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The Finance, Private Sector Development, and Infrastructure Network (FPSI) was created in 1997 as part of President Wolfensohn's reorganization of the World Bank. The reorganization's objective was to strike a better balance between "country focus" and "sectoral excellence". It was also motivated by the recognition that the Bank's development programs were excessively driven by a culture of lending, and there was a the need to increase attention on client needs and the quality of results. To facilitate sharing of expertise and knowledge, the Bank established networks that linked Bank-wide communities of staff working in the same field across organizational boundaries and with external partners. The networks were intended to link staff working in the same sectors throughout the Bank, whether the staff member was located in the regional vice presidencies, central vice presidencies' sectoral departments, Independent Evaluation Group (IEG, formerly the Operations Evaluation Group [OED]), World Bank Institute (WBI, formerly the Economic Development Institute [EDI]), or Development Economics (DEC). The objectives and responsibilities of the networks were many: reduce fragmentation; increase information flow; set priorities; manage quality; run the information system; consolidate external partnerships; vet staff promotions; and disseminate best practices. The work programs of network staff focused on:
- Global knowledge - putting the best development knowledge in the hands of Bank task teams; ensuring that the knowledge base was accessible to external clients; and contributing to the growth of the knowledge base.
- Enhanced skills - developing and providing content for training courses; establishing professional and technical standards for professional development.
- Shared strategies - assisting regional and central units to develop a common sector agenda, and ensuring that skills are effectively deployed across the entire network. Network leadership assumed responsibility for global programs, sector strategy development and evaluation, strategic partnerships, and learning and dissemination.
- Best teams and best practices - improving the Bank's flexibility and mobility by building stronger task teams and delivering higher quality products.
- Institutional initiatives - providing substantial support for new Bank-wide initiatives, such as social development, rural development, financial sector, anti-corruption, human resources, and knowledge partnerships.
FPSI was created along with three other networks: the Poverty Reduction and Economic Management Network (PREM); the Human Development Network (HDN); and the Environmentally and Socially Sustainable Network (ESSD).
FPSI absorbed the staff and functions from the former Finance and Private Sector Development Vice Presidency (FPD) as well as the Transportation, Water, and Urban Development Department (TWU) of the former Environmentally Sustainable Development Vice Presidency (ESD).
At its establishment, the FPSI consisted of four subordinate departments: the Financial Sector Department (FSD); the Private Sector Development Department (PSD); the Energy, Mining, and Telecommunications Department (EMT); and the Transportation, Water, and Urban Development Department (TWU). The objectives of FPSI included:
- developing vibrant private sectors with rapid job growth by implementing the financial sector reinforcement program;
- speeding up the emergence of livable, bankable, and competitive cities;
- promoting the growth in energy and infrastructure provision that is environmentally sensitive;
- stemming infrastructure deficit; and
- sharing in the promise of the Information Age.
In 1998, FPSI added the financial sector oriented Special Financial Operations Unit (SFO) and the Capital Markets Development Department (CMD) to address the East Asia Financial Crisis of 1997.
Jean Francois-Rischard, former VP of FPD, served as FPSI Vice President and Head of Network at the inception of the FPSI, but was later replaced by Masood Ahmed in 1998, who served as an acting VP and Head of Network.
The FPSI was short lived,however, and was terminated in January 1999. The FPSI was partially terminated because it was too large and oversaw multiple sector focuses. World Bank Group President James D. Wolfensohn also sought greater integration of the World Bank and its affiliate IFC, which specialized in private sector development advisory and investment services. The integration was the creation of the Joint IFC and Bank Private Sector Development and Infrastructure Vice Presidency (PSIVP). Functions and staff from PSD, EMT, and TWU departments of FPSI were transferred to the new PSIVP. The staff and functions of FSD were transferred to the new Financial Operations Vice Presidency (FIOVP), which became the Financial Sector Vice Presidency (FSEVP) shortly thereafter in July 1999.