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 Najaf 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 89 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.
Seven tenders were developed with the support of Tarabot: 1) the construction of the Al Zahar’ra Bridge, valued at $50 million; 2) five consultancy contracts for the design of sewage pipe networks in five districts of Najaf, each valued at $1.5 million, and serving 150,000 people per district; and 3) a consultancy contract to train 20 people from the governorate’s Reconstruction Commission about the environmental impact of project implementation, valued at $300,000. The joint preparation of these tenders enabled governorate staff to apply standardized procurement practices on actual public works contracts. All tenders were announced on dgMarket and the governorate’s procurement website. The awarding of these tenders is pending the approval of the Iraqi 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 governorate to advertise contracts in a fair, open, and consistent manner.
Tarabot also introduced systems for managing procurement documents and reporting to strengthen accountability and transparency in the governorate’s procurement activities, and supported the governorate in developing procurement plans for 2012, 2013, and 2014 to guide their procurement activities.
USAID-Tarabot, in partnership with COMSEC, strengthened the capacity of the Governorate of Najaf to more efficiently implement its capital investment budget by training 59 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 four projects: 1) the Al Askaryeen Tunnel, budgeted at $11.3 million; 2) the Missan School, budgeted at $1 million; 3) the Abu Talib School, budgeted at $1 million; and 4) the Muslim Bin Aqeel Tunnel, budgeted at $19.2 million. Tarabot assisted project engineers to use MS Project to develop project schedules and track progress. Through hands-on application alongside Tarabot advisors, governorate engineers were able to translate their new knowledge into practice.
Earlier in 2013, following technical assistance from USAID-Tarabot, the Najaf Governorate Office issued an administrative order to adopt MS Project as a tool for the scheduling and managing of all construction activities and work progress in the province. The Al Askaryeen Tunnel was chosen for the application of this project management tool. With the use of PMI techniques, particularly MS Project, the tunnel was completed on time in November 2013. This major roads project, which links the provinces of Najaf, Karbala, and Diwaniyah, helps to streamline traffic in the northern and southern districts of Najaf. With an economy driven by over one million tourists a year, Najaf is fully committed to the rapid modernization of its urban infrastructure using the project management systems promoted by Tarabot.
The Governorate of Najaf 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 18 governorate 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 in the governorate.
To support the management of the governorate’s projects, USAID-Tarabot assisted the Governorate of Najaf 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 10 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.