who will be next World Bank President What will they do


(Update 2). While Wolfowitz, Folsom and Cleveland hunkered down an eerie calm fell over the Bank on Tuesday. The Board and the Governors were reading the ad hoc committee's report (300 pages, if you believe the New York Times, 600 with transcripts, according to Paul Wolfowitz's newly subdued spokesman, Bob Bennett). Staff went about their work, meetings took place, partnerships were discussed and rumours were traded. People laughed about the only resignation announced on Reuters just as it was being handed over to Kevin's boss.

Even the internal blogs and bulletin boards were a bit quieter. Stories (all verified, it seems) that Director of Institutional Integrity (sic) Suzanne Rich Folsom had stomped her little foot to demand that the bulletin boards be closed down were duly denied by her colleague, Glenn Ware. Few bought that, and the conversation continued in its new venue, in the comment area under External Affairs' insightful article quoting Mark Malloch-Brown (the political consultant who went from the Bank to UNDP to Soros) on "the watershed" the Bank is now facing. He should know, having helped rescue and rebrand the Bank a decade ago, when the Bank was in somewhat safer hands with Jim Wolfensohn.

Some of the unfair entries that were deleted there, it was alleged, were those relating to the crony herself. Surely not!

Actually, Suzanne was getting far less airtime than she deserves: her many fans were probably preparing notes to send to the Volcker Commission, now investigating INT's methods, results and reputation. Now free to write to the investigation's own, outside email account so Mr. Volcker would not have to rely on INT's printers and helpful interpretation and screening, and generously been offered a whole week to request a meeting (NB, cob May 10), staff were taking advantage of the day off to dash off a little something on one page or less.

Maybe about Suzanne's appointment by Paul Wolfowitz "after an international search" that didn't find her.

Maybe about Suzanne's attempts to read email but not constrained by the rules.

Maybe about Suzanne's disciplinary actions against the 'non-performers' in INT, many of whom don't happen to be Americans.

Maybe about how Suzanne's job as Counsellor to the President kept her from doing any credible outreach to "the little people" who might have been interested in her message about anticorruption.

Maybe about why Suzanne has so many PR people, brought with her from the Bank's press operations, her "old job".

Maybe recipe requests for her Republican prayer breakfast specialities.

Or, maybe, something about Congo, where the FT has surfaced allegations that INT's report about corruption and mismanagement of Bank funds was being held up at Paul Wolfowitz's direction. Would that account for Robin Cleveland's quick trip there earlier this year? Or perhaps for Suzanne's failure to bring to closure that avalanche of charges against the many nests of corrupt Bank staff? You never know. Suzanne did have a talk with her colleague (said to have been dating her sister before coming into the Bank at a hugely disproportionate salary) who was a little overwrought and rude to a perfect stranger in the cafeteria a few days ago over how "unamerican" it was for her to wear a blue ribbon. Always good to have a quiet day to give feedback to a subordinate.

Despite Suzanne and Paul's connections to their Bush Administration friends, the White House is establishing some distance from The Current Situation. According to Associated Press, “We still support President Wolfowitz,” Snow said Tuesday. But he added that Bush “is not getting directly, personally involved to my knowledge. ... The conversations right now are not between the administration and the World Bank. I think it's proper to let the process work itself out rather than trying to insinuate ourselves in it.” Karl Rove is said to have phoned PW the other night to urge him to hang tough, while President Bush was entertaining Her Majesty at the White House. Treasury Secretary Paulson, who was invited to the State Dinner, does not seem to be making any calls to his increasingly irate European counterparts.

Quiet today, too, was Robin Cleveland. Her outing to the FT (by Kevin Kellums, most assume) indicates that on April 4 she colluded with Senior VP for External Affairs, Marwan Muasher, to be a bit less than truthful about the former general counsel's involvement in, and the Board's knowledge about, Shaha's deal. What they told the press 'on background' turned not not to be the truth, but, as Stephen Colbert would say, "truthiness". Kevin Kellums had already been shown to have misled the New Yorker and the Post, so truthiness seems to have been widespread among Paul Wolfowitz's inner circle.

Like Paul Wolfowitz, Robin, Marwan and Suzanne still draw paycheques from the Bank, but for how much longer? Terribly unfair, indeed.

