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BP 17.55 - Inspection Panel

These policies were prepared for use by World Bank staff and are not necessarily a complete treatment of the subject.
BP 17.55
August, 1999

Note: BP 17.55 sets out the Bank's procedures with regard to the Inspection Panel.  The Panel's Operating Procedures are available on the Internet and at the Bank's InfoShop, the Office of the Inspection Panel, and the Bank's field offices.  Questions may be addressed to the Executive Secretary of the Inspection Panel.

1.  On September 22, 1993, by IBRD Resolution 93-10 and IDA Resolution 93-6 (the Resolution)1 the Bank's2 Board of Executive Directors established an independent Inspection Panel.  During 1996 the Board reviewed the Resolution and, on October 17, 1996, it issued "Clarification of Certain Aspects of the Resolution" (the Clarification).  Following a second review, on April 20, 1999, the Board issued "Conclusions of the Board's Second Review of the Inspection Panel" (1999 Clarification).3

2.  Under the Panel's Operating Procedures,4 requests for inspection are sent to the office of the Inspection Panel either directly or through a Bank field office.5 If a request for inspection is delivered to a Bank field office, the head of the office issues a receipt to the requester and forwards the request to the Panel in the next Pouch.

3.  If a communication addressed to the Panel is delivered to any Bank staff member, that staff member promptly forwards it, unopened, to the Executive Secretary of the Panel and informs his/her department director.
4.  When the Panel notifies the President that it has received6 a request for inspection, the Office of the President (EXC) conveys a copy of the request and any accompanying documentation to the Regional vice president (RVP) concerned.  Taking into account the fact that under the Resolution management has 21 days7 to respond to the Panel,8 EXC specifies the date the response is due to EXC.

5.  Management does not communicate with the Board on matters associated with the request for inspection, except as provided for in the Resolution.9 Management is to decline media contacts on the subject while an investigation is pending or under way.  If in management's judgment it is necessary to respond to the media, comments are limited to the process and make clear that the Panel's role is to investigate the Bank and not the borrower.10 At the Regional level, the RVP generally designates a staff member to coordinate responses to outside parties seeking information about the request.

 6.  Consulting as necessary with staff of the Networks, technical experts, and the Legal Department (LEG), Regional staff draft the management response required under the Resolution.11 In this response, management provides evidence that
(a)  it has complied with the relevant Bank operational policies and procedures;

(b)  there are serious failures attributable to the Bank's own actions or omissions in complying with the relevant policies and procedures;

(c)  there are serious failures attributable exclusively to the borrower or to other factors external to the Bank; or

(d)  there are serious failures attributable both to the Bank's noncompliance with the relevant operational policies and procedures and to the borrower or other external factors.
When the management response admits serious failures that are attributable exclusively or partly to the Bank, it provides evidence that the Bank has complied or intends to comply with the relevant operational policies and procedures.  Such evidence includes only actions that the Bank has implemented or can implement by itself.12
7.  LEG (through the Deputy General Counsel, Operations) and the Environmentally and Socially Sustainable Development Network (ESSD) clear the management response.  The RVP forwards the response to EXC, which provides it to the Panel.

8.  The Resolution provides that, within 21 days of receiving the management response, the Panel determines whether the request is eligible13 and makes a recommendation to the executive directors (EDs) as to whether the matter should be investigated.14

9.  The Panel's recommendation is circulated for Board approval.15 The affected party16 that initiated the request is informed of the decision of the Executive Directors within two weeks of the date of the decision.17 Accordingly, the Panel's Operating Procedures provide for the Panel to inform the requester of the Board's decision and to send the requester a copy of the Panel's recommendation.18

10.  Within three days after the EDs decide whether the matter should be investigated, the Corporate Secretariat (SEC) provides a copy of the request to the Bank's InfoShop.19 SEC also provides to the InfoShopto the extent possible, in the language of the requester20 the following documents: (a) the Panel's recommendation on whether to proceed with the investigation, (b) management's response to the request for inspection, and (c) the ED's decision on investigating the matter.

11.  If an investigation is authorized and carried out, the Resolution provides for the Panel to submit its report to the EDs and the President.21 Bank management then has six weeks to prepare a report indicating its recommendations in response to the Panel's findings.22 EXC provides a copy of the Panel's report to the RVP and specifies the date by which the management report is due to EXC.  The RVP is responsible for this response, which is cleared with LEG (through the Deputy General Counsel, Operations) and ESSD and forwarded to EXC for submission to the EDs.  Any information provided to the ED's in addition to the two management responses is prepared, cleared, and forwarded in the same way.

