Bank projects and activities are governed by Operational Policies, which are designed to ensure that the projects are economically, financially, socially and environmentally sound. The Bank's Operational Manual spells them out, and provides guidance on how to comply with them ("Bank Procedures" and "Good Practices"). Among the key types of policies catalogued in the manual are:
- Policies on business products and instruments, which establish rules for lending instruments, country economic and sector work, technical assistance, grants, guarantees and other Bank products.
- Safeguard policies, which include Environmental Assessments and policies designed to prevent unintended adverse effects on third parties and the environment. Specific safeguard policies address natural habitats, pest management, cultural property, involuntary resettlement, indigenous peoples, safety of dams, projects on international waterways and projects in disputed areas.
- Fiduciary policies, including rules governing financial management, procurement, and disbursement. There are also detailed guidelines for the selection of consultantsand the procurement of goods and worksin projects financed by the World Bank.
- Management policies covering such areas as project Monitoring and evaluation
The Bank has a Policy on Access to Information that sets out the institution's policy on public access to information in the Bank's possession. The AI Policy, which took effect on July 1, 2010, supersedes the World Bank Policy on Disclosure of Information. As the Bank has long recognized, a sound, open access to information policy is fundamental to fulfilling its many roles. At the same time, the Bank has an obligation to protect the confidentiality of certain information
The Inspection Panel helps ensure compliance with Bank policies. An independent body to which individuals and communities can turn if they believe that their rights or interests have been or could be directly harmed by a Bank-financed project. The panel includes senior compliance experts who report directly to the Board of Executive Directors.