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IEG—Independent Evaluation Group

The IEG was established in 1973, and was previously known as the Operations Evaluation Department. It reports to the executive board of the World Bank. Its headquarters are located in Washington D.C. and the current director general is Dr. Vinod Thomas. It is an independent unit within the World Bank designed to assess: the effectiveness of development projects; how projects will be run by a borrower; and the long-term impact of projects on a country's development. It covers both public and private lending. These functions aim to provide objective assessment of the Bank's work and to learn from the experience of projects. Its stated aim is to provide accountability and to disseminate lessons learnt and provide recommendations from evaluations.

The IEG is split into three sub-units which deal with the different aspects of the World Bank Group: the Operations Evaluation Department is responsible for overseeing the Bank's public sector financing arms, the International Bank for Reconstruction and Development and the International Development Association; the private sector lending arms, the International Finance Corporation and the Multilateral Investment Guarantee Agency, are overseen by Operations Evaluation Group and the Operations Evaluation Unit respectively. In 2002-3 a series of seminars and workshops were held to mark the 30th anniversary of the organisation and to chart its history to date and a lengthy document named "World Bank Independent Evaluation Group - The First 30 Years" was produced.

The director-general, Vinod Thomas, is an Indian national and was appointed in 2005. He gained his PhD. in economics from the University of Chicago and lectured at Vassar College prior to working as an economist in a number of different roles at the World Bank. From 2001 to 2005 he was a World Bank country director, in Brazil (one of the largest World Bank debtors). While in Brazil he managed around 57 projects and oversaw an annual lending budget of between $1.5 - $2 billion dollars. He was previously vice-president of the World Bank Institute, where his primary responsibility was to deliver information through seminars, conferences and the media.

The IEG release an annual report on operations evaluation (AROE) which assesses the progress, status and prospects for monitoring and evaluation of the development effectiveness of the Bank's activities. The 2006 report approaches the question, "to what extent the World Bank's monitoring and evaluation systems provide staff with the information they need to better manage for results?"

The annual review of development effectiveness (ARDE), another IEG report, looks beyond assessment of stated objectives when evaluating Bank projects. The report addresses questions such as the contribution of projects to poverty reduction; how the Bank is assisting countries achieve the Millennium Development Goals; and how effective the Bank's support for policy reform is.

In addition the IEG produces: about 10 country assistance evaluations a year; reports on specific topic areas such as the Bank's support for 'fragile states'; sector reviews focusing on Bank lending performance in, say, agriculture or transport; and project reviews of around one in four Bank projects. While these reports are often critical of World Bank policies, some people question the extent of the criticism and the ability of the IEG to recognise the root causes of problems and negative contributions that the Bank may have had.

Ongoing IEG work

Currently the IEG is running evaluatuions on climate change, poverty reduction support credit and health, nutrition and population, amongst others. The latter has been published and can be found at their website

Past IEG work

Examples of past IEG assessments include evaluating the assistance for client training and the Bank's support for middle income countries. The former represents a large component of the Bank's work and spending, the date of completion for the evaluation was February 2007. The latter relates to the development effectiveness of Bank projects in reducing poverty in 86 member states, classified as middle-income countries (MICs), those with per capita income between US$826 and US$10,065 in 2004. These countries represent around 50 per cent of the world population and contain around 40 per cent of the global population living on under $2 a day and represent around one sixth of global output. The completion of the evaluation was in March 2007.

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

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