Update, Alex Wilks 9 May 2007 14.50 EST

This just in from a correspondent who signs off as "Joe today, Bill tomorrow and Ira the next day. Any name I need to keep out of 'little' Mrs. Folsom's hands". A message submitted to the Volcker Commission and anyone else who will listen.

---------- Forwarded message ----------
From: joe smarty
Date: May 4, 2007 11:57 AM
Subject: Fwd: Letter to World Bank Executive Board about the Department of Institutional Integrity's Independent Review
To: ir-panel@wbeds.dyndns.org

Dear Sirs,

I believe that you all know that the bank is undergoing an independent review of its Department of Institutional Integrity (INT). The main purpose of the review is to evaluate rules and procedures to insure that INT is following "best practices" and is accomplishing its mission. While these are good goals, I think that they fail to take the over arching view that is required to understand the Department of Institutional Integrity.

While the mission of the Department will never make it a welcomed partner with all other units of the Bank, in recent months the relationship between INT and the regions has become almost poisonous. During prior administrations, INT tried hard to establish partnerships with the regions and work in conjunction with them, the assumption being that "all" bank employees wanted what was best for the Institution. Now the regions are portrayed or regarded as our enemies. This change in attitude is not due to any dramatic change in the way the unit performs its day to day functions. The change in the relationship can be directly attributed to INT Senior Management's attitude towards the regions, long time members of the Institution, and anybody that does not completely embrace their agenda. INT and the regions are no longer partners, they are adversaries.

INT Senior Management's attitude can best be described as paranoid. They operate as if the Department were in a state of siege and like to promote the idea that the Department is under attack. Dissent of any kind, either from INT staff or Bank personnel is paramount to "treason" and is treated appropriately. I would encourage you to check a staff roster prior to INT's managerial change. You will find a rate of attrition approaching 40%. While turnover is normal when management changes and the influx of new blood and colour is healthy, such a high rate of attrition is simply not normal. Management will argue that they did not make the staff leave INT; I argue that they made it impossible for them to stay.

INT Senior Management has used the tools of divisiveness and intimidation to insure that staff is too scared to speak out. Many members of INT's staff are G4 visa holders. Their jobs not only mean a source of income but are also a way of staying in the country where they want to live. This is a powerful deterrent from speaking up, particularly if your actions will affect your whole family.

The exceptional latitude that management has to applied to performance and personnel rules has served INT management well. The threat of a personnel action, Performance Improvement Plan, or just not having your contract renewed is enough to keep staff "in line". People are afraid to talk and I would not be exaggerating if I describe the fear of being overheard "criticizing" management as what was felt in the former Eastern Europe prior to Glasnost. All this is aided by a Human Resource representative who is clearly one sided and who has had a reputation for inappropriate behavior and partisanship long before INT started experiencing its staff problems.

The mission statement of the Department of Institutional Integrity is a laudable one. Who can argue with the investigation and prevention of fraud, corruption or misconduct? However, the agency that is to carry out such a mission has the obligation to hold itself to higher, or at the very least the same standards that they hold the people they investigate. INT management has failed to do even that. Actions such as the awarding of sole source contracts, to the hiring of senior staff are done in a less than transparent manner. If you just examine the selection of the Chief Investigative Counselor of the unit, a man who worked for INT but supposedly left the Institution for a year prior to his selection, you will find that he spent more time in INT offices during his period of external employment than was ethically correct. Additionally, the number of contracts steered in the direction of the company that had employed him raises more than one eyebrow in the unit.

The bottom line is, who do you whistle blow to when you work for the department responsible for handling the whistleblowers? Who do you go to when your enforcement department is the one committing the misconduct? Please do not allow this review to become another charade that papers over the real problems in the department and permits the present staff abuses and misconduct to go on. When you have an organization full of lawyers, it is not difficult for them to present issues in such a way that they are just slightly above the line that defines inappropriate or wrong.

I think you will find that including random staff interviews, with the appropriate safeguards, will produce a superior report that will allow you to tailor INT to serve the bank and its staff, not the reverse.

Thank you for your time.

Deep Insider ~ May 09, 2007

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