The United States was a leading force in the establishment of the World Bank in 1944 and remains the largest shareholder of the World Bank today. As the only World Bank shareholder that retains veto power over changes in the Bank’s structure, the United States plays a unique role in influencing and shaping development priorities.
Through the World Bank Group, the United States participates in addressing international development challenges of vital importance. The United States has a long history of generously supporting the World Bank Group's mission and has been a champion of the International Development Association (IDA), the Bank’s fund for the poorest, which provides low-interest loans and grants to developing countries for education, health, infrastructure, agriculture, communications, economic and institutional development.
The World Bank Group is the biggest financier of basic health, education, infrastructure, environmental as well as governance and anti-corruption programs in the developing world. World Bank programs help save and improve lives while expanding opportunities for the poor by promoting economic growth, which fosters global stability.
The United States ranked first in terms of contributions to World Bank Group trust funds between fiscal years 2008 to the second quarter of 2013. Key U.S. priorities include promoting governance and fighting corruption, which is one of the greatest obstacles to economic and social development; confronting borderless threats, such as combating disease and promoting clean energy; and a strong emphasis on accountability, transparency, and development impact.
Traditionally, the World Bank president has always been been a U.S. citizen nominated by the United States. The current president is Jim Yong Kim.
The U.S. secretary of the treasury, Jacob J. Lew, is the United States' governor for the World Bank. Lew is responsible for the management of the United States’ interests in the institution, exercising his influence by keeping an open line of communication with the president of the World Bank and meeting with his fellow governors at the annual and spring meetings of the Board of Governors and of the Development Committee.
The under secretary of state for economic, energy, and agricultural affairs serves as the United States’ alternate governor for the World Bank. Ambassador Robert D. Hormats has served in this position since September 2009.
The governor delegates day-to-day handling of the United States' diverse interests at the Bank to the executive director for the United States, who is nominated by the president of the United States and confirmed by the U.S. Senate.
Executive directors reside in Washington and meet regularly throughout the year (normally at least twice a week) to review and act on lending operations, new policy directions, and financial matters. In keeping with the World Bank Group’s access to information policy, the monthly Board Calendar is a public document.
The executive director represents the United States on the 25-member Board of Directors of the World Bank Group. He or she has oversight of the Bank’s governance and annual commitments of over $50 billion for the implementation of the World Bank mission to end global poverty and promote sustainable development.
The executive director is an employee of the U.S. Department of Treasury and is supported by an alternate executive director, as well as a team of advisors representing different U.S. government agencies.
In order to deepen public understanding in the United States of the World Bank Group's work, and to ensure that American concerns are reflected in the Bank Group's policy discussions, the Office of the U.S. Executive Director and the World Bank Group's North America Affairs Team meet regularly with nationally based constituencies in the United States, including government officials, members of Congress, and staff.
Shares and Voting Power
The World Bank Group has a weighted system of voting. All members of the Bank receive votes consisting of share votes (one vote for each share of the Bank's capital stock held by the member) plus basic votes (calculated so that the sum of all basic votes is equal to 5.55% of the sum of basic votes and share votes for all members). The voting power distribution differs from agency to agency within the World Bank Group.