Back at his desk at the Iraqi Ministry of Oil, a radiant smile spreads across Hassan Bashir’s face as he begins to describe the changes in policy and procedure his ministry has undergone in only a few short weeks.
The changes, Mr. Bashir explains, are due to the skills he and his colleagues acquired at a recent Tatweer workshop on procurement methods and practices.
“Before the workshop, it was generally assumed that the lowest bid was the best,” said Mr. Bashir. “Now we are conducting cost-quality analysis, but what is even more important is that our supervisors are buying into the methods we’ve learned.”
The procurement workshop, held in Baghdad, was hosted by Tatweer, the USAID-funded National Capacity Development (NCD) program in Iraq. Tatweer’s objective is to assist the Government of Iraq in improving the effectiveness of its operations, management and policy-formulation processes.
Four weeks earlier, Mr. Bashir had participated in the Tatweer workshop, which was designed to improve the skills of junior- and senior-level civil servants in managing the governmental procurement process.
The issue of government procurement had long been cited as a major obstacle to completing reconstruction projects.
While security remains top of everyone’s mind throughout Iraq, some organizations are struggling to improve and develop their capacity to provide essential goods and services to the citizens in spite of the security situation.
“If we can show the average citizen that we are able to deliver, this will help solve the issue of security,” said an employee from the Ministry of Water Resources.
Now a month later, Bashir and his colleagues from 10 key ministries are returning for an advanced level workshop on government procurement and to reflect with the instructor and course developer on the impact the earlier course has had on their ministries.
“I could tell that after decades of isolation, these employees were thirsting for information,” said the instructor, a Canadian citizen of Iraqi decent.
Currently just a section of the workshop, feasibility studies, was singled out as a major area of concern since it is a requirement under Iraq’s current government procurement legislation, Coalition Provisional Authority (CPA) 87.
“Even with the security situation being what it is today in Baghdad, the participants are showing up to the session eager to learn. I think this alone demonstrates an enormous level of commitment by these civil servants, as well as bravery,” he said.