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 Diwaniyah 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 82 governorate staff members with this knowledge and these tools, Tarabot also provided technical assistance to help develop the governorate’s procurement website for the advertisement of 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 governorate to advertise contracts in a fair, open, and consistent manner. Tarabot assisted the governorate in completing its 2012 and 2013 procurement plans to guide its procurement activities, and 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 Diwaniyah to more efficiently implement its capital investment budget by training 32 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 four construction projects: 1) a multistoried parking lot, budgeted at $3.7 million; 2) the Shafa’eya Noora road, budgeted at $500,000; and 3) two international schools, budgeted at $1.2 million and $1.5 million, respectively. Tarabot assisted engineers to develop the project’s work schedule, and estimated costs and timelines to help keep projects on track and within budget. Through practical hands-on application alongside Tarabot advisors, governorate engineers were able to translate their knowledge into practice.
The Governorate of Diwaniyah 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 24 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 Diwaniyah.
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 Diwaniyah 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 four staff members from the Governorate of Diwaniyah 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 Diwaniyah 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 Diwaniyah 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 Diwaniyah 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.