Public Access: The Access to Information Policy allows public access to any information in the Bank's possession that is not on a list of exceptions, enabling the Bank to proactively release information to the public. Information can be obtained in person at the Infoshop or through in-country Public Information Services. Each Bank office is an excellent source of information, with each country maintaining a web page with project information and a network of professional staff to help citizens with their requests.
Web Access: The majority of users access information through the Bank website. The public can openly and freely access information on Bank operations, including the Projects and Operations portal, which provides detailed information on more than 11,000 lending projects, and the Documents and Reports database with more than 150,000 documents available. The Bank also makes available to the public development and financial data, including through Open Data, which allows public access to more than 9,000 development indicators and more than 1,200 survey datasets, and Open Finances, which includes financial data on World Bank Group activities. For users on the go there is even an Infofinder app for iPhone and iPad and a World Bank Group Finances app for iPhone, iPad, and Android devices.
Filing an Access to Information Request: The Bank has taken Access to Information Policy implementation seriously. For information that is not available on the Bank’s website, the public may submit an Access to Information request at no cost. In FY 2013 the Bank received approximately 700 new public access requests, 89% of which were completed. The inflow of requests is managed by teams within the Bank according to formal procedures to encourage the prompt processing of requests. In cases where information falls under an exception, requesters can file an appeal through a formal appeals process.
Governance Framework: “The Bank has continued to reinforce a strong governance framework for the AI Policy,” notes Anne-Marie Leroy, senior vice president and Bank Group general counsel. The policy established two bodies to hear appeals, the Access to Information Committee and the Access to Information Appeals Board. A new chair of the Access to Information Committee was recently appointed Mariam Sherman, Bank director of results, openness and effectiveness. Last fall, the World Bank Group President Bank selected three new experts to serve on the AI Appeals Board.
The Bank will continue to open up its data and knowledge, and will encourage governments to do the same, allowing stakeholders — especially the poor — to fully understand this information, participate in development processes, and hold governments and development providers accountable. Ultimately, the true test of effectiveness is how the Bank uses this evidence to change the lives of over a billion people in extreme poverty. Being more open about what the Bank does do and what the Bank knows is an important step in building a more prosperous and equitable world.