December 19, 2020

Staff on World Bank Doing Business Scheme Allege ‘Pressure’ From Management

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The World Bank Group on Wednesday issued statement announcing completion of review of the Doing Business annual report data collection process.

The highly anticipated World Bank audit report shows that 9 of 15 staff members on the Doing Business team say management pressured them to manipulate data. 8 of them complied.

In releasing the review report, the World Bank issued the following statement on data corrections to the Doing Business report and findings of an internal audit of data integrity in the report’s production process:

“Over the past 17 years, the Doing Business report has been a valuable tool for many countries seeking to benchmark the business regulatory environment. The Doing Business indicators and methodology are designed to help countries to generate reform momentum to improve the overall business climate.

As noted in our statement of August 27, irregularities were reported regarding changes to the data in the Doing Business 2018 and Doing Business 2020 reports, published in October 2017 and 2019. Management immediately called for a systematic review and assessment of data changes that occurred subsequent to the institutional data review process for the last five Doing Business reports. Management also requested the World Bank Group Internal Audit (GIA) perform an assurance review of data integrity in the production process of the Doing Business Report and verify management’s review of data irregularities in the Doing Business Reports from 2016 to 2020.

Following extensive review by management and a discussion with our Board of Executive Directors, today we are publishing:

  • full review of the data irregularities and required corrections affecting the data for the four affected countries;
  • An independent verification of management’s review of the data irregularities by the World Bank Group Internal Audit (GIA);
  • The findings of the World Bank Group Internal Audit (GIA) Assurance Review on Data Integrity in the Production Process of the Doing Business Report, together with management actions that have been and will be taken to strengthen the overall control environment and address the underlying vulnerabilities identified in the report.

While unrelated to the specific data irregularities, the Bank is also launching an external review of the Doing Business methodology with the goal of strengthening the product and its usefulness to stakeholders worldwide, with findings expected in mid-2021. The draft Terms of Reference can be found here.

We will be completing the arrangements for the publication of the Doing Business 2021 report in the coming months, incorporating the data corrections noted above. We will address the findings of these various reviews in this and future Doing Business reports.”

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