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Front Matter

Front Matter

Author(s):
International Monetary Fund. Independent Evaluation Office
Published Date:
August 2012
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    Independent Evaluation Office

    Opening session of the IEO conference on “Ten Years of Independent Evaluation at the IMF: What Does It Add Up To?” held in December 2011. Left to right: IMF Executive Director Shakour Shaalan, IEO Director Moises Schwartz, IMF Managing Director Christine Lagarde, and IMF Executive Director Moeketsi Majoro.

    Panel of external stakeholders at IEO’s December 2011 conference. Left to right: Joseph Eichenberger, Chief Evaluator, European Bank for Reconstruction and Development; Jo Marie Griesgraber, Executive Director, New Rules for Global Finance Coalition; Michael Hammer, Executive Director, One World Trust; Jin Liqun, Chairman of Supervisory Board, China Investment Corporation; and Edwin Truman, Senior Fellow, Peterson Institute for International Economics.

    Established in July 2001, the Independent Evaluation Office (IEO) provides objective and independent evaluation on issues related to the IMF. The IEO operates independently of IMF management and at arm’s length from the IMF’s Executive Board. Its goals are to enhance the learning culture within the IMF, strengthen the IMF’s external credibility, promote greater understanding of the work of the IMF throughout the membership, and support the Executive Board’s institutional governance and oversight responsibilities. For further information on the IEO and its work program, please see its website (www.ieo-imf.org) or contact the IEO at +1-202-623-7312 or at ieo@imf.org.

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    Message from the Director

    I am pleased to present the ninth Annual Report of the Independent Evaluation Office (IEO), describing activities during the year from May 1, 2011, to April 30, 2012.

    Last year marked the IEO’s tenth anniversary. To reflect on its first decade, the IEO organized a conference on December 6, 2011 that brought together IMF Management, Executive Board members, senior staff, and external stakeholders, as well as current and past IEO teams. Participants discussed what the IEO has achieved so far and how the IEO can contribute further to the effectiveness and legitimacy of the IMF.

    In opening the conference, I recollected that the IEO was created to strengthen learning and accountability at the IMF, and to enhance understanding among external stakeholders of how the institution works. These tasks are even more important today, when the legitimacy of, and trust in, the IMF are more critical than ever as it plays a central role in helping stabilize the world economy.

    Since 2001, the IEO has produced 18 evaluation reports aimed at strengthening oversight, learning, and transparency—albeit with different emphases. A number of messages have recurred over time, including the need to: strengthen governance and clarify roles and responsibilities within the IMF; apply policies and frame advice with greater even-handedness across the membership; provide incentives for staff to express alternative views internally and to raise difficult issues with country authorities; and better integrate analytical and operational work across departments, promoting more cooperation, fewer turf battles, and less silo-behavior.

    The IEO itself has evolved over the decade. Following the external evaluation in 2006, the IEO has sought to place more emphasis on big policy issues; to target messages more carefully to the Executive Board and authorities; and to prepare more concise reports.

    In reflecting on the office’s work, conference participants expressed the strong sense that the IEO had demonstrated true independence, producing quality reports that have had an impact on the IMF. The Managing Director emphasized the importance of the IEO and looked forward to the IEO continuing to produce honest, fair, and demanding analysis. Several Executive Directors underscored that effective evaluation depends on engagement of all parties involved. They stated that the IEO’s independence and internal access are crucial features that further both learning and oversight, and enhance the Fund’s external credibility.

    Conference participants also suggested lessons for the IEO and ways to enhance its work—including by evaluating IMF activities and performance with less of a lag, while still making sure that it does not interfere with IMF operations; and by making greater efforts to disseminate IEO work within and outside the IMF. Participants also reiterated weaknesses in the framework for implementation and monitoring of follow-up on Board-endorsed recommendations. (This issue is discussed further in Chapter 3 of this report.)

    During FY2012, the IEO issued the report on its evaluation of Research at the IMF: Relevance and Utilization. The evaluation found that the IMF’s vast body of research includes many high-quality products, many of which are widely read in member countries and play a significant role in policymaking—particularly the World Economic Outlook and the Global Financial Stability Report. At the same time, the evaluation found that there is significant scope to improve the relevance and quality of IMF research, and thus enhance its utilization. The report identified a number of steps to this end, including: early consultation with country authorities on research themes, better country and institutional contextualization, and clearer standards for quality control.

    Of particular importance, the Research evaluation found that many studies had conclusions and recommendations that did not appear to flow from the analysis, while other studies seemed to be designed with the conclusions in mind. Moreover, there was a widespread view among IMF staff that research findings need to be aligned with current IMF policies. The report called on IMF Management and the Executive Board to cultivate an open, independent, and innovative research environment, explicitly encouraging staff to explore differing and alternative views. It also recommended greater consultation and cooperation with country authorities, and an enhanced quality review process.

    The findings and recommendations of this evaluation report, as well as the Executive Board’s discussion, are described in Chapter 2. Chapter 2 also reports on the Management Implementation Plan for the IEO report on IMF Performance in the Run-Up to the Financial and Economic Crisis: IMF Surveillance in 2004-07. Also during FY2012, the IEO advanced its work on three new evaluations: “International Reserves: IMF Concerns and Country Perspectives;” “The Role of the IMF as Trusted Advisor;” and “An Assessment of Self-Evaluation Systems.” These evaluations are described briefly in Chapter 4. We expect to issue these evaluation reports in FY2013.

    The process of follow-up on IEO conclusions and recommendations, and monitoring thereof, remain areas of concern for the IEO and the Executive Board of the IMF. During the past year, this was reflected in the back and forth discussions on Management Implementation Plans and the Periodic Monitoring Report, described in some detail in this Annual Report. On May 22, 2012, after the start of FY2013, the IMF Executive Board approved terms of reference for the second external evaluation of the IEO and identified the adequacy of the evaluation process, including follow-up, as an area to be assessed. The IEO looks forward to the conclusions of the external evaluation on this and other issues, which should serve to strengthen the process of independent evaluation at the IMF.

    As we begin a second decade of independent evaluation at the IMF, the IEO remains committed to helping enhance IMF effectiveness in these challenging times.

    Moises J. Schwartz

    Director

    Independent Evaluation Office

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