Operations Policy

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Operations Policy

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The operations policy function of the World Bank is broadly defined as determining standards, policies, and guidelines for lending, technical assistance, and other operations to best assist countries in their development.

1946 - 1972

Upon the opening of the World Bank in 1946, functional responsibility for operations policy was not ascribed to any particular World Bank unit, as the Bank's organizational structure was still in the process of being established.

Departmental responsibility for the operations policy function was first initiated as a result of the closure of the Loan Department (LOD) in 1952. LOD functions were divided between geographically organized Area Departments, which were responsible for country relations, and the Technical Operations Department (TOD), which was responsible for project identification, appraisal and supervision. In addition, TOD was responsible for operations policy-related activities, such as policy formulation, research, and advice in support of the activities of the Area Departments.

1972 - 1982

TOD and its successor, the Projects Department (PRJ, 1965-1972), maintained responsibility for operations policy-related functions until a significant reorganization of the Bank's operations in 1972.The expansion of Bank lending operations in the late 1960s and early 1970s prompted the 1972 reorganization. The reorganization included the elevation of the former Area Departments to new Regional Vice Presidencies (RVP), and the decentralization of most operational

staff from the former PRJ to new sector-oriented Projects Departments located in the RVPs. Remaining PRJ staff were organized into centralized sector-oriented departments known as Central Projects Staff (CPS). The resulting Operations Complex, containing both RVPs and CPS departments, was overseen by Senior Vice President of Operations (SVPOP) Burke Knapp.

The reorganization resulted in the assignment of policy formulation responsibilities to two key groups: the Central Projects Staff (CPS) and the Development Policy Staff (DPS). Policy formulation was divided between "operating policy", which was the responsibility of CPS, and "development policy", undertaken by DPS. The DPS development policy was defined as strategies and activities developing countries may undertake, and focused on formulating development policy at

both general and country levels. CPS's operating policy work related to the development of policies, guidelines, and standards directing the Bank's lending and advisory activities. More specifically, CPS's operations policy development involved:

  • preparing policy papers outlining the basic principles and approaches of the Bank relating to project and sector work;

  • preparing guidelines and standards for particular problems (e.g. procurement, pre-investment, etc.);

  • collecting and interpreting data to provide better access to information required for sector and project work;

  • developing monitoring systems to effectively monitor the project cycle; and

  • developing analytical tools and implementing their use in operations.

The CPSVP consisted of the following subordinate units: the sector departments of the Agriculture Department (AGP), the Education Department (EDP), the Public Utilities Department (PBP), the Transportation Department (TRP), the Development Finance Corporations Department (DFC); and the Central Operating Projects Departments (COPD) consisting of staff in the areas of Industry, Population and Nutrition, Tourism, and Urban Development.

The CPSVP also contained the new Projects Advisory Staff (PAS). The PAS served as the main unit responsible for coordinating the newly articulated operating policy functions within the CPSVP, becoming the first World Bank unit with clearly defined responsibilities related to operations policy. PAS focused on cross-sectoral and general operations policy issues, and served as the main unit responsible for coordinating work programs for policy formulation, guidelines,

and standards. The PAS consisted of the following advisers: economic, environmental, financial, pre-investment, procurement, supervision, and training. PAS consisted of no subordinate departments or units.

The sector departments and COPD of the CPSVP shared some policy formulation responsibilities with PAS, but were more heavily focused on providing professional development and project support to their respective sectors in the RVPs and developing sector-specific policy. This differed from PAS, which provided cross-sectoral support and policy development, but also focused on broader non-sectoral matters such as lending and advisory services.

Upon its creation, PAS was led by Director Herman G. van der Tak. Warren C. Baum served as the Vice President for CPSVP.

In January 1977, an adviser position for Women in Development (WID) was created in PAS.

1982 - 1987

In February 1982, the CPSVP was terminated. As a result, the PAS, the sector departments, and the COPD were absorbed by the newly established Operations Policy Vice President (OPSVP). Like its predecessor, the OPSVP reported to the Senior Vice President of Operations (SVPOP) Ernest Stern, who oversaw and managed the Bank's Operations Complex. Within OPSVP, PAS remained the focal point for operations policy functions and activities. The PAS continued to operate alongside centralized sector departments and units within OPSVP. Further, a new Country Policy Department (CPD) was established, absorbing former Development Policy Staff (DPS) who focused on country policy and strategy. CPD's main

responsibility included improving country and economic sector work in Bank operations.

