See the paper at http://www.imf.org/external/np/exr/docs/2003/021303.pdf and the PIN at http://www.imf.org/external/np/sec/pn/2003/pn0333.htm.
Interestingly, a number of international organizations, central banks, and finance ministries in emerging market and developing economies have sought advice from the IMF on how to improve their external communications, mainly in the areas of media relations and use of the Internet.
For more information on AFR’s strategic approach, see paragraph 46 below.
The Managing Director’s press briefings and interviews are supplemented by biweekly press briefings at IMF headquarters by the Director of EXR.
Among the steps taken recently by the Executive Board to increase its engagement on communication issues are the report of the Board’s Working Group on Enhancing Communication with National Legislators; the establishment of a Board committee on the IMF Annual Report; and the formation of a working group to study publication of documents and information on the IMF’s external website in multiple languages.
See the accompanying Background Paper for more detailed information about each type of activity.
Publishing policies and an IMF-wide publications budget are overseen by an interdepartmental Publications Committee. For additional information on publications, see Section V of the Background Paper.
In common parlance, “outreach” often includes media and publishing as well as more direct, targeted forms of communication, but the narrower definition of “outreach” activities used in this paper is more helpful for considering communication priorities and resource costs. “Outreach” as used here is broader, however, in one respect: it can include government officials outside of the ministries of finance, central banks, and planning and budget offices with whom IMF missions usually meet; it could include, for example, officials in foreign ministries and aid departments in donor countries, and ministries of health and education in program countries.
The primary purpose of improving internal communication is to improve the quality and efficiency of the staff’s work. Good internal communication, even on purely “internal” matters, such as human resources decisions, administration, security, etc., can help promote high morale and foster an esprit de corps that strengthens the external communication effort. This paper does not review the regular, large flow of internal communications, mainly from the Human Resources Department (HRD) and the Technology and General Services Department (TGS), aimed at informing staff of various developments.
The topics covered under the primary output headings vary slightly, however, from the taxonomy applied internally by the IMF for time reporting and cost accounting purposes.
Two important aspects of IMF communications have been excluded from this paper in order to keep the scope more manageable and focused. One is information technology (IT): TGS has pointed out the importance of the technological underpinning for better communications (both internal and external) that can allow the linking of internal operations—authoring, storing, retrieving, dissemination—to external use of the IMF’s storehouse of knowledge and information. As TGS notes, information needs to be easily found, retrieved, and repurposed for different audiences, internally and worldwide. The second is the language dimension: multiple languages (not only translation and interpretation, but also language training for staff) are important for achieving the IMF’s communication objectives. Publishing in languages other than English was reviewed extensively in the 2003 Board paper, and a working group comprising Executive Directors and senior IMF staff is being formed to study further a key aspect: web posting of documents and information in multiple languages. Accordingly, it seems appropriate to postpone discussion of multi-language publishing pending the outcome of the working group’s deliberations. (See also Box 1 in the Background Paper.)
See the Report of the Executive Directors’ Working Group on Enhancing Communication with National Legislators at http://www.imf.org/external/np/ed/2004/ecnl/index.htm.
The IMF Archives, open to the public since 1996, serves as a valuable information resource to journalists, and other researchers by offering a wide range of material documenting the IMF’s operations, activities, and relations with member countries over time. Public availability of the IMF’s archival material demonstrates openness and transparency regarding the policies and decisions of the IMF and contributes to improved knowledge and understanding of the IMF and its role in the world economy.
Another IMF publication that deserves mention here is the Annual Report on Exchange Arrangements and Exchange Restrictions (AREAER), which is used regularly in business and academic institutions.
IMF website statistics count only page views (page impressions) not “hits.” When a user clicks on a link, or types a URL in the address line of a browser, a request is sent to a server for a page. A page usually equals many hits, as the page may contain multiple elements such as HTML text, images, etc., many of which would count as separate hits. In contrast, page views (page impressions) count only the number of pages viewed and do not count the supporting graphic files and other elements of a page. For more information about IMF website statistics, see Section IV of the Background Paper.
The e-mailboxes for queries from the public are email@example.com and, for country-specific queries, xxxContact@imf.org, where xxx = the country abbreviation used by the IMF. The fax number is 1-202-623-6278.
This could also include more extensive use of speeches, lectures, op-eds, and articles for popular and technical publications after the conclusion of an Article IV consultation (with the associated publication of documents and press notices).
Publication of most types of papers is “presumed” but still requires the country’s consent.
The text of the Guide appears at http://www.imf.org/external/np/cso/eng/2003/101003.htm.
EXR helps in various ways—see the Background Paper for more information. In individual countries, EXR’s involvement tends to be consultative—offering advice on the tenor of interaction with specific groups; facilitating contacts; writing and editing background material; preparing and placing newspaper articles and letters to the editor; and monitoring and responding across a range of media. EXR also plays a role in facilitating contacts between missions and CSOs that operate outside of individual countries; meetings are regularly arranged on a broad range of countries. EXR also arranges seminars for legislators and CSO representatives from individual program countries as well as groups of countries.
In line with the recommendation of the Executive Directors’ Working Group on Enhancing Communications with National Legislators to increase IMF communication with legislators, EXR has drafted guidelines for staff, which are currently being reviewed by departments.
As part of the communication effort on S&C assessments, there is a need to flag the limitations of what S&C assessments can do. Although they can provide a useful framework for identifying potential weaknesses in members’ policies, such S&C assessments can only go so far in diagnosing problems. Above all, regulators and policymakers should not consider positive S&C assessments as substitutes for developing an in-depth understanding of the risks and vulnerabilities in their respective systems.
Terms related to data and statistics were consistently in the top 10 queries performed with the search engine on www.imf.org. “More statistical data” was the overwhelming first choice when users were asked which improvements they would most like to see on www.imf.org. For more information, see Section IV of the Background Paper.
TA is unlikely to receive much public attention, no matter what communications efforts are undertaken, as long as technical assistance reports are not published, or made more widely available to the IMF’s interlocutors.
EXR was charged in July 2003 with coordinating management’s internal communications, as chair of an interdepartmental Internal Communication Group (ICG), with TGS and HRD as its other members. To better understand how large international organizations conduct internal communications, the ICG conducted a survey in November/December 2003. The survey found, among other things, that international organizations recognize that they have to develop and convey a unified message so that staff can fully understand and endorse organizational goals and policies. The ICG has initiated and been actively involved in the preparation of a number of communications from management to staff. For example, immediately after the August 1, 2004, announcement of an elevated security threat, the ICG sent several IMF-wide e-mails on the evolving situation and arranged a town hall meeting on August 2 for management to address staff’s security concerns.
The Policy Development and Review Department (PDR) has provided briefings for EXR staff on current policy issues and developments, and EXR has provided more general briefings on IMF issues for staff in some support departments—these practices could be adopted more widely.