World Bank procurement reform: From one-size-fits-all to country-specific

World Bank President Jim Yong Kim. The bank's recently approved reform plans delves into more country- and context-specific procurement strategies. Photo by: Dominic Chavez/World Bank / CC BY-MC-ND

As the World Bank undertakes the most significant overhaul of its procurement policy in decades, the Washington, D.C.-based institution has reignited a debate over how far it should go in relying on client countries’ own procurement systems for bank-financed projects.


In the works for over a year, a basic outline of the reform plans, was approved by the finance institution’s board last month. Implementation is set for 2015, and further elaboration of the policies — as well as additional consultation with industry groups and NGOs — are slated for next year.  

The strategy document makes it clear that the World Bank wants to move toward a more country- and context-specific model, and away from the one-size-fits-all approach that characterizes much of bank-funded procurement.

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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.