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One in five IMF staff say they were ‘unduly influenced’

Handrail, Banister, Building REUTERS/Yuri Gripas

Nearly 20 percent of International Monetary Fund staff say their work has been “unduly influenced” by supervisors, according to an internal survey released on Thursday as part of a review of data integrity standards that generally found “robust mechanisms” for institutional governance.

The review was launched last year by the IMF’s Executive Board following allegations in September 2021 that IMF Managing Director Kristalina Georgieva pressured World Bank staff to alter data to favour China in 2017 when she was chief executive of the development lender.

After a weeks-long probe of the matter involving China’s improved ranking in the World Bank’s now-discontinued “Doing Business” report, the IMF board decided to keep Georgieva as IMF managing director, but continued a review of the Fund’s data integrity policies.

The IMF review of institutional safeguards found that the Fund “generally has robust mechanisms in place to ensure a high standard of institutional governance and analytical integrity, along with well-developed mechanisms to help IMF members prepare robust data.”

It said the IMF’s dispute resolution system was comparable to those of other international institutions and provides “multiple formal and informal mechanisms” for employees to express their workplace concerns.

But it acknowledged that there were gaps in the system, such as the internal review process raising the risk that staff will select topics for country reviews that are important for the Fund but less relevant for the county.

“In general, the Fund’s culture tends to not sufficiently incentivize staff to voice dissenting views,” the IMF said in the report.

A working group on data and analysis integrity recommended that more should be done to clarify the role of management and country executive directors in staff-conducted country analyses and to reinforce the independence of staff analysis, the report said.

The transparency and documentation of the IMF’s internal review system also should be improved, with a review from the fund’s Office of Internal Audit, according to the report.