Awaiting revamp, World Bank staff holds breath

The World Bank headquarters in the snow. The bank's staff awaits the details of the implementation of an internal reorganization, which some believe has put the financial institution's work on standby. Photo by: Bruno Sanchez-Andrade Nuño / CC BY

The World Bank has entered 2014 with a long list of to-dos after a year full of headline announcements.

Eighteen months into Jim Kim’s term as president of the Washington, D.C.-based institution, staff, shareholders and outside observers are eagerly anticipating the implementation of his ambitious internal reorganization, with some expressing concern that the internal reforms have put the bank’s real work on standby.

“As long as the bank is not organized in a way that gets work done because it’s busy reorganizing, there’s inevitably going to be concern about the bank’s credibility as a partner and its effectiveness,” Paul Cadario, a former senior manager at the World Bank and now a senior fellow in global innovation at the University of Toronto, told Devex. “So the sooner the bank can get the details out as to how this is going to work, and how things are going to change, the better.”

The institution’s new focus on ending extreme poverty — combined with a strategy to reorganize itself into a “solutions bank” and a pledge to slash $400 million from the operational budget — convinced many observers that the reform was going to be more significant than past efforts to shake up the World Bank.

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    Paul Stephens

    Paul Stephens is a Devex staff writer based in Washington, D.C. His coverage focuses on Latin America and World Bank affairs, as well as Washington's global development scene. As a multimedia journalist, editor and producer, Paul has contributed to the Los Angeles Times, Washington Monthly, CBS Evening News, GlobalPost and the United Nations magazine, among other outlets. He's won a grant from the Pulitzer Center on Crisis Reporting for a 5-month, in-depth reporting project in Yemen after two stints in Georgia - one as a Peace Corps volunteer and another as a communications coordinator for the U.S. Agency for International Development.