FEATURE STORY

World Bank Group Begins Tracking Progress in Real Time

September 15, 2014


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The new PDU website tracks progress on 12 targets aimed at increasing the Bank Group's development impact.


STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • A new website will track the World Bank Group’s progress on 12 development targets that contribute to ending extreme poverty and boosting shared prosperity.
  • The targets are specific and time-bound and aim at increasing development impact and transparency.
  • Progress is being tracked in real time, with data updated ‘daily, weekly, hourly’ as it becomes available.

A year ago, World Bank Group President Jim Yong Kim made a pledge to developing countries: The Bank Group would make changes in order to deliver better services. It would be less bureaucratic, gather more feedback from citizens affected by its projects, and measure more effectively whether its programs are successful.  Following the example of the Malaysian government and others, Kim established a Delivery Unit to help set targets and track progress.

Now a new website will lend insight in real time into how the Bank Group is doing by continuously updating results as new data become available.

PDU.worldbank.org launched with 12 targets that reflect the priorities of the Bank Group vis-a-vis its developing country partners and the two overarching goals the Bank Group supports: End extreme poverty by 2030, and boost shared prosperity for the bottom 40% of the population in the developing world.

The initial 12 targets aim at increasing development impact by, for example, reducing by one-third the time it takes to deliver a development project; boosting financial assistance to poor, fragile, and conflict-affected areas by 50%; and increasing transparency by geo-mapping all investment projects by 2015, so it’s easy to see where the Bank Group is working and on what.



" Having clear targets with clear end dates has to be the first step in transforming the way you do your work. "

Jim Yong Kim

World Bank Group President


Since January, the President’s Delivery Unit has brought together subject-matter experts from across the Bank Group to set the targets and develop data flows to track performance. Each target is specific and time-bound to help build momentum.

“These targets are meant to keep us focused on our goals,” said Melanie Walker, senior adviser to President Kim and director of the unit. “This is about how we adapt our Bank, our practices, and how we improve our service to clients, using the data that we generate.”

Data on each target is automated and updated as it is gathered “daily, weekly, hourly,” she said. “Whenever you click on it, the most recent data is there.”

The targets cover operations, finance, and “solutions” priorities, such as climate change, energy, the Bank Group’s advisory services, and financial inclusion. They touch the work of the entire institution, including the International Bank for Reconstruction and Development (IBRD), the International Development Association (IDA), the Multilateral Investment Guarantee Agency (MIGA), and the private-sector arm, the International Finance Corporation (IFC).

“We’ve tried to reflect the full spectrum of the one World Bank Group – not just the work of one team, but the stock take of our efforts as an institution,” said Walker.

A few examples:

Support for Fragile and Conflict-Affected Countries

A top target is to increase support by 50% for poor countries that are also fragile or affected by conflict – places where the Bank Group hopes to accelerate progress over the next three years. This target has already been 93% achieved, thanks to a record $52 billion replenishment of IDA, the World Bank’s fund for the poorest countries, at the end of 2013.  Negotiators agreed to raise the allocation of grants and other financial assistance for these countries from 13% to 20% beginning in fiscal year 2015, which began July 1.

Engaging Citizens

President Kim said the Bank Group “must become a better listener” and pledged to gather feedback from 100% of people who benefited from development projects. The target requires incorporating beneficiary feedback in all projects – up from 32% of projects in FY13.

Energy Access

Some 2.5 billion people lack access to energy. The Bank Group aims to support 10,000 megawatts of new energy capacity by fiscal year 2016, which begins July 1, 2015.

Geo-mapping Projects

Kim said the Bank Group’s partners and clients need to know “where the Bank Group works and what we do” in order to better coordinate resources and inform partners. The Bank Group aims to add rich detail to its maps and geocode all its projects by 2015.

Mobilizing Capital

At about $135 billion a year, official development assistance falls far short of infrastructure needs in the developing world. Some estimates put the funding gap at $1 trillion a year. Private sector investment can help fill the financing gaps and also boost the private sector and job growth in developing countries. The Bank Group aims to mobilize $32 billion in external capital by FY17.

Simplifying Processes

Based on feedback from developing countries, President Kim sees a strong need to reduce administrative barriers and the amount of time it takes to deliver a project. The target is to reduce project preparation time by a third, from 25.4 months today to 19 months by FY17.

The number of targets and the targets themselves could change over time. Walker said the PDU targets will adapt as necessary, and that the experience of developing targets is challenging but important.

“Setting targets involves calibrating ambition with reality. The aspiration is to use targets to drive change rather than create perverse incentives that slow down progress towards reaching the twin goals,” she said.

“Our hope is that over time is all the metrics we track as an institution will be digital in the most real-time fashion possible,” she added. “We should report on what we track and share broadly what we learn.”