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OP 8.40 - Technical Assistance

These policies were prepared for use by World Bank staff and are not necessarily a complete treatment of the subject.
OP 8.40
October, 1994

This Operational Policy statement was revised in August 2004 to reflect the term "development policy lending" (formerly adjustment lending), in accordance with OP/BP 8.60, issued in August 2004.

Note: OP and BP 8.40 together replace OD 8.40, Technical Assistance, and draw on the Operational Memorandum Disclosure of Factual Technical Documents, 6/20/94. They are complemented by the Handbook on Technical Assistance, available online. Questions should be addressed to

1. The Bank1 finances technical assistance (TA),2 complementing its lending activities, to help borrowers:

(a) properly design, prepare, and implement lending operations;

(b) undertake analytical work necessary to underpin reform or policy development; and

(c) strengthen their human and institutional capacity for policy reform and sustainable development.

Borrower Commitment and Involvement

2. The Bank uses its research and policy work and its country economic and sector work to:

(a) promote a dialogue with governments on creating a reform agenda that could be assisted through appropriately phased TA interventions, and

(b) help borrowers define their TA needs and priorities. The Bank does not lend for or manage TA when a government is not committed to the objectives of the TA.

3. The Bank supports borrowers' active participation in designing and implementing TA programs. Specifically, it encourages borrowers to play a decisive role in determining the nature of the TA, its time frame, the agency responsible for implementation, and measurable outputs and milestones by which to gauge progress.

Financing of Technical Assistance

4. TA may be financed with a Bank loan when other sources are unavailable, not suitable, or costly, and only when the borrower is fully supportive of loan financing, taking other alternatives into account.3 If a cofinancier's funds are associated with the Bank's TA loan (or component), the cofinancier's/donor's policies and objectives must be compatible with the Bank's Country Assistance Strategy.4 Project Preparation Facility advances5 may be used for funding TA.

5. The Bank uses its administrative budget to fund TA, giving both quantified support for specific activities through the Special Grants Program--for example, Mediterranean Environmental TA Program--and embedded support.
6 At a borrower's request, the Bank may also provide ad hoc nonreimbursable TA to familiarize the borrower with such matters as management information systems or procurement.

6. The Bank recognizes that borrowers generally prefer grant financing of TA over loans, and it encourages and assists them to seek such financing. Kinds of grants available for TA include:

(a) Bank-administered trust funds from bilateral and multilateral agencies;

(b) the Bank's Institutional Development Fund; and

(c) special programs administered by the Bank (e.g., the Global Environment Facility).7

Cost Recovery

7. When the Bank provides services to member countries (both TA donors and recipients) that go beyond its normal work or practice, it usually recovers both the direct cost and the institutional overhead cost of these services (as established by the Planning and Budgeting Department). However, the Bank provides, on a nonreimbursable basis, up to one staff year of TA per fiscal year for:

(a) any capital-surplus country, and

(b) any graduating country during the graduation period and for a reasonable period thereafter.8 Overhead costs are not recovered when Bank staff are seconded to other international organizations, or when such costs are relatively small and costly to recover. Loan proceeds and cofinancing administered by the Bank are not used to finance seconded (regular or fixed-term) Bank staff.

TA Delivery

8. TA may be delivered through long- or short-term advisers, twinning relationships, or training.9 Whatever the delivery mode, TA projects (or components) include studies only if:

(a) the studies relate closely to the project or activities that follow,

(b) the borrower assigns high priority to them, and

(c) both the borrower and the Bank can provide feedback to consultants during preparation and evaluate the completed studies. The Bank expects the borrower to commit to implementing the recommendations of studies carried out with Bank financing or assistance.

Consultation with Donors
9. The Bank promotes coordination among aid sources by routinely consulting with the United Nations Development Programme,10 bilateral donors, and regional development banks.

  1. "Bank" includes IBRD and IDA, and "loans" includes IDA credits and IDA grants.
  2. Technical assistance is the transfer, adaptation, mobilization, and utilization of services, skills, knowledge, technology, and engineering to build national capacity on a sustainable basis. The Bank uses the terms "technical assistance" (TA) and "technical cooperation" (TC) interchangeably. The Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) distinguishes between TC and TA: TC relates to freestanding activities that have the primary purpose of increasing the stock of the recipient's human intellectual capital and its institutional capacities; TA relates to labor and expertise provided as part of the implementation of capital projects. The United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) uses the term "technical cooperation" to cover both TA and TC as defined by OECD.
  3. For details, see "Financing and Administration of TA" in the Handbook on Technical Assistance.
  4. See OP/BP 14.20, Cofinancing.
  5. See OP/BP 8.10, Project Preparation Facility.
  6. "Embedded" TA is the TA that results from the Bank staff's normal wide-ranging work--for example, economic and sector work, project cycle, preliminary work leading to development policy lending, and project supervision.
  7. For information on these kinds of grants, see respectively OP/BP 14.40, Trust Funds; OP/BP 8.45, Grants; and OP/BP 10.20, Procedures for Investment Operations under the Global Environment Facility.
  8. However, if the program duration exceeds one year, the borrower bears the entire cost of the seconded staff.
  9. For a discussion of TA delivery modes, see GP 8.40, available online.
  10. See OMS 4.30, The World Bank and the United Nations Development Programme.


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