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Access to Information

Records from WB’s first loan to France digitized for the opening of the World Bank Visitor Center

Elisa Liberatori Prati's picture
Steel mill at Montataire. © World Bank
Steel mill at Montataire. © World Bank

On November 15, 2017, the World Bank Group opened the doors to its new Visitor Center located at 1776 Pennsylvania Avenue NW, Washington, D.C. (across the street from the Bank’s Main Complex). The Visitor Center offers not only an extensive display of Bank Group’s history, but also provides an interactive learning experience about the institution’s work and mission.

To celebrate the Visitor Center’s opening and to commemorate the 70th anniversary of the World Bank’s first loan – Loan 0001 to France for reconstruction following World War II – the WBG Archives has digitized and publicly released records related to this inaugural loan. Correspondence and memoranda on the negotiation, administration, and repayment of the 1947 loan to France are now accessible on the World Bank’s Projects & Operations website along with other relevant resources and information.

Sharing the future of open access

Elisa Liberatori Prati's picture


On October 26, as part of the World Bank’s celebration of the 10th International Open Access week, I moderated a panel discussion on behalf of the Bank and the Scholarly Publishing and Academic Resources Coalition (SPARC). Experts shared their experiences, success stories, and identified remaining challenges in advancing Open Access. External participants and Bank Group staff were invited to the event, which was also live-streamed and recorded

The World Bank open access research guide

Elisa Liberatori Prati's picture

This blog post is a part of the International Open Access Week blog series

Duncan Omole, Knowledge and Information Officer in ITS Knowledge and Information, explains why the World Bank Open Access Research Guide is a good starting place for researchers looking for information by and about the Bank:
 
The World Bank Group 2017 Open Access (OA) week theme is “Open in order to eradicate extreme poverty.” The World Bank Group Library supports the World Bank Group’s mission by supplying evidence-based data driven information and knowledge.
 
The World Bank’s Open Access Research Guide is one of the most important sources of this information. Why? Links to several World Bank Group Open Agenda Initiatives are found on the guide’s landing page. The World Bank’s Policy on Access to Information, the World Bank Group Finances, and Corporate Procurement Awards ($250K and above) are among the most important of these.

Demystifying appeals under the World Bank’s Access to Information policy

Elisa Liberatori Prati's picture
© World Bank


This blog post is a part of the International Open Access Week blog series

Today Frances M. Allen, a Communications Officer in the World Bank’s Access to Information Policy Unit, explains how the appeals process works when a request for information is denied:

The World Bank’s Policy on Access to Information (AI), effective in July 2010, was a pivotal shift in the institution’s approach to making information available to the public. Underlying the policy is the principle that Bank will disclose any information in its possession that is not on a list of exceptions.

Open in order to end extreme poverty: Access to Information as an enabling strategy

Elisa Liberatori Prati's picture
© World Bank

In 2009, the World Bank envisioned “open” in exactly the same way you “see” the word . . . an open door . . . and waiting behind the door . . . access to buildings and ideas, people and events.  And in the Bank’s case, access to a plethora of information on projects throughout the world, current ‘of the moment’ information on open projects, outcomes and lessons learned culled from closed projects, small grants that showed impact and improvement, research into cutting edge topics that affect everybody like climate change and displacement, and much more. 
 

Making politics work for development

Stuti Khemani's picture

Fear of openly confronting politics can come in the way of achieving economic development goals. To help address this problem, the Development Research Group of the World Bank prepared a report synthesizing the vanguard of economics research on the functioning of political markets to understand the implications. It yields insights for strengthening existing transparency and citizen engagement policies with potentially powerful consequences for economic development everywhere, in poor and rich countries alike.

Discovering the Bank’s Archives: Conversation with a researcher

Elisa Liberatori Prati's picture

Giovanni Zanalda is director of the Duke University Center for International Studies/Global Areas.June 9 is International Archives Day, and I would like to mark this day by reflecting on the contribution of the World Bank Group Archives to the “memory” of the development community. As such, I am talking with Giovanni Zanalda, director of the Duke University Center for International Studies/Global Areas. Giovanni is a faculty member in the Departments of Economics and History at Duke and specializes in financial history, history of development, and emerging markets. He has been a user of the WBG Archives in different phases of his career and with different focuses, and we have asked him to share his user perspective.

