a Canadian national, was executive secretary of the joint IMF-World Bank Development Committee, and deputy corporate secretary of the World Bank Group. Previously he has been the IMF executive director responsible for a constituency that includes Canada, Ireland and the Caribbean; assistant deputy minister of finance in Canada and a senior international economic official representing Canada at the G7, the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), and Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation Forum. He has held a number of positions within the Canadian government and served as head of the OECD's General Trade Policy Division.

According to the IEO its independence from the IMF management staff is maintained by the following safeguards: the director is selected by the executive board for a period of four years, possibly renewable for a further three years, and may not be appointed to the IMF staff at the end of his term; the director is responsible for hiring the staff, the majority must come from outside the IMF and consultants are regularly used when expert knowledge is required in certain areas. However a recent external committee report, submitted in March 2006 found that the IMF board and management may exert undue on the IEO and recommendations made may have not been properly implemented.

The IEO's mandate to improve the effectiveness of the IMF can be more specifically categorised into four goals: to enhance the learning culture at the IMF and enable it to better absorb lessons for improvements in future work; to help build the IMF's external credibility by undertaking objective evaluations in a transparent manner; to provide independent feedback to the executive board in its governance and oversight responsibilities over the Fund; and to promote greater understanding of the work of the IMF.

The tools the IEO uses to achieve these goals are: systematic evaluations of the Fund's general policies; comparative cross-country analyses of the IMF's economic policy advice, both in the context of surveillance and in the context of IMF-supported programs; and evaluations of completed country operations. Helping in this process the IEO has unlimited access to all IMF documents; and is in permanent liaison with the IMF's executive board, the IEO has the ability to assist the board in monitoring the implementation of IEO study recommendations.

Recent and ongoing evaluations

In 2008 the IEO completed an evaluation on the Governance of the IMF, a response to the growing legitimacy and accountability issues facing the IMF. The report seeks to strenghten the IMF´s relevance in a changing environment, and focuses on the main institutions of the IMF´s governance structure: the Executive Board, the Management and the International Monetary and Finance Committee. It is avaliable here.

Ongoing evaluations include the IMF´s approach to international trade policy issues available here, and an evaluation of the IMF´s interaction with its member countries, available here.

Completed work

Completed projects include: an evaluation of the role of structural conditionality in Fund-supported programs. New conditionality guidelines were published in 2002, however old criticisms still persist and the evaluation aims to improve conditionality design. A final issues paper is available on the fund website.

The IEO has examined the Fund's role in the determination of the external resource envelope (foreign exchange revenue and aid) in Sub-Saharan African countries. A draft issues paper is available on the fund website.

Another major project was an evaluation of the Fund's advice on exchange rate policy. The evaluation sets out to assess the Fund's successes and failures in this area and how the fund can improve its performance. A draft issues paper is available on the fund website.

Published: Thursday 22nd June 2006, last edited: Friday 28th May 2010

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