IMF Accountability

September 11, 2018

Created in 1945, the IMF is governed by and accountable to the 189 countries that make up its near-global membership. The IMF has a system of checks and balances to ensure accountability—ranging from internal and external audits, risk management, and evaluations of its policies and operations. Similarly, IMF staff are expected to observe the highest ethical and workplace standards of conduct.

Checks and balances

The IMF conducts audits of all its operations. The IMF’s audit mechanisms—set up to improve governance, transparency, and accountability—include an external audit firm, an independent External Audit Committee, and an internal audit function. The external audit firm, selected by the IMF’s Executive Board in consultation with the External Audit Committee, is responsible for conducting the IMF’s annual external audit and expressing an opinion on the IMF’s financial statements. The External Audit Committee is independent of the IMF’s management and oversees the annual audit. The Office of Internal Audit and Inspection has two key mandates: it provides advice and assesses the effectiveness of the IMF’s governance, risk management, and internal controls; and acts as consultant to improve the IMF’s business processes.

Assessing risk

While carrying out its surveillance, lending, and capacity development activities, the IMF faces a range of risks, such as IMF-supported lending programs not achieving their intended objectives. The IMF’s internal Risk Management Unit, created in 2014, is responsible for assessing, prioritizing, and managing these risks to ensure implementation of the IMF’s strategic direction—as outlined in the Managing Director’s Global Policy Agenda—and avoid any disruption in the performance of its core functions.

Learning from experience

The Independent Evaluation Office (IEO) was established in 2001 to conduct independent and objective evaluations of IMF policies and activities. The IEO is fully independent from IMF management and staff and operates at arm’s length from the Executive Board. The IEO’s mission is to promote learning within the IMF, strengthen its external credibility, and support institutional governance and oversight. Recent reviews have focused on the IMF’s work on social protection and the IMF’s role in fragile states.

Ethics and staff conduct

To ensure good governance within the organization, the IMF has adopted integrity measures, including a code of conduct for staff—which includes financial certification and disclosure requirements, and sanctions—a similar code of conduct for members of the Executive Board, and an integrity hotline offering protection to “whistleblowers.”

The IMF Ethics Office advises the institution and its staff on ethical behavior, investigates alleged violations of rules and regulations, and oversees the ethics and integrity training program for all staff members. An independent Ombudsperson is also available to provide impartial and independent assistance in resolving employment-related problems in a manner that helps improve the overall working environment of the IMF.

Engagement with the public

In carrying out its work, the IMF meets regularly with political leaders and country authorities. The IMF also routinely engages with a wide range of private sector representatives, the media, and nongovernment stakeholders, including the academic community, civil society organizations, parliamentarians, labor unions, and youth leaders. Opportunities for such two-way dialogue allow the IMF to both explain its approaches and learn from others to improve its policy advice.