Cablegate: 2008 Iagga: Iraq's Anti-Corruption Efforts in 2006-2007

DE RUEHGB #0767/01 0741357
P 141357Z MAR 08




E.O. 12958: N/A
SUBJECT: 2008 IAGGA: IRAQ'S Anti-Corruption Efforts in 2006-2007

REF: A. State 18836, B. 07 Baghdad 3992

1. Summary. While the corrosive effects of public corruption
continue to plague Iraqi society, the Government of Iraq (GOI)
recently has taken a number of positive steps aimed at ameliorating
this problem. Cognizant of the fact that corruption endangers the
stability and security of the state, GOI has strengthened its
anti-corruption agencies and moved toward improving overall
governmental transparency and accountability. Moreover, U.S.
government-funded assistance programs have been a crucial factor in
the progress that GOI has made in combating corruption. Post
continues to liaise with its Iraqi counterparts as part of its
ongoing support for Iraq's anti-corruption efforts and broader civil
society initiatives. End summary.

GOI Anti-Corruption Achievements

2. On May 3, 2007, GOI committed itself to a collection of
anti-corruption measures with its formal adoption of the
International Compact with Iraq. These commitments including:
-- developing merit-based practices for public sector employment,
-- launching an anti-corruption public education campaign,
-- establishing a unit to recover assets that are the proceeds of
corrupt dealings, and
-- developing comprehensive internal and external controls within
the government.

3. On January 3, 2008, GOI convened its first conference dedicated
to fighting public corruption. At this event, Deputy Prime Minister
Barham Saleh noted that Prime Minister Maliki has described
corruption as "a great challenge" that must be the "first and basic
priority for the government." The Deputy Prime Minister then
presented a comprehensive year-long initiative to strengthen Iraq's
resistance to corrupt practices and promote efficient and effective
investigation and prosecution of corruption charges. The GOI
Anti-Corruption Initiative includes the following key benchmarks:
-- improving public access to information on the expenditure of
state funds,
-- enacting clear guidelines for public contracting, amending the
enabling legislation for Iraq's anti-corruption agencies: (the
Iraqi Inspectors General - IGs, the Board of Supreme Audit - BSA,
and the Commission on Integrity - COI) to ensure inter-agency
-- ensuring public access to reports and audits by the
anti-corruption agencies, and
-- drafting a new law on administrative corruption.

Post is monitoring progress on all these benchmarks and working with
its GOI partners to support these initiatives.

4. At the heart of the GOI's anti-corruption efforts lie Iraq's
three primary anti-corruption institutions: the IGs, BSA, and COI.
While the still-challenging security situation impinges on their
ability to function, all three have improved certain aspects of
their operations over the past two years.
-- All GOI ministries now have an Office of the Inspector General.
This accomplishment is worthy of note, as the concept of independent
Inspectors General was only introduced into Iraq's political culture
in 2003.
-- BSA continues to grow its audit capacity and has increased its
presence in the provinces. BSA is also working more closely with
COI and the IGs, and often provides audit training for new IG
-- In 2006, COI rolled out a financial disclosure program, which
requires all mid- and high-level GOI officials to enumerate their
assets. COI is addressing concerns voiced by some ministries and
actively working to make the program more effective and less
burdensome. COI's recently appointed Commissioner has also
broadened the institution's focus; rather than concentrate solely on
enforcement, he has repeatedly stressed his intention to
reinvigorate COI's public education and transparency departments.
-- All three anti-corruption agencies currently are working with the
UNDP to design comprehensive, long-term training programs for their
-- The Council of Representative's Committee on Integrity also
takes an active role in addressing public corruption issues.

--------------------------------------------- ------
U.S. Anti-Corruption Assistance Programs
--------------------------------------------- ------

5. U.S. officials - civilian and military - regularly engage GOI on
the urgent need to attack corruption in the public sphere. The U.S.
supports Iraq's struggle against corruption through assistance
programs that:
-- train auditors, inspectors, and investigators in Iraq's
anti-corruption agencies to recognize and investigate fraud, waste
and abuse;
-- mentor Iraqi criminal investigators on the Major Crimes Task
Force who are assigned to high-profile corruption cases;

BAGHDAD 00000767 002 OF 002

-- mentor prosecutors and judges who manage corruption-related cases
in the judicial system;
-- build technical capacity and procedural safeguards in ministries
and provincial and local governments to defend public resources
against the threat of corruption;
-- support hotlines, which allow Iraqi citizens to report instances
of public corruption without fear of reprisal; and
-- facilitate local partnerships on a neighborhood level to promote
and monitor delivery of essential services.

Additionally, the Embassy's Public Affairs Section and Political
Section, through its DRL-funded programs have conducted an array of
programs geared toward exposing Iraqi journalists, editors, GOI
officials, and journalist syndicates and unions to the styles and
norms of a free press.

6. USAID continues to implement programs whose focus is on capacity
development and civil society. The anti-corruption component of
USAID's Tatweer project concentrates on professional training that
is designed to enhance the skills of Iraq's IGs. On the civil
society front, USAID's Local Governance Program II works closely
with Iraq's provincial governments and the PRTs in order to promote
good government and transparency. The Political Section also
oversees other DRL-funded programs which provide substantial
institutional training to the GOI, political parties, and civil
society organizations, all of which promote good governance by
strengthening the linkage between government and political party
officials and staff with the Iraqi population, with an emphasis on
transparency and accountability.

7. U.S. diplomatic engagement has concentrated on improving
coordination among various Iraqi anti-corruption stakeholders. In
2007, post worked with GOI partners to facilitate the creation of
the Joint Anti-Corruption Committee (JACC). The JACC constituted
the first time GOI's main anti-corruption agencies formally
coordinated their efforts both with each other and with
representatives from the Council of Representatives and the Prime
Minister's Office.

8. In late 2007, following an internal assessment of existing USG
anti-corruption programs and policies, Ambassador Crocker solicited
the Department's support for an Embassy initiative designed to
strengthen USG programs and outreach to combat corruption. (Ref B)
The Ambassador proposed a restructuring of the Embassy's approach to
public integrity and anti-corruption issues, including the creation
of a new senior-level Coordinator for Anti-Corruption Issues. On
March 11, 2008, the State Department announced the appointment of
Ambassador Lawrence Benedict as Embassy Baghdad's Anti-Corruption
Coordinator. He will be responsible for assisting the GOI with its
battle against governmental waste, fraud, and abuse. The
appointment of an Anti-Corruption Coordinator and the revitalized
efforts of the Embassy's interagency Anti-Corruption Working Group
demonstrate the Embassy's commitment to combating public corruption
in Iraq. Ambassador Benedict will arrive at post in late March 2008
and will play an integral role in designing and implementing the
Embassy's anti-corruption strategy.

Challenges Remain

9. Despite the GOI's tangible progress in many areas, much work
remains to be done. Iraq still does not possess the capacity to
recover public assets stolen by corrupt actors. Furthermore, the
anti-corruption agencies lack the funds and trained personnel
necessary to implement their mandates. These are but two of the
myriad areas in need of improvement. Recent events, however, have
demonstrated commitment within the government to pursue the fight
against corruption in the years to come.


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