- International Monetary Fund. Independent Evaluation Office
- Published Date:
- October 2017
Independent Evaluation Office of the International Monetary Fund
2017 ANNUAL REPORT
Message from the Director
I am pleased to present the fourteenth Annual Report of the Independent Evaluation Office, which covers the work of the office from May 1, 2016 through July 31, 2017, and outlines our work program for the year ahead. A significant part of the past activities described in this report were undertaken under the leadership of my predecessor Moisés Schwartz, before I assumed the Director position on February 1, 2017.
In my view, the IEO’s work over the past year has reinforced its reputation as a crucial pillar of IMF governance. The evaluation of the Fund’s role in the euro area crisis—completed under my predecessor’s watch—demonstrated the IEO’s capacity to take on a highly contentious issue and produce a thoughtful, well-balanced assessment. This evaluation has clearly supported Board oversight, helped the Fund to learn from a challenging experience, and underpinned its external credibility by demonstrating a willingness to be open about how difficult decisions are made. It is welcome that the Fund is now moving forward to address a number of issues raised in the report.
The recently completed evaluation of the IMF’s work on social protection focuses on an area that lies outside the IMF’s traditional mandate but where the Fund has been paying increasing attention given the realization that protection of vulnerable groups can ofen be key to sustaining macroeconomic stability. The report finds that since the global financial crisis the Fund has significantly stepped up its work in this area, working in collaboration with development partners like the World Bank. The depth of attention is found to vary quite considerably across countries. To some extent this is justified by differences in country circumstances and the availability of expertise outside the Fund. But there are also variations that seem more idiosyncratic, where attention may depend on staff preferences and interest, and country officials raised concern that IMF value added was sometimes limited. The evaluation concludes by recommending a clearer strategic framework for deciding on the extent of IMF involvement and adequate attention to ensure true value added where the IMF does get involved.
As we approach our current work agenda, it is crucial that we are independent, impartial, and at arm’s length from the Board. At the same time, the IEO cannot afford to be isolated in an ivory tower; we must interact with all stakeholders. First, the IEO needs to maintain a constant dialogue with Fund staff to understand how they see the issues and to discuss solutions. Similarly, external credibility depends on good two-way communication, and one of my priorities since I took on this role has been reaching out to civil society and academics. This provides me with the opportunity to hear their concerns, help them learn more about how the Fund operates, and explain how they can support the IEO in strengthening the Fund’s overall governance. Finally, our most important stakeholders are the member countries of the Fund. It is paramount to have a close relationship with the Executive Board and country officials.
Ultimately, the goal of the IEO is to increase the effectiveness of the Fund in meeting its mandate and to make sure that it is serving the interests of its member countries. This means not just preparing excellent reports but also striving to have an impact by strengthening IMF operations. We need to make an appropriate diagnosis but also to contribute to finding solutions that will gain support from a broad range of key stakeholders. It will then be important to ensure appropriately vigorous follow-up by IMF management and staff to implement Board-endorsed recommendations. This is an area where in my view there is still room for improvement. I therefore welcome the Executive Board’s recent decision to launch a new external evaluation of the IEO itself, which can provide a vehicle to assess and strengthen the effectiveness of the process for follow-up on IEO recommendations.
Director, Independent Evaluation Office