Warren C. Baum remained as the Vice President of the new OPSVP, but was succeeded shortly thereafter by Syed Shahid Husain in 1983. Herman G. van der Tak remained the Director of PAS.

In October 1983, the Projects Advisory Staff (PAS) was restructured and renamed the Projects Policy Department (PPD). PPD maintained a corps of advisers with expertise relevant to cross-sectoral operational topics. PPD responsibilities included:

  • formulating operational policies, standards, and guidelines;

  • providing advice and reviews for selected projects and project-related work to the regions;

  • conducting training and external liaison; and

  • supporting the OPSVP in discharging his responsibilities to the Loan Committee.

At the date of its establishment, PPD included the following subordinate units: the Environment, Science, and Technology Unit (PPDES); the Policy and Review Unit (PPDPR); the Public Sector Management Unit (PPDPS); and the Procurement Unit (PPDPC). PPD also included the Adviser for Women in Development (WID).

In 1983, Visvanathan Rajagopalan succeeded Herman G. van der Tak as Director of the new PPD. In 1986, Hans-Eberhard Kopp succeeded Rajagopalan as Director of PPD.

1987 - 1992

During the Bank-wide 1987 reorganization, the OPSVP was terminated. Many of the units formerly contained in OPSVP, including sector policy oriented departments, were transferred to the new Policy and Research Vice Presidency (PRE). CPD functions were transferred to the new Economic Advisory Staff (EAS). Within the Projects Policy Department (PPD), the Public Sector Management Unit (PPDPS) and the WID Adviser were also transferred to PRE. The remaining operational policy oriented functions of PPD were absorbed by the new Central Operations Department (COD), which joined EAS, the Regional Vice Presidencies (RVP), the Vice President of Cofinancing (COF), and the newly established Vice President of

Financial Intermediation (FIS) as part of the new Operations Complex reporting to the Senior Vice President of Operations (OPNSV).

The Central Operations Department (COD) reported to the Senior Vice President of Operations (OPNSV) Moeen Qureshi who oversaw and managed the Bank's Operations Complex. COD responsibilities included:

  • planning and production of operational directives, and providing related advice and training to staff;

  • reviewing and monitoring project implementation, including preparation of reports to management (PIRs), and managing the Management Information System (MIS) portfolio module;

  • advising operations staff on financial and economic analysis;

  • coordinating technical assistance activities, including liaison with the UNDP;

  • acting as link with the Planning and Research Complex (PPR); and

  • providing operational support with regard to procurement matters in the form of advice, guidelines and policy formulation and analysis.

At the time of its establishment, the COD had the following subordinate units: the Operations Policy Unit (CODOP); the Procurement Unit (CODPR); and the Operations Monitoring Unit (CODMO).

In 1987, Ducksoo Lee assumed the role as Director for COD. He was succeeded by Hans Wyss in 1990.

In July 1992, the Operations Information Services Division (PBDIS) was transferred from the Planning and Budgeting Department (PBD) to COD and its acronym changed to CODIS.

In late 1992, World Bank President Lewis Preston terminated the senior vice-presidencies, including OPNSV. As a consequence, COD and its subordinate units were transferred to the short lived Sector and Operations Vice Presidency (OSPVP).

1993 - 1997

In January 1993, OSPVP was terminated and units and functions were absorbed by the new Operations Policy Department (OPR) located in the new Vice President, Human Resources Development and Operations Policy (HROVP).

The Operations Policy Department (OPR) was established on January 1, 1993, and reported to HROVP Armeane M. Choksi. OPR joined two other departments in HROVP: the Population, Health, and Nutrition Department (PHN) and the Education and Social Policy Department (ESP). OPR continued the functions of the former COD. It additionally absorbed the International Economic Relations Division (EXTIE) and the UN Office in New York (EXTNY) units from the Bank's External Relations Department (EXT). OPR responsibilities included:

  • developing and disseminating policies and best practices in project economics and project finance;

  • producing Operational Directives;

  • monitoring and evaluating portfolio management;

  • providing policy and operational guidance on procurement matters;

  • developing and operating information management tools and applications, managing the Sector Library; and

  • managing the Bank's contributions with the Development

Committee, and relations with UN agencies, OECD, EEC and bilateral aid agencies, as well as with NGOs.

At its establishment the OPR consisted of the following subordinate units: the Operations Policy Group (OPRPG); the Procurement Policy and Coordination Unit (OPRPR); the Information Services Division (OPRIS); the Sector Library (OPRSL); and the International Economic Relations Division (OPRIE).

