USAID-Tarabot worked with the Ministry of Labor and Social Affairs to implement administrative reforms through capacity building, process reengineering, and systems reform to enhance the ministry’s capabilities in service delivery. Through the overhaul of the ministry’s welfare social safety net system and the automation of the distribution of benefits to the poor and marginalized segments of Iraqi society, Tarabot enabled the government to more effectively address economic insecurity and poverty. To illustrate ownership of these initiatives and to ensure the sustainability of Tarabot’s work, the Government of Iraq allocated $464,050 in cost share funding to support Tarabot’s activities with the Ministry of Labor and Social Affairs.
Social Safety Net
A 2007 socioeconomic survey carried out by the Ministry of Planning revealed that nearly one-fourth of Iraqis lived under the poverty line, prompting the Government of Iraq to overhaul its cash distribution system to ensure access to sufficient financial aid and benefits for the unemployed, disabled, and others in need. The Social Safety Net was designed to correct the deficiencies of its predecessor, which depended on isolated databases in 15 provinces, which was vulnerable to abuse and corruption. Tarabot assisted the Ministry of Labor and Social Affairs to establish a new system consisting of 15 data centers, one in each province, with customized software for the automated distribution of benefits. The 15 data centers were combined into a unified database at the ministry’s headquarters, enabling monitoring and the detection of errors as well as fraudulent and duplicate claims, thereby saving the ministry $28 million dollars, which was channeled back into the system to support additional beneficiaries. The system currently supports over 470,000 families and 1.7 million individuals through an efficient, fair, and transparent system of welfare distribution.
USAID-Tarabot, in partnership with COMSEC, works with engineers from governor’s offices and ministries to promote and facilitate the institutionalization of critical project management techniques. The reform of project management processes and systems will enable improved implementation of capital investment projects in Iraq.
USAID-Tarabot strengthened the capacity of the Ministry of Labor and Social Affairs by training 19 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. The ministry selected three projects for the piloting of these techniques: 1) a social welfare building in Baghdad, 2) an orphanage and elderly care center in Najaf, and 3) a vocational training center in Babil.
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 local projects are coordinated with national priorities as outlined in the National Development Plan 2013–2017.
USAID-Tarabot’s efforts 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 22 staff members from the Ministry of Labor and Social Affairs to enable them to use 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, the Ministry of Labor and Social Affairs produced a midterm investment plan, which will guide its capital investment strategy.
To support the management of the ministry’s projects, USAID-Tarabot assisted the Ministry of Labor and Social Affairs to operate the Iraq Development Management System, an online software package for overseeing and managing the ministry’s capital investment cycle. Tarabot provided 10 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 assisted the Ministry of Labor and Social Affairs to reform its public procurement practices to be in compliance with Ministry of Planning requirements and adhere to international best practices. This assistance consisted of training 41 ministry staff in standard procurement processes and the drafting of its 2012, 2013, and 2014 procurement plans to guide the ministry’s annual procurement activities.
USAID-Tarabot assisted executive offices of the Government of Iraq and key service ministries to address public policy issues in a systematic way, and to introduce new tools and procedures for policy coordination in support of public administrative reform and better service delivery. Through the introduction of evidence-based policymaking practices, Tarabot worked to strengthen decision making processes and to promote coordinated and mutually reinforcing policies across government entities.
In partnership with the Ministry of Labor and Social Affairs, USAID-Tarabot helped to strengthen the institutional capacity of the ministry for public policy making by training 10 policy advisors. The ministry and USAID-Tarabot developed the strategic plan and standards operating procedures for the ministry’s public policy unit. The ministry’s advisors identified two issues to be addressed by policy papers including handicap access in public and private work places and homeless orphans. The policy paper on homeless orphans was finalized and submitted to the minister for approval and implementation. USAID-Tarabot is mentoring the policy unit in the production of the policy’s implementation plans.
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.
The Ministry of Labor and Social Affairs reviewed eight business-related regulations that affect its ability to deliver services with the assistance of USAID-Tarabot’s Iraq Solution for Regulatory and Administrative Reform (ISRAR) initiative. Legislations reviewed include the “Industrial Services Law No. 30 of 2000” and the “Operating Instructions for Iraqis, Arabs, and Foreign Companies Law No. 5 for the year 1985.” In partnership with the Ministry of Labor and Social Affairs, Tarabot identified outdated laws and regulations, and set forth recommendations for their elimination or reform.
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 Iraq 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 assisted the Ministry of Labor and Social Affairs to assess all capacity development initiatives accomplished with the ministry 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. Two-year institutional development plans were created for the ministry to guide its objectives in establishing the Excellence model. To enable ministry staff to identify opportunities and gaps in organizational development, Tarabot trained 48 members on the application of Excellence criteria.
USAID-Tarabot introduced the One-Stop-Shop service center model, in partnership with COMSEC, to address the long lines and complicated procedures that plague service delivery in order to improve citizen services in Iraq. Tarabot’s service centers are founded on three pillars: 1) appropriate physical infrastructure based on international standards, 2) effective and efficient automated systems through business process re-engineering, and 3) public accountability and citizen-oriented services through customer service awareness and training. Tarabot assisted the Ministry of Labor and Social Affairs in the architectural design of its service center. A site has been selected, and its renovation is pending the approval of the Iraqi budget.