World Bank’s Access to Information Policy— five+ years and going strong

Hannah George's picture

An active player in the transparency space, the World Bank just released its fifth Access to Information (AI) Annual Report. The report presents the evolution and progress of the Policy on Access to Information (the Policy) since it was launched on July 1, 2010, provides a variety of statistics, and highlights a range of transparency activities carried out in fiscal 2015. Since 2010, the Bank has pushed the frontiers to disclose more information and twice revised the Policy to keep abreast of evolving public demand—in 2013 to clarify declassification of certain Board transcripts, and in 2015 to align the treatment of the documents and records of the Board of Governors with the treatment of those of the Executive Directors. The following are select highlights from the past five years.
 
Enhanced information access. The Policy has provided the public with access to a broad range of historical and current information on operations, research, corporate matters, and Board decisions. The Bank has also received and responded to more than 3,000 access to information requests.  The number of requests declined from 700 in 2010 to 474 in 2015, due to the Bank’s proactive and systematic efforts to disclose information online. The main entry points to the Bank’s wealth of information are the Projects and Operations portal, which provides detailed information on lending operations, and the Documents and Reports repository, which contains more than 200,000 documents that are freely accessible to the public. Further, the Archives Holdings website offers a growing collection of digitized records dating to the 1940s.
 
Governance structure and appeals. The Policy has established two robust bodies to manage the appeals process—the AI Committee and the external AI Appeals Board. A new chair of the AI Committee was appointed last fall, Stefan Koeberle, Bank director of strategy, results and risk. In 2015, the membership of the AI Appeals Board was renewed with the selection of a new member and the re-appointment of two previous members. The number of appeals submitted to these bodies has been low, possibly indicating that proactive disclosure and the system for responding to requests are working well. The appeals mechanism ensures that the Bank implements the Policy effectively.

The World Bank is again in the top 10 of the Aid Transparency Index

Stefan Koeberle's picture

Image from the 2016 Aid Transparency Index

On April 13, 2016, Publish What You Fund (PWYF) launched the 2016 Aid Transparency Index (ATI), a broadly recognized measure of donors’ aid transparency. We were pleased to see that for the second consecutive year the World Bank (IDA) is in the top (“very good”) category— this year as number 6 on the list, with a score of 86. So, we are among the only 10 donors that, according to PWYF, have lived up to the Busan commitment on aid transparency.

Of course, we are proud of our standing. At the same time, it is worth noting that the ATI to a very high degree measures the publication of machine-readable data in compliance with the International Aid Transparency Initiative (IATI) standard, while other aspects of transparency have hardly any weight in the index.

Transparency is a priority for the World Bank. Since the launch of our Access to Information Policy in 2010 we have not looked back; the just-released World Bank Group Access to Information Annual Report and 5-Year Retrospective makes this clear. The World Bank joined IATI when it was launched in 2008, and we published our first IATI data in 2011, but publication of IATI data is just a small part of our efforts to be an open institution. Detailed information on Bank supported projects, including procurement data, is available from the projects and operations database; we were among the first to map projects; details on financial transactions are available at the portal for open financial data; and the open data platform gives access to thousands of development indicators.

Transported back in time

Elisa Liberatori Prati's picture
Panel members, left to right: Denis Robitaille, Slobodan Mitric, Maryvonne Plessis-Fraissard,
Christine Kessides, and Georges Bianco Darido. © Elisa Liberatori Prati/World Bank


How do you think the challenges faced by the World Bank’s urban transport teams have changed since the sector emerged in the 1970s? Did they become more or less complex? And what factors influenced the sector’s evolution? Recent research by Slobodan Mitric on the early years of the Bank’s urban transport sector gave Bank staff a unique opportunity to glimpse into the past, find some answers to these questions, and uncover the knowledge hidden in the historical records of the World Bank Group Archives.

Mitric, who has spent his entire professional life working on the subject of transport in cities and retired from the Bank in 2003 as a lead urban transport specialist, presented the findings of his research in the Archives at a panel discussion on the “World Bank’s Engagement with Transport in Cities: The Early Years 1972-1982” last month. The panel was organized by the World Bank Group Archives jointly with the History, Urban & Water, and Transportation Thematic Groups of the 1818 Society.


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