USAID-Tarabot worked with the Ministry of Construction and Housing to improve service delivery through administrative reforms. Sustainability was foundational to USAID-Tarabot’s approach in training ministry staff to better plan and execute their capital investment budget, improve service delivery processes, and review regulations with the goal of eliminating those that are ineffective and outdated. Capacity building was followed by hands-on application to deepen skills learned and sets a precedent for success, as demonstrated by the use of new project management techniques on construction projects in Baghdad, and the development of two procurement tenders for construction works in Baghdad and Babil. To illustrate its ownership of these initiatives and ensure the sustainability of Tarabot’s work, the Government of Iraq allocated $272,000 in cost share funding to support Tarabot’s activities with the Ministry of Construction and Housing.
USAID-Tarabot, in partnership with COMSEC, strengthened the capacity of the Ministry of Construction and Housing to more efficiently implement its capital investment budget by training 137 engineers on modern project management techniques using Project Management Institute (PMI) standards. Training was provided to engineers in PMI processes, estimation techniques and MS Project, feasibility studies, and earned value management. With Tarabot’s assistance, engineers went on to apply their new skills on a project for the construction of a laboratory in Baghdad that will conduct quality testing for construction materials, budgeted at $15 million. Tarabot assisted in developing the project’s work breakdown structure, estimating costs and timelines, tracking project progress based on time and budget indicators, and applying MS Project for scheduling. Through hands-on application alongside Tarabot advisors, ministry engineers have begun to translate their knowledge into practice.
Tarabot also assisted the ministry in the reconstruction of the Sayyidet Al Najat church in Baghdad, which suffered a terrorist attack in 2010. Like other faiths in Iraq dislocated by violence, Christians were losing the belief they could safely worship. The ministry pledged to rebuild the church and began its work in 2012; however, the project suffered from a six-month delay in scheduling. Tarabot helped the contractor to identify problems in implementation, and ministry engineers were able to speed up the completion of the renovation by using project management software promoted by Tarabot to develop new timelines and reallocate resources. Now, a parish of over 300 is able to worship again in a fully rehabilitated church. The successful completion of this project set a precedent for the value of MS Project, which resulted in an official order from the minister for the program to be applied across the ministry’s capital investment portfolio.
The Ministry of Construction and Housing has embraced the project management systems promoted by Tarabot through the establishment of a Project Management Office, which will oversee capital investment projects and ensure effective implementation through the use of internationally recognized methodologies.
Tarabot also supported 56 ministry engineers to prepare them for certification as Project Management Professionals (PMP) through a 35-hour training course and simulation exercises. The 35-hour course is a pre-requisite for registering with the PMI to take the PMP exam. Engineers are now equipped with the techniques, skills, and knowledge required for certification, ensuring the anchoring of sound project management practices within the Ministry of Construction and Housing.
USAID-Tarabot worked in partnership with the Government of Iraq to improve capital investment planning through capacity building and institutional reform measures. With the assistance of Tarabot, ministries are better equipped to select and plan investment projects that maximize value and impact in service delivery, and ensure that local projects are coordinated with national priorities as outlined in the National Development Plan 2013–2017.
USAID-Tarabot’s efforts with the Ministry of Construction and Housing focused on the development of criteria for the selection of projects based on cost-benefit analyses of economic, social, financial, spatial, and environmental factors with due consideration for development goals, risk levels, and direct and indirect impacts. To this end, a series of capacity building workshops and on-the-job trainings were held for 26 staff members from the Ministry of Construction and Housing to enable them to apply project selection criteria in project planning. The capacity building process consists of three phases: 1) assessing current planning processes, 2) aligning project selection with National Development Plan goals and developing selection criteria, and 3) applying selection criteria in the development of project plans. With the assistance of Tarabot, trained ministry staff applied their project selection and planning knowledge to develop a list of selected projects using established selection criteria.
