World Bank's new corporate scorecard aims to align lending to goals

World Bank President Jim Yong Kim speaks with staff at the bank’s headquarters in Delhi, India. The World Bank will soon finalize a "corporate scorecard" that it would use to align performance metrics and incentives across offices. Photo by: Graham Crouch / World Bank / CC BY-NC-ND

The World Bank is in the process of finalizing a new “corporate scorecard” that the bank will use to better align its lending with the twin goals of eliminating extreme poverty and promoting shared prosperity.

The new scorecard — a set of metrics used to analyze the Washington, D.C.-based institution’s performance and the broader development context — was released in April, but is still being finalized ahead of the bank’s next round of meetings in October. Although discussions about what indicators and target goals are most appropriate are still ongoing, and the document is full of “tbd’s” and placeholders, the updated version shows the general direction the World Bank is heading with the tool.

In the past, the scorecard has mostly been used as a communications and accountability tool, especially with the bank’s board of directors, but the bank’s senior leadership wants to use the new version as a management tool by aligning performance metrics and incentives across offices.

“We don't want to be counting things for the sake of counting it, we want to be counting it because it's driving the right incentives and behaviors,” Mariam Sherman, director for results, openness and effectiveness at the World Bank and responsible for the development of the new scorecard, told Devex.

Sherman called the tool a “work in progress.”

The corporate scorecard released last month includes the revamped indicators for the institution, as well as a new scorecard for the World Bank Group. It represents the first time the group has combined indicators from across the institution, which includes its private sector lending and insurance arms — the International Finance Corp. and the Multilateral Investment Guarantee Agency — which are also currently updating their own corporate indicators.

Both sets of indicators are divided into three broad categories measuring the development context (for example, global rates of poverty), measurable results achieved in client countries (like the number of people with access to an improved water source), and performance of bank operations (outcome ratings, satisfaction ratings from clients).

How it works

The new scorecard not only reflects the broad goals that the bank has adopted and top-line development indicators focus on poverty, sustainability, and inclusiveness, but also delves into some of the more specific elements of the World Bank’s strategy to meet those objectives.

For example, the bank is going to try to measure how well it is working as “one World Bank Group,” an aspiration of the new strategy. How the bank will measure that exactly is still being hashed out, but there are placeholders for a “measure of joint engagement” and “staff working across institutional boundaries,” a defined target for staff perceptions of collaboration, and trying to cut the time it takes to get projects up and running. The target for “time for operational delivery” is to cut the current baseline of 28 months from concept to loan disbursement by one-third by 2017.

Notably, the measurements of bank performance are disaggregated for fragile and conflict-affected states.

While the scorecard still includes lending amounts as an important indicator, Sherman said the bank wants the revised metrics to help the institution focus more on outcomes rather than outputs. How much staff are affected by the new indicators will depend on how well they are aligned with departmental performance tools and incentives, she explained, clarifying that the World Bank will be working through fiscal year 2014 to ensure that alignment is fully in place by July 2015.

Some of the thornier discussions about certain indicators are still ongoing, even which broad indicators of development to measure. For example, in  the development indicators, a measure of “climate resilience and climate finance” is still being decided, as is the metric for “quality of learning” for the education section of the inclusive growth indicators. Coming up with a meaningful metric for results on jobs, transport, and ICT is something the bank was still putting a lot of work into, according to the official in charge of developing the tool.

"It's quite a challenge to find the right indicator sometimes, so we're pushing ourselves on that, but we also want to be very careful, because if we want to use this as a tool for management, you want to send the right incentives,” Sherman said.

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About the author

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    Paul Stephens

    Paul Stephens is a former Devex staff writer based in Washington, D.C. 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.