Cablegate: Prt/Usace Workshop Gets Provincial Council and Governate

DE RUEHBC #0094/01 2860959
R 130959Z OCT 07




E.O. 12958: N/A

BASRAH 00000094 001.2 OF 002

1. (U) Summary: In an August 31 - September 5 conference at the
Dubai School of Government, the Basrah PRT and U.S. Army Corps
of Engineers introduced best practices by successful UAE and
Jordanian municipal services providers to Basrah municipal
service directorate (sewage, water and electricity) managers,
provincial council members (PC) and Basrah University
professors. Participants noted that they had never been able to
debate municipal management together. Participants worked with
various project management models, including that taught by U.S.
Military Academy professors, capping a summer-long USMA training
visit to Basrah. A field trip to Abu Dhabi municipal service
plants showed best practices in action. Lively debates showed
that many basic governance issues concerned with budgeting and
project control still need to be sorted out between central and
provincial governments and between the provincial governate and
the PC. Nevertheless the workshop took participants down the
crucial road from passively accepting coalition-funded
infrastructure projects to budgeting and maintaining these
projects for the long term. End Summary.
2. (U) From August 31 through September 5, the Basrah Provincial
Reconstruction Team, the U.S. Military Academy (USMA) and the
U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE), Gulf Region Division South
(GRS), conducted an infrastructure workshop as part of the PRT's
Basrah Public Works Initiative (BPWI). The event was held at
the Dubai School of Government (DSG, affiliated with the JFK
School of Government), with experts also discussing best
practices from the U.S., Jordan and other members of the United
Arab Emirates. The UK Department for International Development
(DFID) funded the workshop. Attendees included professors in
Engineering and Management from the University of Basrah,
members of the Basrah Provincial Council (PC) and directors or
deputy directors from the various provincial municipal service
(state-owned) companies: water, sewage and electricity. The
workshop in management followed a series of workshops and
assessments previously done by ACE and the Basrah PRT, and tying
in with their infrastructure reconstruction projects.
3. (U) The BPWI is a multi-faceted approach to developing
sustainable capacity for municipal infrastructure services
beyond construction or renovation of water, sewage and
electricity projects. BPWI uses an assessment/gap analysis
model and a key is capacity building for Basra University as
well as the infrastructure sectors. GRS and the Basrah PRT
developed BPWI using a GRS capacity development model. USAID
assisted with implementation. GRS connections with USMA led to
Academy engineering and project management experts, who as
professors were able to go TDY to Basrah for the entire summer,
to enhance BPWI for several months. For this conference the
USMA professors recapped more detailed training from past
training conferences, explaining the USMA strategic planning
process. PRT members trained participants in a number of
management models, including that of the European Foundation for
Quality Management.
4. (SBU) Small group reactions to the PRT's model for
infrastructure planning and decision-making revealed a lively
debate. The Basrawis from academia, the PC and service
directorates commented that the workshop was valuable as, in
Basrah, they were unable to be seen in the same room together,
let alone have a vocal debate on how to budget and operate
public utilities -- due to threat of violence by militias. The
section on Governance produced a robust discussion on the roles
and responsibilities of the Governor's Office, the PC and the
Technical directorates especially in relation to prioritization
of projects and spending decisions.
5. (U) Workshop debate also indicated that disagreements exist
between PC and governate representatives over who should have
control or veto power over projects, management and budgeting.
Further disagreement erupted over modeling that showed how the
central government would have a role in budgeting for provincial
municipal services. It was noted by some Basrawis that Dubai's
success in managing municipal services had something to do with
its non-democratic governance.
6. (U) Some of Dubai's success was shown to come from some basic
management practices lacking, but with potential in Basrah.
Billing residents for services promotes conservation. Producing
job descriptions and employee incentives (lacking in Basrah's
provincial government offices) motivates a quality workforce.
Basrah suffers the high unemployment and lack of middle-aged
technical people that occurs elsewhere in the country. It was
noted that young university graduates in engineering are
frequently lacking in English skills, important for receiving
international training and working with English-language
management systems.
6. (U) The USMA academic connection with Dubai School of
Government was useful for bringing in academics in engineering
and related fields at the University of Basrah. The fusion of
academic thinking from the U.S. and Dubai on good governance,
engineering and project management proved beneficial. Best
practices workshops on the Dubai, United Arab Emirates and
Jordan experiences were also beneficial. The DSG administrators

BASRAH 00000094 002.2 OF 002

were committed to determining how they could support Basra
University, and agreed to provide scholarships for Basra
University faculty to spend a semester teaching and studying at
DSG; assistance in developing curricula for Executive Education
programs; and information sharing.
7. (U) A field trip provided a hands-on look at successful
municipal services. Participants were divided into two groups
so that technical participants could get technical training
while "political" participants were exposed to a strategic view
of a public utility operation in Abu Dhabi. The technical
participants did exercises in project management, learned how to
use Microsoft Project software using a complex building
construction problem, and learned about alternative power
generation. The political group visited Abu Dhabi Sewerage
Services Company (ADSSC) and Marfraq Waste Water Treatment
Works; they learned about increasing efficiency, including HR
issues surrounding redundancy of 500 staff; developing
relationships with contractors and proposed privatization.
8. (U) Several coordinating committees grew out of this
workshop. Participants agreed to the Governor's office
suggestion for a coordinating group comprising governor's
office, technical directorates, the PC, and where appropriate,
other specialists (from industry, donors or academia) to improve
communication in planning and prioritizing projects.
Participants also agreed to establish two other committees:
Establishing excellence in Basrah - this group will determine
how to introduce the concepts of public sector management
excellence and will include Basrah University; and Finalizing
the Provincial Management Cycle - a group to incorporate the
management models introduced in this workshop. GRS' connection
with the Basrah University was a key to bring them on board; now
GRS and the PRT are trying to get Basrah University BU to take
the lead in training the municipal directorate staff with
assistance from the DSG.
9. (SBU) Comment: This workshop helped to remedy a frequent
criticism of public works projects in Iraq: after a project is
built, there is frequently little attention to maintaining the
facilities or services to the public. Sending more
university-educated Basrawis to English training courses would
be a benefit for the work force. There are clearly basic
governance issues still to be worked between the legislative and
executive branches of municipal government, but this workshop
got the main players on the right road. Clearly some of the
barriers between the Governor's Office and the PC (which months
ago held a vote to dismiss the Governor) were broken down,
further aided by a participant soccer game at the end. The PRT
will be working with all of the actors to institutionalize
management concepts learned at the workshop. End Comment.
10. (U) For workshop materials, attendee list or further
information, contact Andrew Doust ( of the
Basrah PRT (based in Dubai), FSO Clifford Sorensen
( of the Basrah PRT or LTC Kenneth
McDonald ( of the USACE
Base in Basra. This cable was cleared with Basra PRT and USACE
GRS Basra office.

© Scoop Media

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