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Cablegate: Informal Ministerial Capacity Assessment 2007

VZCZCXRO9207
RR RUEHBC RUEHDA RUEHDE RUEHIHL RUEHKUK
DE RUEHGB #0176/01 0231804
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
R 231804Z JAN 08
FM AMEMBASSY BAGHDAD
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC 5328
RHEHAAA/WHITE HOUSE WASHINGTON DC//NSC//
INFO RUCNRAQ/IRAQ COLLECTIVE
RUEHTC/AMEMBASSY THE HAGUE 0043
RUEATRS/DEPT OF TREASURY WASHDC
RUEHVEN/USMISSION USOSCE 0001
RUEHRC/DEPT OF AGRICULTURE WASHDC

UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 03 BAGHDAD 000176

SIPDIS

SENSITIVE
SIPDIS

NEA/I
AID/W/ANE/IRO FOR PRYOR AND STAAL

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: EAID AMGT PGOV ECON PREL SOCI PINR IZ
SUBJECT: INFORMAL MINISTERIAL CAPACITY ASSESSMENT 2007

1. (SBU) Summary: The Ministerial Engagement Team (MET)
leaders in Embassy Baghdad conducted the second of two
informal assessments to determine the level of institutional
capacity of several Iraqi ministries. The Mission used the
same methodology in both years and the results of the
December 2007 review were compared to the August 2006
assessment. There was across-the-board improvement in all
ministries, with an estimated 12% overall average improvement
in the last year. The survey results noted significant
improvements in budget execution, contracting and procurement
metrics; these findings are confirmed by increased national
spending rates. The Government of Iraq (GoI) is poised to
capitalize on this increased capacity development in 2008 if
political will supports continued development in key public
administration processes, training, and political commitment
to service delivery. Significant weaknesses exist in the use
and development of technology, strategic planning, and human
resource and workforce management. USG and donor
representatives continue to encourage the GoI to invest its
national resources in these areas, while USG technical
assistance also continues to address these weaknesses. We
caution that this is an informal assessment and should only
be used to assess trends, not interpreted for mathematical
precision or the effectiveness of U.S. assistance programs.
END SUMMARY.

INSTITUTIONAL CAPACITY OF 12 MINISTRIES WAS REVIEWED IN 2006
AND 2007.

2. (U) Background: Embassy Baghdad conducted a second annual
assessment of several Iraqi ministries in December 2007 to
review their performance and determine whether there has been
progress against a set of indicators. Although the
assessments provide information to confirm and develop
Embassy Baghdad,s capacity building assistance plan for 2008
they do not directly gauge effectiveness of US assistance in
this area. The focus was squarely on the GoI. Twelve
ministries were measured in 2006 and 2007. The ministries
assessed in 2007 were Agriculture, Education, Electricity,
Finance, Health, Justice, Municipalities and Public Works,
Oil, Planning and Development, Water Resources, and Trade.

3. (U) Methodology: In almost all cases ministerial capacity
assessment models assume regular access to the ministries and
that the structure of an assessment system is already in
place. The models also suggest yardsticks to measure the
progress of ministerial capacity building. To carry out
these assessments in a methodologically rigorous manner
usually means assembling a team of assessors who are trained
to assess to a common standard. When the assessment is
repeated, the same or similar team needs to be assembled to
meet the same common standard. For environments like Iraq,
where it is unlikely that the same specialist team will be
assembled for successive assessments, the criteria must be
simple so an ad-hoc team can assess with the minimum of
training time. This also means that some measures will be
left out, despite the desirability of their being assessed.

DEVELOPING THE METRICS USED IN THE ASSESSMENT

4. (U) Ideally, the metrics should act as a benchmark,
allowing comparison with other governments. Organizational
Excellence models (EFQM Model and Malcolm Baldridge) and
Capability Maturity Models should be able to give a benchmark
against international standards; however, it is obvious that
the GoI cannot yet be meaningfully measured to these
standards. However, there are available tools that can be
used to identify a trend. By surveying with the same
questions annually, a general description of how the GoI is
developing could be produced, but cannot be used as a
comparison with other organizations or governments.

5. (U) In developing a tool to measure ministerial
performance in Iraq, the Mission identified the source
objectives and goals for Ministerial Capacity Development,
using the Effective Government and Essential Services Annex
to the Joint Campaign Plan. The US intent -- to help the GoI
create the capacity to govern effectively and to provide
essential services -- leads to the overall objectives of
capacity development and ministerial engagement with the GoI.
The Embassy Performance Plan for 2007 was also used in
developing the assessment tool, as it sets out the goal for
Management and Organizational Excellence and added two

BAGHDAD 00000176 002 OF 003


additional objectives of Communication and Consultation
within Iraq and with the customers of the Ministries, and the
Use of Information Technology (IT) and Web-based Information
Management.

6. (U) We have tried to develop metrics that are as objective
as possible while also being specific, measurable,
achievable, relevant, and time related. The guidance
provided to Ministerial Engagement Leads by the Chair of the
Ministerial Engagement Coordination Committee (MECC), the
Coordinator for Economic Transition in Iraq (CETI), was to
"call it as you see it," without reference to the baseline
2006 assessment. As a result, caution should be used in
comparing this data to the 2006 results.

7. (U) The degree of precision of any of the metrics used in
2006 and 2007 was affected by the security situation and, in
some cases, lack of access and limited opportunity to observe
development within the ministries.

