IDB-9: Knowledge Products

Mar 2013
The Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) has a diverse set of knowledge products: economic and sector work, knowledge products associated with loans, and a variety of non-reimbursable technical cooperation products (TCs) funded by either income from ordinary capital or donor trust funds. With growing emphasis on IDB's capacity to make effective non-financial contributions to its borrowers, there has been substantial focus on how to increase the development impact of TCs. This involves balancing client demand and the institution's own view of country and regional priorities. IDB has struggled to achieve this balance and to put in place supporting systems to manage and monitor TCs effectively. Since 2008 the definition and classification of TCs and guidance on how to manage them has changed almost yearly. The IDB-9 Agreement reflected both a general intention to make this area of IDB's work more effective, and a more specific mandate to look into the possibility of providing fee-based services in the future. This evaluation identified several areas in which there are continuing issues pertaining to TCs, some of which also relate to IDB's knowledge products more generally. First, the strategic alignment between TCs and lending products needs to be strengthened; it has improved somewhat in annual country programs, but needs to be strengthened in the periodic Country Strategies and overall. Second, the management of TCs is complicated by the various constraints imposed on the inter- and intrasectoral allocation of both ordinary capital and donor trust funds, and IDB Management's efforts to find ways to work around these constraints have met with limited success, as evidenced by the substantial under-utilization of available resources. Third, IDB does not have a system for monitoring and reporting on the results of TCs, and this needs to be rectified, given their importance to development effectiveness. Fourth, proposals for fee-based services have been slow to get off the ground, though some progress now appears likely. Finally, the accessibility of reports and studies is a long-standing problem, though Management has recently begun to address this more systematically with the development of a new system for data access.