In 1993, James W. Adams assumed the role of Director for OPR.

In 1996, OPR briefly operated independently after it was separated from the Human Capital Development and Operations Policy Vice Presidency (HCO, formerly HROVP). At this time, Myrna Alexander succeeded James W. Adams as Director for OPR.

1997 - 2011

The OPR was terminated in 1997 as part of another Bank-wide reorganization. As a result, the Information Services Division (OPRIS) and the Sector Library (OPRSL) were absorbed by the new Information Services Group (ISG). The International Economic Relations Division (OPRIE) responsible for liaison with international organizations and NGOs was absorbed by the new Social Development Department's Non-Governmental Organization Division (SDVNG). The operations policy related units of the Procurement Policy andCoordination Unit (OPRPR) and the Operations Policy Group (OPRPG) were absorbed by two newly established Bank organizational units: the Operational Core Services Network (OCS) and the Operations Policy and Strategy Group (MDOPS) of the Front Office of the Managing Directors.

First, the new Operational Core Services Network (OCS) responsibilities included procurement policy and advisory functions absorbed from OPRPR, along with new responsibilities related to investment lending and financial management. OCS reported to Bank Managing Director Caio Koch-Weiser. OCS operated in four areas: quality promotion; procurement; financial management; and resource management. At its establishment, the OCS consisted of the following subordinate units: the Operational Services Group (OCSOS) and the Procurement Policy and Services Group (OCSPR). Katherine Sierra served as Vice President and Head of Network for OCS. Second, the new Operations Policy and Strategy Group (MDOPS) absorbed the operation policy functions of theformer OPRPG, which included developing and revising Operational Policies (OP), Bank Procedures (BP), and Good Practices (GP) as part of the Bank's Operational Manual (OM). MDOPS was also responsible for review and reform of operational Country Assistance Strategies (CAS), structural adjustment lending (SAL), and macro-economic policy. The MDOPS reported to Managing Directors Caio Koch-Weiser and Sven Sandstrom, and joined the newly established Quality Assurance Group (MDOQA) in the Front Office of the Managing Directors.

Joanne Salop served as Director for the MDOPS.

In July 1999, MDOPS and MDOQA were separated from the Front Office of the Managing Directors. MDOPS was renamed the Operations Policy and Strategy Vice Presidency (OPS), and Joanne Salop became its first Vice President. The MDOQA acronym

was changed to QAG (Quality Assurance Group). In the same year, the OCS was re-organized into the following subordinate units: the Administrative and Client Support Group (OCSAS); the Operational Services and Knowledge Sharing Group (OCSOK); and the Financial Management Unit (OCSFM).

In January 2001, the functions and staff of OCS, OPS, and QAG were merged to form the new Operational Policy and Country Services Network (OPC).

At its establishment, the OPC consisted of the following subordinate units: the Country Assistance Strategy (CAS) Team and Country Directors Support Desk (OPCCS); the Comprehensive Development Framework (OPCDF); the Financial Management Unit (OPCFM); the Operational Services Unit (OPCOS); the Policy Review and Dissemination Unit (OPCPD); the Products and Services Unit (OPCPG); the Procurement Policy and Services Group (OPCPR); the Operations Processes and Systems Unit (OPCPS); and the Quality Assurance Group (QAG).

Joanne Salop assumed the role of Vice President and Head of Network for the new OPC.

In 2002, James Adams succeeded Joanne Salop as Vice President and Head of Network for OPC. Around this time, the following units were added to OPC: the Country Economics Unit(OPCCE); the Delivery Management Unit (OPCDM); the Investment Lending Unit (OPCIL); and the Country Services Unit (OPCCS). The Results Secretariat (OPCCR) and the Global Monitoring Secretariat (GMS) were also added to OPC. OPCDF, OPCFM, OPCPD, OPCPR, and QAG remained unchanged in OPC.

Around 2006, OPC added the Harmonization Unit (OPCCH), the Aid Effectiveness Unit (OPCAE), the Fragile/Conflict Affected Countries Group (OPCFC), and the Results Secretariat (OPCRX).

In 2007, Jeffrey Gutman succeeded James Adams as Vice President and Head of Network for OPC. In the same year, the Quality Assurance Group (QAG) was separated from OPC and began reporting to Bank Managing Directors Juan Jose Daboub and Ngozi


In 2011, the QAG was re-integrated into OPC.


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