The IMF Survey spoke with Eduard Brau, Director of the IMF's Office of Internal Audit and Inspection, about how the IMF learns from its experience and evaluates its policies and procedures.
IMF SURVEY: How does the IMF evaluate its effectiveness?
BRAU: Evaluation is about learning, improving results relative to objectives, and translating feedback and error correction into more effective performance. It can be done well in different ways. The IMF has long had a culture of vigorous debate and continuous learning. Close scrutiny, review, and debate precede the submission of policy recommendations to member governments or to the IMF's management or Executive Board. This is intrinsic to the organization, and one of the pillars of its strength. The IMF's internal review process seeks to mobilize the best available advice and serves as a system of checks and balances.
When the IMF commits financial resources to a member or draws a conclusion from its surveillance of a member's economic policies, these decisions are approved by its 24-member Executive Board, which represents all 181 member countries. Board proposals are scrutinized by a representative of the country's government, representatives of other governments, and the authorities and independent resources behind them.
Periodically, the Board steps back and takes stock of what has been learned from country experiences. All basic policies, ranging from the use of IMF financial resources to policy surveillance, are periodically reviewed by Executive Directors. Reviews are sometimes preceded by, or conducted in parallel with, conferences with academic advisors.
The review process also relies on input from outside experts. On specific countries, IMF departments may invite country specialists outside the organization to contribute their views. Some observers see the IMF as a doctrinaire or monolithic institution. But the IMF prides itself on speaking with one voice when it advises a country or assists in the design of an adjustment program. This single voice is the product of robust debate and a careful, and extensive, review process.
IMF SURVEY: Who is responsible for evaluating various aspects of the IMF's work?
BRAU: The IMF's evaluation process has five principal actors: the staff, an Audit Office, an External Audit Committee, external evaluators, and ad hoc evaluators. The first two-the staff and the Office of Internal Audit and Inspection-are mechanisms that are built into the...