CHALLENGES OF MEASURING INSTITUTIONAL CAPACITY IN IRAQ

8. (U) Assessment Criteria and Measurement Indicators. The
assessments were based upon a four-point measurement, with
ratings ranging from ineffective (one point), partially
effective (two points), largely effective (three points), and
fully effective (four points). The review examined 53
metrics distributed among the following nine areas of
interest:
(1) Can the Ministry sustain its outputs?
(2) Does the Ministry have sufficient long term plans and
processes?
(3) Are there appropriate, transparent financial systems in
the Ministry?
(4) Has the Ministry adopted procedures to counter
corruption?
(5) Has the Ministry developed a professional civil service?
(6) Does the Ministry use technology effectively?
(7) Does the Ministry have an effective information
management system?
(8) Does the Ministry reach out to its customers and Iraqi
society?
(9) Does the Ministry manage its resources effectively?

9. (U) Despite the appearance of precision in this assessment
tool, post advises caution on considering the assessment data
as definitive. The comparisons of data and findings are
offered with this disclaimer: The results confirm the
impressions and understanding of the MET leads and others at
post who deal with their Iraqi colleagues on a daily basis in
the ministries. However, it is based on limited data.
Furthermore, the sensitivity of this undertaking (which did
not include full disclosure to the ministries assessed)
requires that the findings be treated with discretion. The
conduct of this informal assessment by the MET leads might be
interrupted as less than fully independent, as the leads work
closely with the ministries they assessed and the outcome of
the assessments could be viewed as an assessment of their own
performance. An outside, independent assessment would be
neither cost effective nor feasible at this time. The GoI
ministries are undertaking an initial round of
self-assessments, a good step toward effective public
administration.

THE RESULTS

10. (SBU) 2006 Data. The 2006 cumulative data points
indicated that institutional capacity was mixed. Three
percent of the government functions were fully effective, 14
percent largely effective, 28 percent partly effective, 28
percent ineffective, and 27 percent of the functions could
not be evaluated due to lack of access, limited information,
or poor security.

11. (SBU) 2007 Data. The 2007 cumulative data points
indicated institutional capacity distributed across the GoI
as follows:
-- 5 percent of the government functions were fully effective
-- 23 percent largely effective
-- 45 percent partly effective
-- 25 percent ineffective
-- 2 percent of the functions could not be evaluated due to
lack of access, limited information, or low security.

BAGHDAD 00000176 003 OF 003

12. (SBU) Assessment of Trend from 2006 to 2007. There was
an across-the-board improvement in all ministries, with an
estimated 12 percent overall average improvement from 2006 to
2007. Significant improvements reflected in the data in
budget execution, contracting and procurement metrics are
confirmed by increased national spending rates. The GoI is
poised to capitalize on this increased capacity development
in 2008 if its political will supports continued development
in key public administration processes, targeted technical
training, and increased improvements to the civil service.
Weaknesses were identified in the use and development of
technology, strategic planning, and human resource and
workforce management. The USG has existing programs that
will continue to focus on capacity development in these
areas. USG and other donor representatives continue to
encourage the GoI to invest its national resources in these
areas in addition to support provided by foreign assistance.

13. (SBU) Summary of Capacity Development Progress. The
overall progress in the nine areas of interest of ministerial
capacity was mixed among the ministries. Three ministries
(Oil, Electricity, and Water Resources) showed significant
improvement overall. An equal number of ministries were
generally unchanged in the aggregate (Municipalities and
Public Works, Health, and Planning), while the ministries of
Environment, Education, Trade, Agriculture, and Finance
declined slightly overall. Most of these ministries have
progressed from near paralysis to moderately effective.

14. (SBU) Overall, the Ministries of Water and Electricity
exhibited the highest degree of capacity in accomplishing the
mission of their ministry. The effectiveness of the Ministry
of Municipalities and Public Works has not increased despite
considerable efforts by the USG, GoI, and donors.

15. (SBU) The progress of all ministries in managing their
resources showed a modest upward slope. They have slowly
graduated to slightly functioning with the exception of the
Ministry of Oil, which is hampered by its inability to
counter corruption. Ministries that improved in reaching out
to their customers and Iraqi society were Electricity,
Health, and Education.

16. (SBU) Across the board, all the ministries are
ineffective in the use of information management systems due
to the lack of communication infrastructure. Immediate
assistance efforts were targeted using satellite technology,
and ongoing efforts include IT assistance, but this only
meets a small percentage of the needs. The GoI must make
significant investments in communication infrastructure over
many years to develop the necessary tools to improve
government efficiency and to be competitive in the
international markets.

17. (SBU) Progress in long term planning was uneven, with
marginal advancement in the Planning, Education, Trade,
Environment, and Finance ministries. Progress declined in
the Public Works ministry due to leadership issues.

18. (SBU) COMMENT: The findings of the assessment and
comparative analysis with the 2006 survey were shared
throughout the MECC and relevant USG agencies working on
capacity development at post. Just as the findings on
weaknesses in budget execution in 2006 contributed to that
focus in 2007, the findings from this year will help to guide
ongoing assistance to the ministries assessed. The MECC
Chair has directed the ministry leads to gauge their
respective ministries, reactions to the identified areas of
weakness, without going into detail on the assessment and its
results. The MECC provides a forum for such information
sharing and cross-ministerial direction to be provided to
agencies at post engaged with the GoI, and to ensure that
consistent priorities direct our ongoing engagement with the
ministries.
CROCKER

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