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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

Note: Based on the approval by the Executive Directors of the recommendations in “Investment Lending Reform: Modernizing and Consolidating Operational Policies and Procedures (R2012-0204 [IDA/R2012-0248]) on October 25, 2012, OP/BP 10.00, Investment Project Financing have been updated and now include provisions formerly contained in this OP.

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Revised April 2013

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. 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.3  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.

5. 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).4 


Cost Recovery

6.  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.5  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

7. TA may be delivered through long- or short-term advisers, twinning relationships, or training.

Consultation with Donors

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

  1. In this OP, unless the context requires otherwise, the term: (a) "Bank" means IBRD and IDA (whether acting in its own capacity or as administrator of trust funds funded by other donors); and (b) "financing" means any loan, credit, or grant made by the Bank from its resources or from trust funds funded by other donors and administered by the Bank, or a combination of these.
  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. “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.
  4. 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.
  5. However, if the program duration exceeds one year, the borrower bears the entire cost of the seconded staff.

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