The World Bank’s new Program for Results (PforR) instrument is only the third instrument approved by its Board and the first to directly link disbursements to results. Designed to support programs of service delivery, the program is still in its early stages. This paper provides an overview of the approach and some of the debates on the design of the instrument, including the approaches to safeguards and to “results”, which encompass the strengthening of systems of service delivery as well as the actual delivery of services. It develops a classification of Disbursement-Linked Indicators (DLIs) that can be used to situate the results-based instruments in the context of investment loans (IL) and development policy loans (DPLs) and applies this to the first four PforR operations. Some are shown to approach other results-based formulations (for example COD Aid) while others have a larger overlap with DPLs. The paper notes a number of features of the operations, including the still-modest use of system performance indicators, as opposed to action-based indicators, to link disbursements to systems reform, and the implications for the PforR approach. While it is far too early to judge the success of PforR and its various design features, the paper considers some of the implications, including the meaning of “success” for a results-based operation.
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