12.  The Resolution provides that the Board considers the Panel's investigation report and management's response.23 The Resolution also provides that, if the request was made by an affected party, within two weeks after the Board considers the matter, the Bank informs the affected party of the results of the investigation and of any actions agreed to by the Board.24 Within the same two weeks, SEC provides to the InfoShopto the extent possible, in the language of the requesterthe Panel's investigation report, management's response to this report, and the Board's decision on the matter.

13.  When a request pertains to a proposed project, the Project Appraisal Document discusses the findings of the Panel and the actions completed during project preparation in response to those findings.
14.  The Resolution provides that "in the discharge of their functions, the members of the Panel shall have access to all staff who may contribute information and to all pertinent Bank records and shall consult as needed with the Director General, Operations Evaluation Department and the Internal Auditor."25 When requested by the Panel, Bank staff cooperate fully with the Panel in the discharge of its functions.  Bank staff inform their department directors of all such requests.  The Resolution further provides that "the Panel shall seek the advice of the Bank's Legal Department on matters related to the Bank's rights and obligations with respect to the request under consideration."26 Such advice is provided by the Vice President and General Counsel.

 Additional Dissemination of Information

15.  The InfoShop makes publicly available notices and documents, including notices of the registration of requests, sent to it by the Panel.  Management makes available to the public opinions of the General Counsel related to Inspection Panel matters promptly after the EDs have dealt with the issues involved, unless the Board decides otherwise in a specific case.27 Pursuant to the Panel's Operating Procedures, the Panel records in its register all actions taken in connection with the processing of the request, the dates of these actions, and the dates on which any document or notification relevant to the investigation is received in or sent from its office.28 The register is available to the public at the office of the Inspection Panel.

16.  Management works with the Panel and field offices to make the Inspection Panel better known in borrowing countries; however, the Bank does not provide technical assistance or funding to potential requesters.29


  1. The text of the Resolution is reproduced as Annex A.
  2. "Bank" includes both IBRD and IDA.
  3. The text of the Clarification is reproduced as Annex B, and the text of the 1999 Clarification as Annex C.  In case of conflict, the 1999 Clarification prevails over the 1996 Clarification.
  4. Adopted by the Panel on August 19, 1994.
  5. Operating Procedures, para. 14.
  6. Para. 16 of the Operating Procedures provides that "when the Panel receives a Request the Chairperson, on the basis of the information contained in the request, shall either promptly register the Request, or ask for additional information, or find the Request outside the Panel's mandate."
  7. The Inspection Panel's Operating Procedures (para. 58) define "days" as "days on which the Bank is open for business in Washington D.C."
  8. Resolution, para. 18.  The 1999 Clarification (para. 8) provides that this time limit is "strictly observed except for reasons of force majeure, i.e., reasons that are clearly beyond Management's ... control ... as may be approved by the Board on a no objection basis."
  9. 1999 Clarification, para. 2.
  10. 1999 Clarification, para. 12.
  11. Resolution, para. 18.
  12. 1999 Clarification, paras. 3-4.
  13. Eligibility is defined in paras 12-14 of the Resolution.
  14. Resolution, para. 19.
  15. If the Panel recommends an investigation, Board consideration would be limited to the technical eligibility criteria set out in para. 9 of the 1999 Clarification.
  16. "Affected party" is defined in  para. 12 of the Resolution.
  17. Resolution, para. 19.
  18. Operating Procedures, para, 40.
  19. 1999 Clarification, para. 18: "The Board emphasizes the importance of prompt disclosure of information to claimants and the public."
  20. 1999 Clarification, para. 18.
  21. Resolution, para 22.
  22. Resolution, para. 23.
  23. Resolution para. 23.  1999 Clarification, para. 15: "A distinction has to be made between Management's report to the  Board (Resolution para. 23), which addresses Bank failure and possible Bank remedial efforts and 'action plans', agreed between the borrower and the Bank, in consultation with the requesters, that seek to improve project implementation.  The latter 'action plans' are outside the purview of the Resolution, its 1996 clarification and these clarifications.  In the event of agreement by the Bank and borrower on an action plan for the project, Management will communicate to the Panel the nature and outcomes of consultations with affected parties on the action plan.  Such an action plan, if warranted will normally be considered by the Board in conjunction with the Management's report, submitted under Resolution para. 23."
  24. Resolution, para. 23.  Staff should note that in practice this information is provided to the affected party by the Panel.
  25. Resolution, para. 21.
  26. Resolution, para. 15; 1999 Clarification, para 6.
  27. 1996 Clarification, para. 8.
  28. Operating Procedures, para. 64.
  29. 1996 Clarification, para. 9.  1999 Clarification, para 17: "The Board underlines the need for Management to make significant efforts to make the Inspection Panel better known in borrowing countries, as specified in the 1996 Clarifications."

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