By NBF News

Independent Evaluation Group (IEG) has tasked the World Bank Group (WBG), to undertake systemic improvement instead of focusing mainly on anti-corruption and governance issues.

The group said this in a report that assesses the World Bank's 2007 governance and anticorruption (GAC) strategy and implementation plan.

It said that the study focused on the relevance and effectiveness of the Bank's global support for governance and anti-corruption but does not cover other key GAC initiatives, including the organizational restructuring of the Bank's Integrity, Vice Presidency (INT) and recent reforms to strengthen the Bank's corporate investigations and sanctions regimes.

According to the IEG 'Findings indicate that the Bank continues to work on these issues virtually everywhere, and that there has been progress since the strategy was launched.

The Bank tripled the number of countries in which it planned to support institutional strengthening for good governance, in particular, public financial management, service delivery, and the investment climate.

The Bank also increased its use of governance and political analysis in project design and relied more on countries' own public management systems for managing aid resources, particularly in weaker states.

'The study also shows that there are important opportunities yet to be seized. To date implementation has focused more on strengthening the Bank's own capacities and improving its standing among key stakeholders rather than on strategic issues facing client countries.

More needs to be done in countries to build institutional capacities, to address fiduciary and governance risks, to improve measurement of governance results, and to help foster the demand for good governance.

'The evaluation also points out that the Bank needs a more consistent approach in countries that experience worsening governance. This may help to address the perception-held by stakeholders inside and outside the Bank-that there is a tension between the Bank's lending goals and its pursuit of good governance objectives.

'The governance and anticorruption agenda remains a high priority for the World Bank and its partner countries,' said Ali Khadr, Senior Manager at IEG.

'The second phase of Governance and Anti-Corruption implementation needs to address the key findings of this evaluation if the Bank is to more effectively help countries overcome deep-seated governance challenges such as civil service dysfunction, capture of natural resource rents, or political-institutional barriers to market entry and improved service delivery.'

'To achieve systematic improvements and sustained results in the Bank's responsiveness to governance issues, there is need for innovation on multiple fronts: new financial instruments, better metrics for measuring governance performance, a more harmonized and consistent approach to risk management, and a more strategic allocation of internal resources,' said Navin Girishankar, the main author of the study and a Lead Evaluation Officer with IEG. 'Taken together, these can help improve the Bank's approach to strengthening country institutions and its effectiveness in supporting homegrown efforts.'

It is important to view the findings of this evaluation in the context of an ongoing internal reform process across the World Bank Group, including institution-wide transparency initiatives and the development of new instruments for strengthening country institutions and government systems. The current reforms have sought to create an enabling environment for the Bank to pursue the GAC agenda on multiple fronts the report said.