Begun in September 2004, the Special Inspector General for Iraq Reconstruction’s (SIGIR) Lessons Learned Initiative (LLI) focused on three areas of the U.S. relief and reconstruction effort in Iraq:
• human capital management
• contracting and procurement
• program and project management
The first LLI report, Iraq Reconstruction: Lessons in Human Capital Management, was released in early 2006. SIGIR published its second report, Iraq Reconstruction: Lessons in Contracting and Procurement, in August 2006. The collected observations of these two Reports amplified the need for targeted reform of U.S. contingency relief and reconstruction planning.
Iraq Reconstruction: Lessons in Program and Project Management is the third and final Report of the LLI.
IRAQ RECONSTRUCTION: LESSONS IN PROGRAM AND PROJECT MANAGEMENT
Recommendations (Slogger's Abridged Version)
1. The Congress should consider a “Goldwater Nichols”-like reform measure to promote better integration among DoD, USAID, and DoS, particularly with respect to post-conflict contingency operations.
In 1986, the Goldwater-Nichols Act initiated a fundamental reorganization of the Department of Defense. As a result of this Act, U.S. forces increased cooperation and integration... The Iraq experience illustrates the need to expand cooperation and integration across U.S. agencies, but most especially among DoD, DoS, and USAID.
2. The Congress should adequately fund the department of State’s office of the Coordinator for Reconstruction and Stabilization.
The Office of the Coordinator for Reconstruction and Stabilization (S/CRS) was created by the President in response to the need for better post-conflict contingency coordination among U.S. departments. S/CRS completed a post-conflict implementation plan in October 2006....The plan commendably seeks to address many of the lessons learned from Iraq that SIGIR and others have identified.
3. The US. government should clarify the authorities of the multiple agencies involved in post-conflict operations to avoid ambiguity over who is in charge.
Although no single U.S. agency demonstrated the capacity to manage the large and complex Iraq program alone, the resultant and unavoidably ad hoc response that sometimes ensued was less than optimal. Developing ad hoc organizations in theater, such as the PMO and IRMO, consumed significant U.S. resources and time. Moreover, these new offices did not have the appropriate staff, procedures, systems, or institutional strength to direct effectively the complex interagency rebuilding effort.
4. Existing agencies should institutionalize the most effective project management systems, procedures, policies, and initiatives developed during the Iraq reconstruction effort.
Because U.S. government agencies did not have appropriate systems in place to properly manage a program of the magnitude and complexity of the IRRF, they often created new systems and procedures. Over time, many of these procedures became effective in practice. USAID, DoS, and DoD, should identify and institutionally incorporate the best practices from the Iraq experience.
5. Program managers should integrate local populations and practices at every level of the planning and execution process.
In planning for future contingency operations, the U.S. government should involve, from the outset, a broad spectrum of individuals with familiarity about the affected nation (from policy makers to contractors to international experts).
6. Funding designated for post-conflict contingency programs should support flexible programs and projects that yield both short and long-term benefits.
Consideration should be given to developing multi-year programs with properly sequenced reconstruction projects. Both short and long-term relief and reconstruction programs can be better planned and implemented through a multi-year financing strategy rather than through unscheduled supplemental appropriations.
7. Develop policies and procedures to manage non-U.S.-appropriated funds.
The United States deployed to Iraq without standardized policies and procedures to manage non-U.S. appropriated funds (e.g., the Development Fund for Iraq). Policies and systems were thus developed reactively and not implemented consistently. As a result, there were questions about the accountability of non-U.S. funds.
8. Develop comprehensive planning for capacity development.
Before approving reconstruction funds, the Congress should require agencies to present a capacity-development strategy that will enable the effective transfer of operational responsibility for reconstruction projects to the host country.
9. Future post-conflict contingency planning should provide for well-resourced and uninterrupted oversight of relief and reconstruction programs to ensure effective monitoring from the outset and permit real-time adjustments.
An effective monitoring and oversight plan needs to be in place within each agency from the outset of contingency operations. This will allow for early and direct feedback to program managers, who can implement course corrections in operating practices and policies.