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 Basrah 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 155 governorate staff members with this knowledge and these tools, Tarabot also worked alongside them to design the terms of reference, and evaluate the request for proposals for two tenders: 1) the design of a sewage and storm water network in Basrah, servicing 1.2 million people; and 2) the services of a cleaning company for Al-Basrah City, servicing three million people and valued at $30 million. The joint preparation of these tenders enabled governorate staff to apply standardized procurement practices on actual public works contracts. Both contracts are pending the approval of the Iraqi budget. Through the development of these contracts, the governorate has effectively adopted and applied new procurement practices, including the use of standard bidding documents, promoted by Tarabot. Tarabot also helped the governorate to design a $10 million consultancy services contract for project management, planning, finance, and auditing services. The joint preparation of these tenders enabled governorate staff to apply standardized procurement practices on actual consultancy and works contracts.
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. Since the governorate signed onto dgMarket, more than 300 contracts have been put through the venue, widening the pool of expertise responding to the governorate’s procurement needs.
Tarabot also supported the governorate in creating systems for managing procurement documents; thereby enhancing transparency in the governorate’s contracting practices and processes. Tarabot assisted the governorate in completing its 2012, 2013, and 2014 procurement plans to guide procurement activities; and the drafting of a sustainability plan to ensure the anchoring of sound practices.
USAID-Tarabot, in partnership with COMSEC, strengthened the capacity of the Governorate of Basrah to more efficiently implement its capital investment budget by training 38 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 a project for the construction of a primary healthcare center. The Governorate of Basrah has long struggled to meet the health needs of the approximately 40,000 residents of Al Yasseen District. In order to address shortcomings in medical services, the Governorate Office undertook the construction of multi-story health center that will provide medical and dental care to an estimated 8,000 families. The project is budgeted at $1 million and was projected for completion within one year. With Tarabot’s assistance, 25 engineers applied PMI estimation and scheduling techniques to initiate the project charter, develop a stakeholder register, and complete a work breakdown structure. The result will be a more accurate master schedule, better tracking of the execution phase, greater efficiency, and an improved likelihood of on-time and on-cost completion. Through hands-on application alongside Tarabot advisors, ministry engineers have begun to translate their knowledge into practice.
The Governorate of Basrah 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 38 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.
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 Basrah 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 Basrah 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 Basrah 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 Basrah 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 Basrah 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 seven 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.