Chapter 4: Ongoing Topics and Future Menu of Evaluation Topics

International Monetary Fund. Independent Evaluation Office
Published Date:
September 2011
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As FY2011 came to a close, the IEO was in the process of completing its evaluation of IMF Research: Relevance and Utilization and had provided it to IMF staff for a factual review, consistent with agreed practice. This evaluation, available on the IEO website, focuses on the relevance and utilization of IMF research, with member country authorities as the primary target audience. It also examines the technical quality and the management of research. This evaluation was discussed by the Executive Board in early FY2012 and, therefore, will be covered in IEO’s FY2012 Annual Report.

To prepare to undertake new evaluations, the IEO posted on its website in August 2010 a note on “Possible Evaluation Topics over the Medium Term,” which reflected suggestions received from country authorities, IMF Executive Directors, Management and staff, as well as outside stakeholders. After further consultations with the Executive Board and Management, as provided for in the IEO’s Terms of Reference, the IEO launched two new evaluations, one on IMF advice on international reserves and one on the IMF’s role as a trusted advisor. These topics are outlined below; issues papers for each evaluation are posted for public comment on the IEO website.

The IEO is considering launching additional evaluations. Among the studies that are being considered are: an assessment of bilateral surveillance (to be defined after reviewing the Triennial Surveillance Review scheduled for FY2012), an assessment of the self-evaluation systems within the IMF, and an assessment of IMF contributions to fragile states. In addition, the Board and others have asked that IEO conduct an evaluation on the management of the economic and financial crisis, once it is clear that such an evaluation will not interfere with ongoing operations.

Table 1 shows the status of IEO evaluations completed or in progress.

Table 1.Completed and Ongoing IEO Work Program
Prolonged Use of IMF ResourcesCompleted (August 2002)
The IMF and Recent Capital Account CrisesCompleted (May 2003)
Fiscal Adjustment in IMF-Supported ProgramsCompleted (July 2003)
The IMF and Argentina, 1991-2001Completed (July 2004)
The IMF’s Role in PRSPs and the PRGFCompleted (June 2004)
IMF Technical AssistanceCompleted (January 2005)
The IMF’s Approach to Capital Account LiberalizationCompleted (April 2005)
IMF Support to Jordan, 1989-2004Completed (October 2005)
Financial Sector Assessment ProgramCompleted (November 2005)
Multilateral SurveillanceCompleted (March 2006)
Structural Conditionality in IMF-Supported ProgramsCompleted (October 2007)
The IMF and Aid to Sub-Saharan AfricaCompleted (January 2007)
IMF Exchange Rate Policy AdviceCompleted (March 2007)
Governance of the IMFCompleted (April 2008)
IMF Involvement in International Trade Policy IssuesCompleted (May 2009)
IMF Interactions with Member CountriesCompleted (November 2009)
IMF Performance in the Run-Up to the Current Financial and Economic Crisis: IMF Surveillance in 2004-07Completed (January 2011)
Research at the IMF: Relevance and UtilizationCompleted (May 2011)
International Reserves: IMF Concerns and Country PerspectivesIn progress
The Role of the IMF as Trusted AdvisorIn progress

International Reserves: IMF Advice and Country Perspectives

This evaluation will focus on the IMF’s policy advice to its member countries on international reserves in the course of its multilateral, regional, and bilateral surveillance. The objective of the evaluation is to assess the nature and quality of IMF advice to member countries on international reserves against the background of its mandate, taking into account the perspective of country authorities. It will cover bilateral, regional, and multilateral surveillance. Key questions to be considered will include:

  • Does the IMF have clearly articulated policies regarding international reserves?
  • Is IMF analysis and advice based on appropriate definitions of international reserves?
  • Has IMF advice been consistent, evenhanded, and useful?
  • What is the analytical basis for the IMF’s policy advice?

The evaluation will be based on the experience of member countries chosen to reflect a variety of characteristics that are likely to be important in the context of the evaluation, as well as to provide regional balance and include both emerging market economies and advanced countries. The evaluation will be based on interviews and document review; it will also incorporate and build on relevant findings of previous IEO evaluations.

The analysis will largely focus on the period 2000–10. The beginning of the evaluation period corresponds to the start of substantial buildup of reserves in a number of member countries that continued uninterrupted until the beginning of the recent financial crisis and resumed in 2010. The end-date for the evaluation was chosen to elicit post-crisis views on reserve accumulation but avoid interfering with current operations of the IMF.

The Role of the IMF as Trusted Advisor

Gaining the confidence of the authorities is critical if the IMF is to help influence policymaking. This evaluation will thus seek to determine whether and in what circumstances the IMF is perceived as a trusted advisor by its member countries. It will also examine the factors that may affect authorities’ choice to engage in a substantive way with the IMF, including: the impact of context, policy issues, and circumstances; and potential disclosure concerns with respect to advice on sensitive issues.

With the onset of the global crisis in 2007–08, the Fund’s engagement with its member countries evolved, as the Fund was called to respond urgently with both financing and policy advice. In light of its experience with the crisis, the Fund also adopted a number of initiatives aimed at strengthening its surveillance (with a greater multilateral focus) and providing member countries with more complete assessments of global risks, linkages, and spillovers. Whether and how these initiatives have influenced the perception of the Fund as a trusted advisor is also an area this evaluation will explore.

The evaluation will build on the findings of previous IEO evaluations, particularly the evaluation of IMF Interactions with Member Countries. It will also be based on information gathered from interviews, surveys, and document review. The evaluation will then draw lessons from its findings to help strengthen the IMF’s role as a partner to its member countries.

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