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 Governorate of Babil 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 107 governorate staff members with this knowledge and these tools, Tarabot also worked alongside them to apply procurement procedures for more than 60 public works and consultancy contracts including the construction and rehabilitation of more than 27 schools in the province, benefitting more than 15,000 students; the design and implementation of a security camera network for all major cities in Babil as a security measure for residents, a contract valued at $13 million and awarded to an international firm; and the rehabilitation of four neighborhoods in Hilla, which included water and sewage networks, electricity, and roads, valued at $28 million. The joint preparation of these contracts enabled governorate staff to apply standardized procurement practices on actual public works contracts.
Tarabot also supported the governorate in subscribing to dgMarket, an open source international web portal for the announcement of tenders, a tool that enables the advertisement of contracts in a fair, open, and consistent manner. Since the governorate signed onto dgMarket in 2011, it has posted more than 300 tenders, at an estimated value of $210 million, through this venue. This site enabled the widening of the pool of expertise responding to the procurement needs of the governorate.
Tarabot also supported the governorate in developing procurement plans for 2012, 2013, and 2014 to guide their procurement activities, as well as a sustainability plan to ensure the anchoring of sound procurement practices in the province. Tarabot also introduced systems for managing procurement documents and reporting to strengthen accountability and transparency in the governorate’s procurement activities.
USAID-Tarabot, in partnership with COMSEC, strengthened the capacity of the Governorate of Babil to more efficiently implement its capital investment budget by training 37 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, governorate engineers went on to apply their new skills on over 20 projects for the construction of critical infrastructure including primary schools and kindergartens, roads, power plants, and water treatment centers. Through these projects and many others, engineers from the Babil governorate are translating their knowledge into practice on much needed infrastructure.
Tarabot assisted engineers in constructing a multistoried kindergarten in the Al Neel neighborhood, a facility designed for 100 special needs children between 1–4 years old, complete with classrooms and playgrounds. This project was budgeted at $1 million, and was experiencing problems in execution due to issues in scheduling. Tarabot helped the project team to apply scheduling techniques and develop a master schedule with milestones and working days to reduce variations in project timelines, increasing the performance rate of the project by 25 percent.
In the Mahweel district of Babil, residents were in need of more hours of electricity per day. The governorate sought to meet the needs of more than 1,000 households by constructing a new electrical power station, budgeted at $2.5 million. This critical project was suffering from delays in scheduling at the time of Tarabot’s intervention. Working with project engineers, Tarabot used MS Project to track project deliverables and to develop a master schedule. With this support, the power station was completed on time and now supplies the Mahweel district with an additional 33 kilovolts of electricity.
In Babil, governorate engineers originally expected that a new water waste treatment plant, a project budgeted at $12 million, would need 75 days to connect to its existing water treatment network and be operational. During this time, sewage discharge would pass through unfiltered into the Euphrates River. Employing Tarabot’s scheduling and estimation techniques, engineers were able to reduce the costs, time, and resources needed to finish the construction of the treatment plant 30 days ahead of schedule. Now, approximately five million gallons of water passes through the water plant each day, serving a population of over one million people and providing treated water for agricultural use, while keeping the Euphrates River clean of waste.
Tarabot strengthened the governorate’s Project Management Office by introducing new organizational structures and training engineers in Project Management Institute (PMI) techniques. With improved capacity, the office more effectively oversees capital investment projects and ensures implementation through the use of internationally recognized methodologies.
Tarabot also supported 25 governorate engineers to prepare them for certification as Project Management Professionals (PMP) through a 35-hour training course and stimulation 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 Governorate of 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, governorates 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 with the Governorate of Babil 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 three staff members from the Governorate of Babil to enable them to use project selection criteria in project planning. The capacity building program delivered by Tarabot consisted 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.
In cooperation with the Ministry of Provincial Affairs, USAID-Tarabot helped to establish a Provincial Projects Steering Committee in Babil to promote coordination in planning. This committee brought together officials from the line ministries, governorate offices, and other provincial stakeholders to discuss and select projects that would be most beneficial for the provinces.
Project planning in Iraq has historically suffered from poor coordination, resulting in the redundancy of projects and poor matching of national objectives and the needs of citizens. This is partially a result of a dual budget system, in which ministries build infrastructure in the provinces using national capital investment funds while governorate offices implement their own projects through a separate regional development fund. Under this arrangement, ministries and governorate offices implemented projects independently of one another, with little to no coordination.
The Governorate of Babil completed the three stages of the USAID-Tarabot capacity building and on-the-job training program, and submitted a project list developed through the steering committees using USAID-Tarabot’s project selection criteria. This list demonstrated improved coordination among stakeholders, and more closely reflect national and local development goals.
Iraq Development Management System
To support the management of the governorate’s projects, USAID-Tarabot assisted the Governorate of Babil to operate the Iraq Development Management System (IDMS), an online software package for overseeing and managing the governorate’s capital investment cycle. The system serves as a reliable and credible source of information on the distribution of development projects according to sector, location, and implementing institution. The IDMS feeds information for planning into the decision-making process, and illuminates project implementation performance by entity, sector, or individual projects. This information allows government officials to make wiser decisions with its capital investment resources, and to better identify and address any weaknesses in implementation. This critical step in modernizing Iraq’s public administration contributes to improved efficiency in the capital investment cycle, and promotes transparency and accountability in the allocation of development funds.
Tarabot provided five governorate 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.