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The World Bank Group Outcome Orientation at the Country Level

Report to the Board from the Committee on Development Effectiveness

The Committee on Development Effectiveness met to consider the report entitled The World Bank Group Outcome Orientation at the Country Level and draft management response.

The committee welcomed the report’s findings and recommendations for improving the outcome orientation of country programs and commended management and the Independent Evaluation Group (IEG) for their collaborative and constructive engagement and for having reached agreement on the best way to improve the current system for measuring country outcomes. Members were pleased to learn that the Bank Group’s model for gauging outcomes in its client countries is sound; that, for the most part, teams practice it well; and that it has played an important role in establishing a culture of results measurements in the Bank Group’s operational teams and the clients it supports. Nonetheless, they agreed with IEG and management that there was room for improvement, noting that the Bank Group country-level results system did not effectively capture the Country Partnership Framework’s objectives or the Bank Group’s contribution to changes in country outcomes, and it did not enable teams to respond to changing circumstances or drive incentives or behaviors to uphold accountability for results at the level of the country program. The committee was encouraged to learn that management agreed with the need to better evaluate the pathways to country outcomes in Country Partnership Frameworks, including better integrating the contributions of the International Finance Corporation (IFC)’s and the Multilateral Investment Guarantee Agency, exploring ways to capture how the Bank Group contributes to higher development outcomes through institutional change and capacity building and moving away from the false dichotomy of attribution versus contribution.

In calling for these reforms, IEG recognized the value of a results measurement system that accurately captures country outcomes while allowing for adaptive management and agreed that the country results system needed to be adjusted to find a better balance between contribution and attribution, strengthening and capturing links with higher-level objectives such as the corporate goals and Sustainable Development Goals, and strengthening the integration of contributions by IFC and the Multilateral Investment Guarantee Agency. Members noted that the new model should build on the work IFC is doing as part of IFC 3.0 and that IEG will need to make appropriate changes to the way it validates country-level performance. The committee noted testing and adjusting the monitoring, evaluation and learning plans would be an iterative process that would take time and require wide consultation and thus, the committee appreciated management’s commitment to define and test IEG’s suggested approach in a selected number of pilot countries and to keep the Board of Executive Directors appraised of these pilots and of the possibilities of mainstreaming the approach. IEG emphasized that for a renewed system to be useful, reforms should not layer more demands on top of the existing system; some practices have to be stopped so that new ones can take root. Management noted that, for the new approach to be useful, it would need to be practical and grounded in field and operational realities and client capabilities.

Members underscored the value of strong collaboration across the different actors, including important roles for client-driven ownership of country programs and understanding of the Bank Group’s contributions to country outcomes jointly with other development partners. Members encouraged management to consider incentive systems that would enable staff to focus on achieving higher development objectives, particularly through funding and leadership support. Management noted that reforming the system to allow for better reflection of achievement of higher development outcomes may require further flexibility in adjusting design and course correction, leniency in data collection, adjustments to the way IEG evaluates results, and the Board’s understanding of measurement challenges.

Members noted the need to link the exercise to the outcome classification proposed in IEG’s Results and Performance of the World Bank Group 2020 and to the upcoming knowledge paper. They encouraged management to address the difference in time frames between country cycle documents and higher-level outcomes; have a client and partnership focus; and take advisory services, policy dialogue, and the Bank Group’s convening power in the Country Partnership Frameworks into account.