- Moisés Schwartz, and Ray C. Rist
- Published Date:
- January 2017
Independent Evaluation Office
of the International Monetary Fund
The International Monetary Fund and the Learning Organization
The Role of Independent Evaluation
Moisés J. Schwartz and Ray C. Rist
© 2016 International Monetary Fund
Cover design: designMind, Washington, DC
Joint Bank-Fund Library
Names: Schwartz, Moisés J. (Moisés Jaime), 1962– | Rist, Ray C. | International Monetary Fund.
Title: The International Monetary Fund and the learning organization : the role of independent evaluation / Moisés J. Schwartz and Ray C. Rist.
Description: Washington, DC : International Monetary Fund, 2016. | Includes bibliographical references.
Identifiers: ISBN 9781475546675 (paper)
Subjects: LCSH: International Monetary Fund. Independent Evaluation Office. | Financial institutions, International—Evaluation. | Corporate governance. | Organizational effectiveness.
Classification: LCC HG3881.5.158 S376 2016
Disclaimer: The views expressed in this volume are those of the authors and do not necessarily represent those of the IEO or the IMF.
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Moisés Schwartz and Ray Rist have written a provocative and bold book. Their message is simple: the creation of the Independent Evaluation Office at the IMF was not the end of a journey, but rather the beginning of a new era in which independent evaluation has played a critical role in the development and enrichment of the Fund. In producing systematic and thorough reports on the IMF’s policies and operations, the IEO has served as both a learning and accountability device, and thus it has helped enhance the credibility of the organization. Nonetheless, as the authors underscore, independent evaluation at the Fund can still offer the institution additional advantages and benefits. To do so, however, independent evaluation at the Fund needs to be continuously nurtured by all its stakeholders.
Independent evaluation has to be put into perspective: it comes along after the fact and makes a judgment on whether and how well the Fund did what it was supposed to do at a specific moment in time, sometimes under very difficult circumstances and without necessarily having all the information and conditions that could have proven helpful. Independent evaluation allows for the drawing of lessons that ultimately contribute to forging a better Fund. Such should be our aspiration. Hence, having a clear and shared understanding of the positive externalities that independent evaluation yields for the Fund is paramount.
With this in mind, I invite the membership of the Fund, its Executive Board, management, and staff, to carefully reflect on the messages of this book, and to ensure that independent evaluation at the IMF contributes to the benefit of the organization.
Governor, Banco de México
Chairman, International Monetary and Financial Committee
During most of my professional career I have been connected, in one way or another, to the International Monetary Fund (IMF). In every capacity in which I have interacted with the Fund, I have always been impressed by the quality and dedication of its staff, by the depth and thoroughness of the Fund’s analysis, and by the positive impact that the IMF aims to have on the well-being of its member countries.
My first interaction with the Fund took place in the early 1990s when as a young economist at the Central Bank of Mexico I was invited to join two IMF missions on central banking operations in Costa Rica and El Salvador. In these two missions I experienced firsthand the staff’s dedication and hard work in order to provide authorities of these two countries useful advice in their implementation of monetary policy. Later on, both at the Central Bank of Mexico and at the Ministry of Finance, I had the opportunity to meet with Fund missions and personnel on numerous occasions to discuss surveillance, technical assistance, and policy-related issues. These discussions were always helpful and thorough. All these interactions reaffirmed for me the widespread notion that the Fund staff is its most valuable asset.
Later in my career, I had the privilege to represent my own country, Mexico, and seven other member countries on the IMF Executive Board. During that time, I was always impressed by the work of the Fund, the superb analytical quality of its reports, and the important difference it makes in the lives of people. I was particularly impressed by the staff’s dedication to program design in countries in my constituency, and by the interesting policy discussions we had at the Executive Board.
More recently, and for the last more-than six years, as the third Director of the Independent Evaluation Office (IEO), I have been able to see the Fund in a very different perspective, specifically, as an accountable and learning organization. During my time at the IEO, I have witnessed the positive value of independent evaluation for an institution such as the Fund; but I have also experienced the challenges that independent evaluation faces in contributing to learning and helping to enhance the effectiveness and legitimacy of the institution.
During my time as Director of the IEO, the office produced evaluation reports on topics related to crisis management and response, surveillance, research, forecasts, and statistics, among others. As diverse as these reports were, to varying degrees many of them were met with concern and anxiety within the IMF itself, whether at the initiation phase, at the conclusion, or during the follow-up process. Over these years, I have gathered that the Fund has not yet developed a culture that fully embraces the learning opportunities offered by independent evaluation.
The idea of writing a book about the IEO, its mission, and its relationship with Fund stakeholders came to me gradually as I started encountering challenges to the independent evaluation function within the organization. Some of these have been minor, and relatively easy to overcome, while others have presented more significant hurdles. Taken altogether, these obstacles point to a deeper underlying defensiveness towards independent evaluation that prevents the IMF from fully benefiting from the work of the IEO. The preparation of my last report as IEO Director, The IMF and the Crises in Greece, Ireland, and Portugal, further reinforced this perspective (see Chapter 6).
There is no doubt in my mind that the IEO has contributed to the credibility and legitimacy of the work of the IMF, but it is also clear to me that a more constructive engagement between the IEO and the rest of the institution could further enhance IEO’s role in helping the Fund reach even higher levels of performance. As explained in the following pages, I believe that the Fund has viewed the IEO as an accountability mechanism rather than as a learning instrument. And it is perhaps this approach that has kept the IMF from developing a culture of learning from independent evaluation.
It is out of the desire to help the Fund develop a stronger learning culture and benefit more actively from independent evaluation by shifting perceptions and attention among the staff, management and Executive Board that I have joined forces with Ray C. Rist, a leading expert on evaluation. Our goal is to try to unveil the remaining elements that are still needed in order for the Fund to fully benefit from the IEO’s work. I hope that the analysis and findings of this book will help prompt actions to make learning from independent evaluation a more vibrant element of the Fund’s activities.
Writing this book required a thorough review of documents that have not only determined the creation of the IEO but also the procedures that it has followed throughout the years. We also benefited from numerous conversations with IEO colleagues and especially thank Alisa Abrams and Louellen Stedman for their comments on previous versions of the manuscript.
Moisés J. Schwartz
Evaluation Cooperation Group
Ex Post Assessment
Ex Post Evaluation
External Relations Department (IMF)
financial sector assessment
Financial Sector Assessment Program
Global Financial Stability Report
Group of Seven (Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, United Kingdom, and United States)
Group of Twenty (G7 plus Argentina, Australia, Brazil, China, India, Indonesia, Korea, Mexico, Russia, Saudi Arabia, South Africa, Turkey, and the European Union)
Independent Evaluation Group (World Bank)
international financial institution
International Monetary and Financial Committee (IMF)
Management Implementation Plan
Office of Internal Audit (IMF)
Periodic Monitoring Report
Poverty Reduction Strategy
Poverty Reduction Strategy Paper
Poverty Reduction and Growth Facility
special drawing right
selected issues paper
Strategy, Policy, and Review Department (IMF)
Terms of Reference
World Economic Outlook
There is nothing more difficult to carry out nor more doubtful of success, nor more dangerous to handle, than to initiate a new order of things. . . . This quality . . . arises . . . from the incredulity of mankind, who do not truly believe in anything new until they have had the actual experience of it.
The Prince, 1513