Karbala-01USAID-Tarabot worked with the Governorate of Karbala to improve service delivery through capacity building and institutional changes. Sustainability was foundational to USAID-Tarabot’s training of governorate staff on procurement systems and tools, and the introduction of project management processes and techniques. Capacity building was followed by practical hands-on application to deepen skills learned, as demonstrated by the use of new project management techniques on a neighborhood rehabilitation project, and the construction of a road and a school in the province. To illustrate ownership of these initiatives and ensure the sustainability of Tarabot’s work, the Government of Iraq allocated $40,000 in cost share funding to support USAID-Tarabot’s activities with the Governorate of Karbala.

Public Procurement

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 Karbala 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 77 governorate staff members with this knowledge and these tools, Tarabot also worked alongside them to support the development of consultancy and works contracts, and evaluated the request for proposals and use of standard bidding documents. Three tenders were developed with the support of Tarabot: 1) the construction of a 27 km road in Karbala, valued at $100 million; 2) the design of a bridge on the Hindyah River, valued at $1.5 million; and 3) the design of an online, e-government system to connect all directorates in the province with the governorate office. The joint preparation of these tenders enabled governorate staff to apply standardized procurement practices on actual public works contracts. The advertisement of these tenders was done through the governorate’s procurement websites and dgMarket. The awarding of contracts is pending the approval of the Iraq budget.

Tarabot supported the governorate in subscribing to dgMarket, an open source international web portal for the announcement of tenders, a tool that enables the ministry to advertise contracts in a fair, open, and consistent manner.

Tarabot also introduced systems for managing procurement documents to strengthen accountability and transparency in the governorate’s procurement activities; supported the governorate in developing procurement plans for 2012, 2013, and 2014 to guide their procurement activities; and drafted a sustainability plan to ensure the anchoring of sound procurement practices in the province.

Project Management

USAID-Tarabot, in partnership with COMSEC, strengthened the capacity of the Governorate of Karbala 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, and feasibility studies.

With Tarabot’s assistance, engineers went on to apply their new skills on three construction projects: 1) the rehabilitation of the Resala District, budgeted at $10 million; 2) the building of the Maraya Al Kobatia primary school, budgeted at $1.5 million; and the construction of the Abo Zarea road, budgeted at $1 million. Through practical hands-on application alongside Tarabot advisors, governorate engineers were able to translate their knowledge into practice.

The Resala rehabilitation project was experiencing delays in scheduling and running over budget at the time of Tarabot’s intervention. Due to the high priority of this project for the province, the governor requested the help of Tarabot in supporting engineers to use MS project techniques and estimation methods to correct these deficiencies, and to create a work breakdown structure and master schedule to keep the project on track. The project will serve more than 1,000 families who live in the district and provide electricity and communications infrastructure, sewage networks, and roads.

The Abo Zarea road project, which will connect two districts in the southern region of Karbala and lessen travel times for residents, was suffering from inaccurate estimations of the required resources and time needed for its construction. Tarabot worked with project engineers, using PMI techniques, to more accurately determine costs, resources, and a master schedule to ensure effective implementation of the project.

The Maraya al Kobatia primary school was an old building in great need for renovations. In the initial planning stage, the project lacked accurate estimations of both costs and time. Tarabot intervened to help project engineers recalculate resources and develop a master schedule with milestones to ensure the project’s timely execution. Renovations will benefit 700 students, providing them with new classrooms and two sporting facilities.     

Iraq Development Management System

To support the management of the governorate’s projects, USAID-Tarabot assisted the Governorate of Karbala 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 four 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.