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 Muthanna 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 46 governorate staff members with this knowledge and these tools, Tarabot also worked alongside them to develop two tenders: 1) the design of a Muthanna governorate building and a local council building, valued at $5 million; and 2) the construction of these two buildings, a works contract valued at $115 million. These tenders have been announced through dgMarket and the governorate’s procurement website. Twelve expressions of interest were received for the consultancy contract for the design of these buildings, and the governorate is submitting invitations for qualified companies. The joint preparation of these tenders enabled governorate staff to apply standardized procurement practices, including the use of standard bidding documents, 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.

Tarabot also supported the governorate in creating systems for managing procurement documents and reporting; thereby enhancing transparency in the governorate’s contracting practices and processes. Tarabot assisted the governorate in completing its 2012, 2013, and 2014 procurement plans, which will its procurement activities; and the drafting of a sustainability plan to ensure the anchoring of sound procurement practices.

Project Management

USAID-Tarabot, in partnership with COMSEC, strengthened the capacity of the Governorate of Muthanna to more efficiently implement its capital investment budget by training 12 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 women’s center, budgeted at $2 million, which will provide social services to widowed, divorced, and abused women. The governorate has begun construction of this multi-story building which will have capacity for 200 employees. This project was planned for completion within in one year. However, the lack of schedule management has caused delays. To address this issue 17 engineers trained by Tarabot on PMI techniques, worked on developing the master schedule based on a logical sequence project activities and work packages. This provides for a more robust tracking system to ensure that deliverables are met. Through hands-on application alongside Tarabot advisors, governorate engineers have begun to translate their knowledge into practice.

The Governorate of Muthanna has embraced the project management systems promoted by Tarabot through the establishment of a Project Management Office, which will oversees capital investment projects and ensure effective implementation through the use of internationally recognized methodologies.

Tarabot also supported 11 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.

Project Planning

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 Muthanna 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 Muthanna 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 Muthanna 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 Muthanna 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 Muthanna 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.