Although the speculation has already started about possible candidates to replace Robert Zoellick, and he and his surrogates are already trying to reframe his 4 1/2 years at the Bank, it’s important to remember what the process is.
PIMCO’s Mohamed el-Irian, hardly a disinterested observer, rightly points out in a February 17 Washington Post op-ed that whoever is chosen will have more legitimacy if the Board undertakes appropriate due diligence and a transparent, maybe even public process. Continue reading
As speculation grows about the timing of Bob Zoellick’s departure announcement, it’s time to reflect on the process, and on the qualifications for his successor, independently of speculation on good or bad potential candidates.
In June 2007 the Executive Directors of the World Bank should have set in place their own oversight mechanisms, and procedures for evaluating Zoellick’s performance, and that of his management team. They didn’t do that.
A way to start would have been to get the a baseline measure of his skills as a manager and leader, from what he had done before in his long years in the US government, and his brief stints at Goldman Sachs and Fannie Mae. They didn’t do that.
They might also have agreed on a private annual feedback process from Board members, based on input from staff, senior colleagues, and clients on their interactions with him. They didn’t do that.
In 2007 very few anticipated the Great Recession, and its impact on both rich and poor countries, but they could have asked Bob Zoellick for his vision of the future of the World Bank Group, and his ideas for leading the organization and its stakeholders–including the Executive Directors–toward that vision. They didn’t do that.
As Robert Zoellick prepares to move on, maybe, to use IDA tagline’s, “now is the time.”
Robert Zoellick is the one and only candidate for World Bank President. Beginning on June 20, the Bank’s Board of Executive Directors must take some important actions to prepare for a successful five years, and build on the Wolfowitz Scandal to move forward and restore credibility in its own role and behavior.
June 18’s Irish Times puts it well
“However, the Bank’s board must not treat Mr Zoellick’s presidency as a done deal. He must convince them that he has a firm understanding of what it seeks to do and of its full potential in alleviating poverty. The Bank hopes to raise $30 billion over the next three years to further its aims. Mr Zoellick must demonstrate that the Bank deserves that funding and will distribute it without fear or favour.”
Well said, but it’s $39 billion for IDA, as well as a stronger role for the Bank in Middle Income Countries, and greater clarity about what IFC’s role is vis-a-vis other financing sources for the private sector.
The Board has to do three things. Continue reading
The Treasury Department has issued a press release documenting nominee Bob Zoellick’s peripatetic visits to Africa, Europe and Latin America on a ‘charm surge’ to meet with Bank stakeholders. After his words about the need for healing, what is conspicuous by its absence is any meeting with Bank staff during his 15 day trip, which is being cofinanced by US taxpayers and his own frequent flyer points.
It perhaps behooves Mr. Zoellick and his handlers to indicate when he will talk to Bank staff and management, who need to get a measure of the man and whether his leadership skills and management style are an upgrade from what the world has put up with for these last two long years. He also needs to confirm whether he has some outsiders coming with him to the Bank, and what exactly they will be helping with.
It is surprising that the global NGOs who have raised concerns about his old jobs (advocating for protected farmers, global trade liberalization, Big Pharma, and Goldman Sachs) have not sought time on his agenda.
Presumably there is lots of time between his return and the Board’s interviews and formal consideration of his nomination (and any others) for him to meet with Bank staff and civil society to answer their questions and show he has “the right stuff” to be World Bank President.
When will the rest of his schedule be announced?
The Bank’s Board has given their criteria for the next World Bank President.
The Board believes it is essential for the next World Bank President to have:
- a proven track record of leadership;
- experience managing large, international organizations, a familiarity with the public sector and a willingness to tackle governance reform
- a firm commitment to development;
- a commitment to and appreciation for multilateral cooperation, and
- political objectivity and independence.
Nominations are open until June 15. While the Board acknowledges that the Executive Director for the United States will be making a nomination, they leave themselve open to other suggestions.
There are many good things to say about Bob Zoellick, and some things he will have to work on. Continue reading
The Staff Association, which has emerged as the Bank’s own “civil society” has circulated Managing Director Graeme Wheeler’s strong and sensitive statement to the Bank Board’s Personnel Committee. Beyond highlighting the huge emotional cost the Wolfowitz Situation imposed on Bank staff, it hints at a few short-term changes that must be made in important personnel and policy processes. These are: the reporting relationship of the Bank’s Institutional Integrity Department, and the selection process for the next Vice President, Human Resources. Both are thought to have been captured by Wolfowitz cronies. Continue reading
As the world has moved on to speculating about Paul Wolfowitz’s successor, a special article in the Economist points to the challenges ahead for the Bank and the development business more generally.
The protracted and very public end, the backroom ‘no-fault divorce’ deal struck between PW’s lawyer and three rogue EDs, and the exchange of amicable, if somewhat hollow, statements are intended to get people back to work and the Bank’s stakeholders focused on “what next?” and the business of fighting poverty.
How quickly that happens, or whether it happens at all, depends on the United States. Continue reading
Now that June 30th has been fixed as Paul Wolfowitz’s last day at the World Bank, it’s time to talk bluntly about his successor.
Fortunately, the White House’s initial ludicrous proposal was rebuffed that PW must stay until an (American) successor is in place. There are perfectly competent people on hand to do the work of the Bank as a thoughtful succession process, driven by the Board and with significant global public input, is followed. The press nonetheless is speculating about successors, but let’s be careful: That’s how Paul Wolfowitz picked his entourage and senior staff.
It’s time to look at the qualifications needed for this important job, at this important time. Continue reading