To support the management of the ministry’s projects, USAID-Tarabot assisted the Ministry of Construction and Housing to operate the Iraq Development Management System, an online software package for overseeing the ministry’s capital investment cycle. Tarabot provided 21 ministry staff members with training on the system’s initiation and maintenance, including how to update and enter project information into the system, query it for information, and generate reports on projects and their implementation progress.
USAID-Tarabot, in partnership with the Ministry of Planning, is working with the Government of Iraq to execute its investment budget through fair and transparent procurement systems, enabling a favorable environment for international and domestic businesses and better services for the Iraqi people.
USAID-Tarabot worked with the Ministry of Construction and Housing to support the development and adoption of standardized procurement processes, standard bidding documents, and mechanisms for annual procurement planning in line with international standards. While equipping 74 ministry staff with this knowledge and these tools, Tarabot also worked alongside them to help prepare prequalification documents, design the terms of reference, and evaluate the request for proposals for two tenders: 1) the construction of a bridge in Babil province, valued at $17 million; and 2) the building of a construction materials testing lab in Baghdad, valued at $12 million. The joint preparation of these tenders enabled ministry staff to apply standardized procurement practices on actual public works contracts. Tarabot conducted bid opening and evaluation workshops for ministry staff to support the release of this tender; its advertisement is pending the passing of the Iraqi budget. Additionally, Tarabot developed a ministry procurement webpage for the issuing of tenders and helped the ministry to subscribe to dgMarket, an open source international web portal for the announcement of tenders. These tools will enable the ministry to advertise contracts in a fair and consistent manner.
Tarabot assisted the ministry in completing its 2012, 2013, and 2014 procurement plans, which will guide the ministry’s procurement activities; the drafting of a sustainability plan to ensure the anchoring of sound practices; and the adoption of standard bidding documents. Tarabot also supported the creation of systems for managing procurement documents and reporting to strengthen accountability and transparency in the ministry’s procurement activities.
Many countries in transition face the challenge of broadening the enabling environment to reform and stimulate economic growth and create jobs. Outdated and unnecessary laws and regulations impose efficiency costs on economic activity, while promoting corruption and reducing the government’s ability to deliver services. Tarabot worked to review legislation and regulations and made recommendations for their reform or elimination through an inclusive and transparent process built on extensive stakeholder input.
USAID-Tarabot reviewed 23 business-related regulations affecting the Ministry of Construction and Housing under its Iraq Solution for Regulatory and Administrative Reform (ISRAR) initiative. USAID-Tarabot developed a set of reforms for the issuance of construction permits based on international best practices and in consultation with the Ministry of Municipalities and Public Works and Baghdad Ammanat. The reforms include transferring approvals for building permits less than 1000m2 to local government offices, providing an automatic approval to a builder if a decision is not made by a deadline, and assigning a single employee to handle a building application from start to finish. The Ministries of Municipalities and Public Works, and Construction and Housing are reviewing the construction nidham drafted by USAID-Tarabot and are set to provide feedback.
Center of Excellence
The Iraq Center for Excellence in Government (ICEG), formed under COMSEC, is the culmination of years of effort by USAID-Tarabot and its predecessor, Tatweer, to improve the performance of Iraqi government entities. It is a public entity that encourages leadership and innovation in service delivery by providing frameworks and guidelines for organizational management and institutional capacity development through the application of the Excellence model, which consists of seven criteria in the areas of leadership, people, knowledge, strategy, resources, processes, and results. The Excellence model provides a holistic view of an entity and how these elements relate to one another to affect organizational performance and results achieved.
USAID-Tarabot assessed the capacity development of the Ministry of Construction and Housing in the areas of quality management and organizational development to support their adoption of the Excellence model. Ongoing technical support was provided in the documentation and review of organizational processes to implement short term, high impact plans in service delivery along Excellence guidelines. Tarabot recommended two services for process re-engineering: 1) to reduce time in processing complaints made by suppliers, contractors, and citizens; and 2) in receiving responses from responsible authorities. To enable ministry staff to identify opportunities and gaps in organizational development and service delivery, Tarabot trained 43 members on the application of the Excellence model.